Flash News



Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news.

Michelangelo Pistoletto and the Louvre

Michelangelo PISTOLETTO is in Paris this week, and this Friday, 17 May 2013, sees him “in conversation ” with Nicola Setari about his current exhibition at the Louvre, entitled Année un. Le paradis sur terre.”Year One: paradise on earth.”) The exhibition, like the body of work, focuses on the complete and essential reconciliation between nature and culture: the only path that will lead to paradise on earth. Sculptures, installations, talks and performances can be found throughout the Louvre, giving visitors all they need for a clear, detailed picture of half a century’s work. Notably, a repeat of his historic performance Anno Uno – after which the exhibition is named – is being given in the Louvre auditorium. This performance, originally created at the Teatro Quirino in Rome in 1981, is the result of a collaborative experiment Pistoletto carried out with 21 residents of a Ligurian village. The text written by the artist opens with a meditation on the state of society and its possible predictions for the future.

This is an excellent opportunity to discover the living side of a creative area known only to the initiated, and literally absent from the market. In contrast, the public and collectors are familiar with his “mirror-pictures”: reflecting surfaces onto which are pasted life-size images of men and women, turning us into protagonists as we wander in front of them. These “traps” set for viewers are increasingly successful in the sales rooms. The artist’s first bid of over a million was posted in February 2013 with a 1962 self-portrait: £1.1 million excluding the buyer’s premium in London – the equivalent of nearly $2 million if the premium is included (Autoritratto del 62 (Self-Portrait of 62), 13 February 2013, Christie’s London). The Louvre effect should boost sale results still further this year, provided that the pieces on offer are equal to the occasion. In less than six months, this year’s performances already equal two-thirds of Pistoletto’s sale results in 2012.

Soutine: a year in a single hammer stoke

Soutine recently made a new record sale at the major Impressionist and Modern sales in New York, when Le petit pâtissier, painted by the artist in around 1927, soared to $16 million (its low estimate) on 8 May 2013 at Christie’s. This figure alone exceeds all the works sold at auction in 2012 (with results equivalent to $14.8 million excluding buyers’ premiums). So why did this painting garner such a high figure?

Firstly, accomplished pictures by Soutine are a rare commodity in the sales rooms; secondly, collectors are numerous, and come from all over the world. (This work, incidentally, was acquired by a Chinese collector.) In addition, the melancholy character of the subject makes it a flagship work in modern European art.

Le petit pâtissier on offer here is the sixth and last painting devoted by Soutine to this subject. Considered the most achieved of the series, its extensive pedigree and high quality led Christie’s to make a strong commitment to the success of its sale, by contracting a guarantee with the seller of this little masterpiece beforehand. The last painting on offer in this series sold for half the price in 2005, again under Christie’s hammer (Le pâtissier de Cagnes, 4,5 m£, 7 février 2005, Christie’s Londres). If the latter reappeared in the sales rooms this year, it could pick up a few million on the way.

Venice Biennial: poised to open

The Venice Biennial, an international exhibition and one of the world’s most prestigious contemporary art events, opens on 1 June 2013. Top contemporary artists who have featured at the Serenissima includeJasper JOHNS, Anish KAPOOR, Gerhard RICHTER, Shirin NESHAT, Thomas SCHÜTTE, Richard SERRA, among many others.
At the 55th Biennial, the key names are AI Weiwei (German pavilion) and Joana VASCONCELOS (Portuguese pavilion), already with a roaring market in the sales rooms.The artist Anri SALA, representing France, is more accustomed to this type of event than to auctions: he was just 17 when he received the Young Artist’s Prize at the 49th Venice Biennial (2001) with his film Uomoduomo.
Twelve years later, his curriculum vitae has fleshed out impressively, if only for his stopovers in 2012 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Palazzo Grassi – François Pinault Foundation. His dubbing by the second market will certainly be the next stage.
The event has not yet begun, but the Golden Lion verdict is already out: Austrian artist Maria LASSNIG has won one, and the Italian Marisa MERZ another. The two artists will receive their awards on 1st June, the day the Biennial opens. It lasts until 24th November.

Maria Lassnig, born 1919, is hardly a novice in the auctions rooms, where her best paintings already command prices between $100,000 and $350,000. Meanwhile, Marisa Merz, born in 1931, is completely new to the bidding world. This important prize could well energise her market over the next few months.