The 2010 Art Market Review – artmarkeblog.com

The 2010 Art Market Review – artmarkeblog.com

2010 has been one of the most confusing, unpredictable and unexplainable years for me as an art market analyst. So many of the trends, events and fads that emerged during 2010 did not appear to be caused by the sort of conditions, have the same effects, or follow the same path of logic that one would expect they would given the way things have panned out in past years. This leaves me with no doubt that the art market is evolving at such a rapid pace that there is little point trying to justify or explain the events of today using logic that is based on the progression and events of previous years. In fact, more of the art market events that took place during 2010 appeared to defy logic than ever before. I do, however, strongly believe that one of the reasons that it has become even more difficult to determine what is going on with the art market is that the art market (auction houses in particular) has become adept at making the situation appear much better than it really is. Whether it be by skewing figures or manipulating the way results are perceived – galleries, fairs and auction houses have become the plastic surgeons of the art world.

What has also made 2010 such a hard year to analyse was the contraction, and slow regeneration, of the market for the work of trendy emerging artists and recent works by top contemporary artists – both of which are usually the most global, visible and publicised sectors of the market. As the market moves towards the work of artists with a proven track record, collectors and investors have shifted their focus from the usually dominant and globally relevant contemporary art market to the work of artists from a wide of variety of styles, mediums and movements that cannot appear to have very little in common. This has resulted in a situation where there is not one dominant global trend that art market analysts such as myself can focus on, but a number of smaller and disjointed trends that make reading the market particularly difficult.

A few months ago I wrote a series of posts on what I believed was a move towards a more sentimental art market, which appears to be exactly the direction that the market has headed. General disillusionment with the contemporary art market has sent many collectors and investors take a more sentimental approach to fine art that is characterised by a focus on the safety of more established artists and the familiarity of artists that they can relate to. When art collectors or investors seek safety and familiarity they are most likely to gravitate towards works by artists from the era and culture that they have the greatest connection to. This would explain the large number of seemingly unrelated trends that emerged during 2010 many of which involved previously unfashionable styles and movements that are distinctly associated with a particular era or culture.

There is no doubt that the art market has recovered far quicker than many people thought possible. Again, the unexpectedly rapid recovery has thrown a spanner in the works when it comes to analysing the art market and trying to make sense of what is going on. Some journalists and analysts have gone as far as to admit that they cannot explain how a market that seemed to be at breaking point could make such a rapid recovery. To give you an idea of how quickly the art market has recovered, in March of this year (2010) Walter Robinson, editor of Artnet Magazine, said that “Art Market Watch has been on something of a hiatus during the last few months. What with the recession, reporting on auction results just isn’t as compelling as it was during the boom years”. Six weeks later a painting by Picasso become the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction when it fetched a staggering $106.5 million. A week after that an Andy Warhol self portrait sold at Sotheby’s for $32.6 million (more than twice the estimate) setting a new record for a Warhol self portrait at auction. Compelling enough?

When it comes to rationalising art market events there is much to be gained from knowing who has money to spend and how much they have to spend. The top end of the market is fuelled by super wealthy collectors whose level of wealth would not have been affected enough by the financial crisis to deter them from buying art. Therefore at the high end of the art market things have been pretty solid as is evident from the number of record auction prices set in 2010. The lower end of the market is fuelled by collectors who focus on edgy and trendy contemporary art by emerging and newly established artists, and who will usually have a high level of interest in the cultural and artistic side of fine art. Collectors at the lower end of the market are a very determined group who are always going to be around even if they appear a little less active at times. Things at the lower end have improved but have done so at a less than rapid pace which makes it difficult to judge where this sector of the market is heading. Without a doubt the sector of the art market that has suffered for the longest period of time due to the effects of the global financial crisis and the art market downturn is the middle market. The middle market includes lesser works by big name artists, and the more expensive (less justifiable) works by the trendy contemporary artists, which makes the middle market a sort of currently un-necessary compromise for the super rich, and a stretch too far for the modestly well off. Middle market works are, however, perfect for the financial advisor and hedge fund manager types who are more interested in art as a status symbol than the quality or art historical importance of the works they are buying. With the pay packets of hedge fund managers and financial advisors taking a massive hit due to the financial crisis, there is little interest in the middle market works. The super rich are still rich enough to not have to compromise and settle for middle market works and the modestly well off continue to fuel the lower end of the market.
My next post will be the top ten art market 2010 so stay tuned……..

