Going Crazy for Works on Paper – artmarketblog.com

Going Crazy for Works on Paper – artmarketblog.com

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Tête de femme signed and dated '30 Mars 43 Picasso' (lower right) gouache and wash on paper 25 7/8 x 19 7/8 in. (65.7 x 50.4 cm.) Executed on 30 March 1943

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Tête de femme signed and dated '30 Mars 43 Picasso' (lower right) gouache and wash on paper 25 7/8 x 19 7/8 in. (65.7 x 50.4 cm.) Executed on 30 March 1943

During the major art auctions that have taken place over the last few months in London and New York there has been a particularly noticeable demand for original works on paper. In particular, original works on paper by the most popular modern artists such as Picasso, Calder, Chagall etc. have been particularly popular with prices at auction routinely exceeding the top estimate thanks to highly competitive bidding. Because works on paper are usually the domain of the connoisseurs who have a stronger appreciation for the non-visual aspects, it is unusual for works on paper to be so strongly fought over. However, as the supply of works available for sale by the most famous modern artists continues to dry up, the demand for works by the big names has created a situation where even the works that are usually considered to be far less desirable are being snapped up with unprecedented urgency.

The most fought over pieces have been those with imagery similar to that which is typical of major works from the artists oeuvre, and that have the appearance of finished original works of art as opposed to studies or cartoons (even if they are). It is the larger scale coloured works that give the strongest impression of being original and finished works of art and, as such, are the most sought after. The price of works on paper, by the some of the most desirable big names such as Alexander Calder, have been creeping up in price for some time now as supply of works by such artists becomes inevitably smaller as time progresses. Even though owners of valuable works of art are sitting on their artistic assets while the art market finds its feet thus reducing the supply of works on the market, the level of demand for what is available is way above what most people expected. With demand out-stripping supply to the extent that we are currently seeing one can only conclude that there the market for art is still strong and there is plenty of money available to be spent.

To give you some idea of the sort of demand we are seeing for works on paper here are some recent auction results:

Sale Information:

Sale 2168
post-war and contemporary art morning sale
14 May 2009
New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Lot Description:

Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Spirally Lady
signed and dated ‘Calder ’44’ (lower right)
ink and gouache on paper
30¾ x 22½ in. (78.1 x 57.1 cm.)
Painted in 1944.

Estimate: $30,000 – $40,000
Price Realised: $188,500 (including premium)

Sale Information:

Sale 7736
impressionist/modern works on paper
24 June 2009
London, King Street

Lot Description:

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Tête de femme
signed and dated ’30 Mars 43 Picasso’ (lower right)
gouache and wash on paper
25 7/8 x 19 7/8 in. (65.7 x 50.4 cm.)
Executed on 30 March 1943

Estimate: £110,000 – £150,000
Price Realised: £313,250 (Including Premium)

Lot Description:

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Mädchenakt am Ofen
signed ‘E L Kirchner 12’ (lower right); with the Nachlass stamp numbered ‘A Be/Bg 1’ (on the reverse)
watercolour and black chalk on paper
14 7/8 x 17¾ in. (37.8 x 45.2 cm.)
Executed in 1914

Price Realized: £181,250 (Including Premium)
Estimate: £40,000 – £60,000

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

One Response

  1. It is my humble opinion that some of the most powerful art work is drawing on paper. I awakened from a dream back in 1986. The dream was of a crippled hand reaching up to a most Perfect Hand. I sketched it the very next morning in pencil, and to this day, I think it is my favorite work. The words that came automatically after I sketched the hands were:

    “A crippled world reaching for strength and hope.”
    “The artistic gift is a double edged sword; It’s bright light pierces your soul.”
    “Only when you truly give of yourself will you experience the release from bondage.”

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