**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

The Great Contemporary Art Market Cock-Up – artmarketblog.com

The Great Contemporary Art Market Cock-Up – artmarketblog.com

All last week I was bombarded with headlines that announced the returning strength of the contemporary art market thanks to the phenomenal prices achieved for works by artists such as Warhol, Lichtenstein and Klein whose work was described by one major newspaper as the fons et origo (latin for source and origin) of contemporary art. Now I am not trying to be rude or degrade the journalists who make this mistake, but Warhol, Klein (Yves) and Lichtenstein are NOT CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS, and their work is NOT CONTEMPORARY ART !!. To be honest, I am sick of hearing and seeing artists of another era being referred to as ‘contemporary’, because they are not. The fact that Warhol, Klein and Lichtenstein are all dead – and were all born in the 1920’s – should be enough of an indication that their work should not be classified as contemporary any more. As for myself, when I refer to the work of contemporary artists I am referring to artists who are currently alive, active and producing work that is in line with the prevailing contemporary ethos. At this point I would like to say that there are many journalists and market representatives who do make the correct distinctions between post-war and contemporary art to whom I would like to give a round of applause.

The reason this trend of referring to the likes of Warhol, Lichtenstein and Klein as contemporary artists annoys me so much is because many representatives from the media and the market have been announcing the return of the contemporary art market based on records achieved by artists who are NOT contemporary artists. Thankfully, some market representatives and some journalists have rightly referred to the work of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Klein etc. as postmodern or post-war, which is a much more accurate description. I do, however, also have a problem with the use of the term post-war because of the broadness of the category which I think is another marketing ploy – but would still prefer they use the term ‘post-war’ instead of ‘contemporary’. Although this may seem like a small problem not worthy of being discussed, I think there are too many little issues that are not discussed – issues that together can cause major confusion and misunderstanding.

This whole ploy of including anything produced post world war II in contemporary art auctions and referring to them as works of contemporary art is just not right. In fact, it is deceptive and misleading. So why do some auction houses continue promoting the likes of Warhol, Klein and Lichtenstein as contemporary artists and alongside true contemporary artists? – I believe it is for three very simple yet potentially very lucrative reasons. Firstly, the association of emerging artist with the likes of Warhol, Klein and Lichtenstein lends more credibility and validity to the work of emerging artists. Secondly, the inclusion of a few big names in a contemporary art auction pretty much guarantees that a poor performance by the work of the true contemporary artists will be overshadowed by the success of the work of their predecessors. Thirdly, artists such as Klein, Warhol and Lichtenstein attract large and wealthy crowds who are more likely to throw down some money on the work of an emerging artist if the room is already buzzing from the record sale of a Warhol. Essentially, the inclusion of work by Modern masters such as Warhol, Klein and Lichtenstein appears to be nothing more than a clever marketing ploy.

If you disagree with my opinion then consider for a moment these definitions of the term ‘contemporary’ :

-marked by characteristics of the present period
-happening, existing, living, or coming into being during the same period of time
-belonging to the present time
-characteristic of the present; “contemporary trends in design”

As far as I am concerned, each of these definitions are blatant indications that the work of Warhol, Klein and Lichtenstein cannot be referred to as being contemporary.

The current definition of contemporary art that is used by a large portion of the art market – auction houses in particular – is basically a creation of the market it’s self that serves the pursuits of the auction houses very well. Although the journalists appear to be the main protagonists when it comes to promoting the work of non-contemporary artists as contemporary, the auction houses certainly don’t seem to do anything to discourage this practice. Although some auction houses do hold auctions that are promoted as including post-war and contemporary art, many fail to make much of an effort to distinguish between the contemporary and the post-war, which leaves the journalists free to make the incorrect assumptions and associations regarding the classification of the works – perhaps a cunning ploy by the auction houses to avoid being accused of incorrectly classifying the works. Regardless of who it is that is ultimately responsible for the errors being made, I think it is important that something be done to stop this misleading practice. In the interest of fairness I would like to encourage anyone who has a view on this issue – whether in agreement with my opinion or not – to make a comment below.

 

**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

A New Sentimental Art Market Era Pt. 4 -artmarketblog.com

A New Sentimental Art Market Era Pt. 4 -artmarketblog.com

It has been said before that nostalgia prospers during recessionary times so, considering that the western world has just begun to recover from a major recessionary period, it would make sense that the art market is trending towards a focus on the nostalgic and sentimental.  The length of time that this era of sentimentality and nostalgia will last is anyone’s guess, but given that the boom lasted longer than most expected, the recovery time for the contemporary sector of the market could be just as long – except that it probably won’t be.  It would be nice to be able to report that the saying ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’ applies to the contemporary art market but, unfortunately, there are signs that the next puppets are already being groomed in preparation for the next inevitable contemporary cozenage.  The only question is how long it will take for the art market to once again become hypnotised by the glitz and glamour of the consumerist contemporary art regime.  In the mean time, it is great to see a level of intimacy, passion and involvement being brought back into the market that was conspicuously absent during the contemporary driven boom.

According to an article titled ‘Investors renew passion for modern masters’ ,which appeared in the Guardian newspaper, “When an alluring seated nude, La Belle Romaine, broke all records for a painting by the Italian artist Modigliani on Tuesday – selling for $69m (£42.7m) at auction in New York – the extraordinary price tag marked a historic moment in the art market. It shows that investors are turning back to the relative certainties of the modern masters and away from more risky contemporary art”.  This statement confirms that buyers are taking a much more cautious approach to the art market by buying works that they are more familiar with and have some sort of affinity with – a key characteristic of a sentimental art market era.  The care and thought that buyers are exhibiting when making purchases shows that they are seeking a much more intimate and passionate connection with the works of art that they are purchasing which is a trend that one would expect to see during a sentimental art market era.  Another key characteristic of this sentimental art market era is a sort of nationalistic sentimentalism that is likely to emerge as disillusioned collectors and investors who experienced the contemporary art market correction seek more genuine and justifiable reasons for purchasing works of art – reasons that provide a more fulfilling, intimate and involved art collecting experience as opposed to the cold and calculated commercialism that characterised the contemporary art market boom. Nationalistic sentimentalism can be defined as the purchase of works of art from one’s own country out of a sense of pride and sentimentality.

Both these characteristics allude to a market that is seeking a more intimate and involved connection with the works of art they are collecting or investing in.  I would expect that this trend will continue to develop throughout 2011 as the global art market attempts to heal the wounds that the emerging contemporary art market bubble inflicted.  This will be the last post on this topic for the time being unless any further corroborating indicators come to light.

**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

A New Sentimental Art Market Era Pt. 3 – artmarketblog.com

A New Sentimental Art Market Era Pt. 3 – artmarketblog.com

If you want some further examples of the sentimental and nostalgic direction that the art market is beginning to take then I shall provide you with two more. The first example is the direction that the Australian Aboriginal art market has taken recently in response to a severe drop in prices and a major change in perception caused by several factors that I will discuss shortly. Australian Aboriginal art experienced a huge boom roughly in conjunction with the global contemporary art market boom, which saw prices for Australian Aboriginal art skyrocket, and the market for said works expand at a rapid rate. Unfortunately, that boom turned to a spectacular bust for much the same reasons and at roughly the same time that the global contemporary art market took a massive hit.

Much like the global contemporary art market, the Australian Aboriginal art market boom saturated the market with a plethora of rubbish, which in turn diluted the overall quality and relevance of the works of Australian Aboriginal art that were available on the market. Although it may seem that such a situation would serve to increase the value and desirability of the top quality works, it is just as likely (if not more likely) to make people question the value of the entire market and become rather disillusioned with the whole sector or genre – which is exactly what happened. Rampant fakery, forgery and mimicry, combined with obstructive and useless attempts at regulating the Australian Aboriginal art market, caused collectors and investors to fly the white flag of defeat in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstructions. As an indication of how far the Aboriginal art market has fallen as result of the problems associated with the market, the Australian Art Sales Digest has calculated that the value of Aboriginal art put up for auction has fallen from a high of just under $24 million in 2007 to just under $11 million in 2009. 2010 is shaping up to be yet another disappointing year for Australian Aboriginal art with total auction offerings likely to be even less than last 2009.

In response to the rather dire situation that the Australian Aboriginal art market is facing, the market and cultural sector has begun to focus on the Aboriginal master artists of the past who were the real reason that Aboriginal art became so popular. With most art movements and styles there are a small group of artists who pioneer the movement/style and whose work is considered to be the most legitimate and authentic. As a new movement/style progresses it is inevitable that other artists will begin to imitate the characteristics of the work of the pioneering artists in the hope of reproducing their success. In conjunction with the progression of that movement/style there is a tendency for the original purpose and intent of that movement/style to become severely diluted as more and more artists join the procession. The further the movement/style progresses, the more disconnected the movement/style becomes from the original purpose and intention. This is what happened with the Aboriginal art market and also with the global contemporary art market. Fixing such a problem means regaining the integrity, legitimacy and validity that the movement /style once had. To regain the integrity and legitimacy of the beginnings of a movement/style one must return to the roots of that movement/style – a process that is happening with the Australian Aboriginal art market and the global contemporary art market. Australian Aboriginal art dealers and other interested parties have begun to “rediscover ” the work of the early pioneers and disassociate themselves with the work of the plethora of imitators. Because most of the original Aboriginal master artists are either dead or very elderly so focussing on this sector of the market is a very sentimental affair indeed – especially for the families of the deceased artists.

The other example I want to use is the recent reconnection that the French have made with Monet – one of their most famous sons. Although the western world has embraced Monet and made him one of the most valued and respected artists to have ever laid paint to canvas, the French have long considered his work to be far too commercial for their sophisticated tastes. The Paris’ Galleries Nationales recently launched the first retrospective of Monet’s work since 1980 in the hope of reviving interest in the work of one of the world’s most highly valued artists. What makes this exhibition so significant is the reasoning behind the decision to hold this exhibition at this particular time. Guy Cogeval was appointed to the Presidency of the Musee d’Orsay in 2008 and is the curator of the Monet exhibition which is currently on show at the Grand Palais in Paris. When Cogeval was asked by Juliette Soulez of ARTINFO France (fr.artinfo.com): Why have a Claude Monet retrospective today?, Cogeval replied “Fifteen years ago, I personally felt that everything had been said about Monet and that people talked about him too much. I lived in North America for eight years and there were many Monet shows — it was almost a craze”. Then when asked if he was happy with the retrospective, Cogeval said “Overwhelmingly, visitors walking through this exhibition — including Impressionist specialists and college professors and my fellow curators — feel that they’re seeing a Monet they didn’t know before”. Both these statements suggest to me that a similar thing happened to Monet to what happened to the Australian Aboriginal art market and the global contemporary art market. It seems that a long period of western commercialisation of Monet’s work combined with what was essentially an overabundance of Monet focused scholarship effected a gradual diversion away from the “real” Monet.

The French, who were on the outside looking in, obviously cottoned on to what was happening to people’s perception of Monet’s work and were quite rightly disgusted by what was happening. I recently read a review of a book called The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings by Grace Seiberling of the University of Rochester who I think summed up the situation perfectly when she said about the book that: “Their focus on Monet as an artistic genius is in accord with the demands of a particular kind of inquiry into Impressionism, connected with museum exhibitions, and focused on the formal achievements of the sort of artistic superstars who attract paying visitors”. What Guy Cogeval is doing is taking a sentimental and nostalgic approach to Monet’s work in the hope that it will fix the damage that has been done.

**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

A New Sentimental Art Market Era Pt. 2 – artmarketblog.com

A New Sentimental Art Market Era Pt. 2 – artmarketblog.com

The demise of the world famous Polaroid Company, and the subsequent sale of many iconic and nostalgic images from the Polaroid Company collection, is yet another example of an event that ties in with the onset of a new sentimental art market era that I began writing about in my previous post. A casualty of the digital age, the bankrupt Polaroid Company was forced to sell off 1200 photographs by artists such as Ansel Adams, Mr. Close, Mr. Wegman, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Robert Frank, Robert Mapplethorpe, Warhol and Lucas Samaras to pay off creditors. The June 2010 sale conducted by Sotheby’s attracted huge interested and managed to exceed expectations with a final total of $12.5 million – well above the high estimate – and a new auction record for Ansel Adams whose ‘Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park’ achieved the sale’s top price of $722,500. Along with the sale of the Lehman Brothers collection, the sale of the Polaroid collection is yet another art market event that evokes a sense of nostalgia; the sale of the Polaroid collection was a particularly sentimental occasion because it essentially represented the demise of an entire artistic medium. Together, these two events signalled the beginning of the end of an era that started with the art market losing its innocence with the Sotheby’s price fixing scandal that surfaced in 2000, and the world losing its innocence with the life changing events of 11th September 2001.

The art market era we are in the process of farewelling will be remembered for three things: the rise of emerging markets, conspicuous consumption and a voracious appetite for the work of daring young contemporary artists. As much as I am enjoying an art market far less obsessed with daring young artists and conspicuous consumption, I am sure that we have not seen the last of either of them. I do, however, believe that we have almost seen the last of the mania associated with emerging markets. The maturation of what were some of the last undeveloped art markets capable of playing on the world stage makes me think that the global art market of the future may be struggle to fill the void that these now rapidly developing markets have left. South East Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia have all experienced rapid rates of art market development that have thrust many artists from these countries onto the world stage. Also experiencing considerable development are markets in regions such as Latin-America and the Middle East. Even China is taking steps to develop a more mature and accountable art market with the development of an art trading organization that will set an example in helping to regulate the art market. The Beijing Imperial City Art Trading Center is, according to an article from Xinhuanet, a “two-story art-trading center covers 3,700 square meters and includes different sections for displaying, trading and education”.

Sentimentality is an unavoidable consequence of the maturation process that the few previously undeveloped art markets have undergone over the last few years. The hype that usually surrounds the “discovery” of an untapped, undeveloped art market has to be replaced by something when there are no longer any underdeveloped markets to discover. Those previously undeveloped markets also need to replace the momentum that an emerging, developing market experiences with a more long term and sustainable source of momentum. Emerging art markets are usually developed using fresh, emerging talent because it is easier to introduce unknown fresh talent into the contemporary art market than it is to introduce unknown (from a global perspective) established masters to the modern/classical art market. As one would expect, when the momentum associated with an emerging art market runs dry, that market will begin looking to the past for new sources of momentum and thus automatically develop a more sentimental and nostalgic market.

To be continued……………..

**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

The Rise of Victorian Paintings Pt. 2 – artmarketblog.com

The Rise of Victorian Paintings Pt. 2 – artmarketblog.com

The availability and affordability of top Victorian paintings during the first half of the 20th Century allowed a select few collectors to corner the market and put together amazing collections of major historical and cultural significance. A short resurgence of interest in the Victorian era during the 60’s, particularly in the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, saw even more of the few remaining top Victorian paintings go to private American and British collectors. With so many of the best that the Victorian era had to offer hidden away in the private collections of a few wealthy individuals, the market was left with an abundance of second and third rate works. Considering that a majority of the Victorian era’s top works of art were hidden for so long behind closed doors, it is no wonder that Victorian era paintings suffered such a poor reputation for so long.

With no financial or other incentive to sell works from their collection, most of the paintings snapped up during the first half of the 20th century, and the 60’s revival, remained in the hands of collectors and behind closed doors. Death, debt and disaster proved to be the saving graces for the market as a variety of unfortunate circumstances led to a number of the best private collections of Victorian paintings being released back onto the market after spending decades out of sight and out of mind. The auction houses love nothing more than a single owner collection that has not been exposed to the market for decades and, as these collections began to become available, spared no effort in making them seem as desirable as possible.

The first of the major collections of Victorian paintings to make an impact on the market was that of American millionaire Fred Koch who, in 1993, sold his major collection of Victorian paintings which consisted mainly of narrative work by artists such as Alma-Tadema, Tissot and Lord Leighton. Koch is thought to have made the decision to sell his collection after plans to open a museum in London were somewhat affected by a huge fire at a storage facility that housed most of the furnishings for the museum, as well as Koch’s collection of Bronzes, all of which were destroyed. The devastation of the fire is rumored to have been so disheartening for Koch that he lost his passion for Victorian paintings. Koch began by selling some of his collection in Britain through Sotheby’s and achieved some success, particularly with a 7ft painting of the Emperor Heliogabalus drowning his courtiers in rose petals by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema which sold for 1,651,500 pounds. Also achieving a high price was a painting by Sir Frank Dicksee of a a seventh-century Persian heroine reclining on cushions with a vase of lilies by her side which sold for 793,500 pounds. It was, however, in New York that works from Koch’s collection received the best reception with Christie’s selling Tissot’s “L’Orphine” for a record US$2,970,000. A few months later further works from Koch’s collection were entrusted to Sotheby’s New York who sold Alma-Tadema’s “Baths of Carcalla” for a record US$2,532,500.

To be continued……………..

**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

Boo Saville at Trolley Gallery – artmarketblog.com

Boo Saville at Trolley Gallery – artmarketblog.com

One of my favourite young artists, Boo Saville, is currently having her work exhibited by Trolley Gallery in London. Saville’s interest in the visual representation of death has been a recurring theme in her work which she has continued to explore in this new body of work. What I love about Saville’s work is that she doesn’t just express herself through the image it’s self but also uses the medium she is working at the time to add another dimension of emotion and effect to her work. The gestures, textures and the different physical properties of her chosen medium are all used to great effect to convey the message and emotion that Saville is aiming for. It is her amazing understanding of the tools of her trade that make Saville such an effective and encapsulating artist whose work is sure to impress. Definitely an exhibition worth checking out.

Exhibition Summary:
Trolley Gallery is proud to present a second solo show by artist Boo Saville. Entitled ‘Totem’, this new body of work encapsulates the unifying anthropological and archeological aspects evident in her work, and her representation of the deceased captured through an exploration of various forms of mark-making, itself a reflection of human expression and representation. Saville constantly researches source material from a wide variety of documentary and scientific origins; books, journals and resources such as the Wellcome Institute. The internet also offers an almost limitless exploration of imagery and keywords, the small, often low resolution images becoming the direct subject matter in the final work, where the colours and often gnarled compositions of a deceased human translate into a delicate and detailed painting and drawing. “There is beauty and creativity in the process of destruction. I am interested in decay not as a negative reduction but as a unifying symbol of matter, of our bodies. There is a clarity for me when something is stripped down to the bare bones and studied or just observed.”

http://www.trolleybooks.com/exhibitionSingle.php?exhibId=283
Trolley Books
73a Redchurch Street
London
E2 7DJ

tel +44(0)20 7729 6591
fax +44(0)20 7739 5948

**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

The Sexist Art World in 2009 – artmarketblog.com

The Sexist Art World in 2009 – artmarketblog.com

ONE OF SIX POSTERS BY THE GUERRILLA GIRLS IN THE BIENNALE EXHIBITION "ALWAYS A LITTLE FURTHER," CURATED BY ROSA MARTINEZ

ONE OF SIX POSTERS BY THE GUERRILLA GIRLS IN THE BIENNALE EXHIBITION "ALWAYS A LITTLE FURTHER," CURATED BY ROSA MARTINEZ

In 1989 a group of anonymous feminist art world activists, who called themselves the Guerrilla Girls, created a poster that asked the question “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?”. Below this question it was stated that “Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female”. Unfortunately, since 1989 things have not improved much at all. This poster was re-created by the Guerilla Girls for the 2005 Venice Biennale with the same image but different text. The 2005 Venice Biennale poster read “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?” then below was “Less than 3% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 83% of the nudes are female”. See the difference?. Yes, the number of female artists in the Modern Art sections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art had actually reduced in the 15 years between the original poster, and the re-assessment of the collection conducted by the Guerrilla Girls in the fall of 2004. Not only had the percentage of works by women artists gone down but the percentage of nudes that are of females went down as well. This means that there are now more male nudes than there were which I am not sure whether to be pleased about or not.

It is quite obvious that we have a long way to go. Consider the fact that up until 1986 H.W. Janson’s famous ‘History of Art’ textbook did not include any female artists. When questioned in 1979 about the lack of female artists in his textbook, Janson said that he couldn’t find a female artist who he thought belonged in a one volume book on the history of art. As a comparison I looked through the textbook that I was required to use when I completed by Bachelor of Arts (Art History and Criticism) degree from 2001-2003. My copy of E.H.Gombrich’s ‘The Story of Art’ was printed in 1995 and has a sticker on the front of it that states that over 6,000,000 copies of the book have sold which makes it “The World’s Best Selling Art Book”. Okay, so how does the world’s best selling art book rate when it comes to recognising female artists?. I would love to be able to say that it rates well but not surprisingly it rates extremely poorly. Out of all the images in the book there was only one I could find that was by a women artists – an image of a lithograph titled ‘Need’ by Kathe Kollwitz. I haven’t had a chance to re-read the whole book to see how many female artists are featured in the book but at the present time it seems that Kathe Kollwitz is the only one.

What about the commercial sector?. Brainstormers, A New York Based art collective that aims to highlight the gross gender inequities in the contemporary New York Art, has a website called the Brain Stormers Report which provides information relating to their cause. One section of the website titled “Top 30 Offenders 2008” has screen shots of the websites of the 30 NY commercial galleries that have the lowest percentage of female artists as of May 2008. You can take a look at the rather disappointing stats here:

http://www.brainstormersreport.net/Top30Offenders2008.html

It would be unfair to suggest that there hasn’t been any progress on the issue of gender inequality in the art world because there has. There are many museums that have increased the number of works by female artists in their collections such as the Pompidou Centre in Paris. In fact, the Pompidou Centre is currently holding a year long exhibition of works by 200 female artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. According to the director of the centre’s modern art collections, no museum has ever done this before – a fact that is disturbing to say the least. Also hopping on the female artist bandwagon is the UK’s Walker Art Gallery which is holding an exhibition titled “The Rise of Women Artists – From 16th century to present day” from the 23 October 2009 to 14 March 2010. According to the press release for the exhibition: “The exhibition traces the historical changes affecting women, looking at their status and careers as they moved to assert themselves as artists in their own right”.

Although there are institutions that do deserve to be recognised for at least making some effort to correct the imbalance, the overall rate of progress has been abysmal to say the least especially when it comes to the cultural sector. I have plenty more to say on this issue to stay tuned.

To be continued…………

**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.

Sold to Richard Green – artmarketblog.com

Sold to Richard Green – artmarketblog.com

Thomas Gainsborough R.A., A Pug, oil on canvas

Thomas Gainsborough R.A., A Pug, oil on canvas

While browsing through the top results of recent auctions, as provided by Sotheby’s through their press releases, I came across something that I don’t see to often – the identity of a buyer listed in the release. Usually under the heading “Buyer” there is an indication of what sort of buyer they are and sometimes where they are from. Examples of the usual identities given to buyers are: UK Private, UK Trade, Private European Collector, London Trade or, as is often the case, a buyer is listed as anonymous. I continued perusing the press releases when I came across another with the same buyer once again identified as having purchased a painting that had achieved one of the ten highest prices of the auction. The buyer in question was the very well known London art dealer Richard Green who dabbles in everything from 17th century Old Masters to 20th century British art but is best known for his dealings in Old Master paintings.

In a market where a high level of discretion is the norm for both buyers and sellers it is interesting that a dealer in Old Master paintings, of all people, would be so transparent with their dealings. It makes sense though that if you are a dealer and want to sell a painting that having your name on the press release identifying you as the successful bidder would not only advertise your business but attract potential buyers. This tactic seems to be working quite well for Mr. Green whose business seems to be fairing extremely well in the current climate. There is, however, more to the story of Richard Green and his success as an art dealer. Much more in fact. To start with, the two works that I said were listed by Sotheby’s as having been purchased by Mr. Green are rather revealing. The first painting was purchased on the 9th of July from the Sotheby’s Early British Paintings sale and was an oil on canvas by Thomas Gainsborough titled “A Pug”. Listed with an estimate of 100,000-150,000 pounds, “A Pug” was purchased by Green for £993,250 (including premium) which, other than being more then six times the high estimate, was the highest price of the auction. The second work was a painting by Herbert Olivier titled “Summer Is Icumen In” which Green purchased  from Sotheby’s July 15 Victorian & Edwardian Art sale. He paid for 331,250 pounds against an estimate of 80,000—120,000 pounds estimate – a new record for the artist at auction and the third highest price of the sale.

Richard Green is known for identifying then purchasing works of art that he, as a results of his research, has identified as being undervalued. In fact, there are many reports of Green uncovering hidden gems which he then manages to on-sell for many times more than he paid for them. Both “A Pug” and “Summer Is Icumen In” were purchased by Green for well above the high estimate which suggests that Green identified these two works as being undervalued. One thing is for sure, he would not have paid what he did for these two works unless he was confident that they would appeal to his wealthy clientele and that he would be able to make a profit from them. Exactly what Green knows about these two paintings that makes them so much more valuable than the estimate provided by Sotheby’s I do not know. What I do know is that the research Green does, and his scholarly knowledge of the art he deals in, has played a major role in his success. One of the smartest dealers around if you ask me.

**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.

Casting for Art World Reality Show – artmarketblog.com

Casting for Art World Reality Show – artmarketblog.com

tv2If you’re an artist who would like the opportunity to be on television and you think you have what it takes to be the next star contemporary art world then keep reading. With all sorts of people from aspiring chefs to wannabe models getting the chance strut their stuff on television while competing with other contestants for honour and glory, it is about time that artists got a slice of the pie. You may remember a show called Artstar that aired in 2006 where artists were a group of carefully selected emerging artists were given the chance to strut their stuff. Well, it appears that this Untitled Art Project program takes things a step further and will actually give artists the chance to compete with other artists for the chance to win some sort of prize – presumably some sort of promotional opportunity. It sounds like this show is going to be really awesome so I would encourage all eligible artists to enter. For more information see the press release and associated links below

Press Release:

How do you go from struggling, emerging or even semi-established artist to selling a complete show for $198 million? It’s a big art world out there, but maybe this is one place to start!

Magical Elves (Peabody Award-winning Project Runway, Emmy Award-winning Top Chef) and Sarah Jessica Parker (Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-winner) and her production company, Pretty Matches, are teaming up for an hour-long creative competition series among aspiring contemporary artists who will create and compete to conquer the art world!

If you’re an emerging or mid-career visual artist with a unique, powerful voice that demands a bigger stage – well. . . Here.  It.  Is.

We want contemporary artists. Your medium could be one of many (or several of many) – painting, sculpture, installation, video, photography, mixed-media – we want voices that believe in their art and want the world to know.

*To be considered for the cast, attend one of our four regional casting calls around the country, see below.*

Go to www.BravoTV.com/casting to download an application and see what you need to bring with you to an open call.

GOOD LUCK.

*********************

OPEN CALL INFO:
LOS ANGELES
LA><ART
http://laxart.org/
Saturday July 11th & Sunday, July 12th
10:00am – 2:00pm

MIAMI
Fredric Snitzer Gallery
http://snitzer.com/
Tuesday, July 14th
10:00am – 2:00pm

CHICAGO
School of the Art Institute : Sullivan Galleries : 33 State Street
http://www.saic.edu/
Thursday, July 16th
10:00am – 2:00pm

NEW YORK
White Columns
http://www.whitecolumns.org/
Saturday, July 18th & Sunday, July 19th
10:00am – 2:00pm

**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.

Niki de Saint Phalle Braves the Crisis – artmarketblog.com

Niki de Saint Phalle Braves the Crisis – artmarketblog.com

ndsp 1After the sale of three Niki de Saint-Phalle’s giant Nanas in Germany in December 2008 for €750,000, the Paris sale last month of her Le Banc produced another excellent result. The French-American artist – whose works are collected all over the world – is generating good sales performances in spite of the crisis.

Born in France and raised in the United States, Niki SAINT-PHALLE de successfully steered her career under the two flags at a key moment in the history of art and of the art market. Indeed, at the start of the 60s – when Niki de Saint-Phalle was creating her first Tirs and Nanas – the art market’s centre of gravity was being pulled across the Atlantic towards the United States and the American Pop Art phenomenon. Niki, who was associated with the New Realists in France, created the most distinctly “Pop” works of the French movement using a playful iconography of curves and colours. By successfully establishing herself as a female artist on both sides of the Atlantic, Niki de Saint-Phalle managed to join the ranks of artists whose price-indices enjoy international recognition (unlike some of the other New Realists, including her partner Jean TINGUELY). Nevertheless, the market for her work has remained more dynamic in France, and 35% of her auction sales take place in her native country. In terms of sales revenue, the geographical breakdown of her auction sales (often involving monumental pieces) is as follows: 38% in France, 31% in the UK and 15% in the United States.

Her Nanas – buxom women made with fibres glass and painted in bright colours – easily reach and exceed the estimate. Niki created her first Nanas in papier mâché and fibre in 1965, inspired by a friend’s pregnancy. Initially uncoloured, her joyous Venuses soon acquired multi-coloured surfaces – leading a playful revolution against gloominess. The very large and unique pieces – including some of her later works produced from the 1990s – sell for over €100,000. Her best-ever auction result was generated by a giant Nana (270 cm) in painted polyester which fetched $1m (nearly €780,000) at Sotheby’s in New-York during the sale of the Vanthohournot Collection on 14 November 2006. Two years before this record, a Nana of the same dimensions fetched €360,000 in Paris (Sotheby’s, 18 July 2004 La vie en rose – La danseuse rose).

ndsp 2The price range for the Nanas is very broad because Niki made them in various different sizes and sometimes produced limited editions of the same piece. For a small Nana from the 1960s (less than 30 cm), one would expect to pay between €15,000 and €30,000. Indeed, a Mini nana acrobate of 20 cm doubled its price estimate in Paris last month when it sold for €26,000. With strong demand for her work already developing during her lifetime, Niki de Saint-Phalle decided to make her work available to a broader public by producing prints and small porcelain Nanas edited in 200 copies, some of which can be acquired at auctions for around €3,000 (one such piece recently fetched €2,800 at Venator & Hanstein in Cologne).

The price index for her sculpture-furniture is also regaining momentum. On 27 May 2009, a sculpture of a man reading a newspaper on a bench watched by an imaginary animal entitled Le Banc (1 of 3 copies) fetched €460,000, substantially more than its estimated value. The fact that the piece was presented at Christie’s sale of a collection of pieces by François-X. & Claude LALANNE – hybrid works on the cusp of art and design – undoubtedly contributed to the result: the high number of furniture-sculpture pieces at the sale and the good results for the Lalanne works was the perfect context for the sale of the Saint-Phalle work.

Copyright@Artprice.com

**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.

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Surprises – artmarketblog.com

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Surprises – artmarketblog.com

Alexander Calder Ebony Sticks in Semi-Circle 1934 $3,498,500 Sotheby’s New York May 12, 2009

Alexander Calder Ebony Sticks in Semi-Circle 1934 $3,498,500 Sotheby’s New York May 12, 2009

I always find it interesting to look at the lots from a particular auction that achieved prices well in excess of expectations because I find you can tell a lot about market trends and the state of the market for particular types of work from this information. The recent May contemporary art auctions were especially important because of the impact that the global financial crisis and subsequent art market correction has had on the market for contemporary art. It is immediately evident from the results that buyers are paying less for works of art and spending less on average on works of art but this comes as no surprise as the market begins to adjust to the new reality of the market for art. Now that the market is showing signs of stability there is a new benchmark beginning to develop that we can use to track trends, assess auction results and determine what direction the art market is heading. I don’t think that the art market has quite finished finding it’s feet but judging by the recent auctions we are not far off.

Looking at the lots that exceeded expectations from the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening and Day sales that took place on the 12th and 13th of May can tell us several things about the market for contemporary art. First of all, buyers still have confidence in the work of the worlds top contemporary artists and are willing to pay good money for quality works by these artists within reason. Works valued up to the US$1,000,000 mark seem to be very popular at the moment with healthy competition for works and buyers appearing to be quite comfortable purchasing at this price range. Seven of the eight highest achieving works from Sotheby’s evening sale of more expensive works had high estimates under $1,000,000. Even more popular are original works of art with estimates up to the $100,000 with competition for the best works by the big names producing some great results. Seven of the eight highest achieving works (hammer price compared to estimate) from Sotheby’s day sale of lower priced works had high estimates under US$100,000. As you can see from the results below there was far more competition for less expensive works (under $100,000 especially) from Sotheby’s day sale than there was for more expensive works from the evening sale. It is also pleasing to see that works by up and coming contemporary artists are also seeing plenty of action provided that they are under the $100,000 mark.

Surprise Results from Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auctions:

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction May 12

Lot 4: Andy Warhol ‘Kellogg’s Cornflakes [Los Angeles Type]
sinkscreen on plywood
Estimate: $200,000-$300,000
Hammer Price: $400,000

Lot 5: Dan Colen ‘Untitled (Blow Me)’
oil on canvas
Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000
Hammer Price: $320,000

Lot 15: Alexander Calder ‘Ebony Sticks In Semi-Circle’
wood, steel and string standing mobile
Estimate: $1,000,000 – $1,500,000
Hammer Price: $3,050,000

Lot 25: Gerhard Richter ‘Mirror Painting (Blood Red)’
pigment on glass
Estimate: $600,000 – $800,000
Hammer Price: $1,100,000

Lot 35: Richard Prince ‘Can You Imagine’
acrylic and silkscreen on canvas
Estimate: $600,000 – $800,000
Hammer Price: $1,150,000

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction May 13

Lot 104: Alexander Calder ‘Untitled’
painted metal and wire standing mobile
Estimate: $150,000 – $200,000
Hammer Price: $270,000

Lot 111: David Hockney ‘Aubergine’
pastel and colored pencil on paper
Estimate: $15,000-$20,000
Hammer Price: $39,000

Lot 119: Philip Guston ‘Untitled’
ink on paper
Estimate: $200,000 – $300,000
Hammer Price: $340,000

Lot 131: Alex Katz ‘Folding Chair’
oil on canvas
Estimate: $60,000-$80,000
Hammer Price: $120,000

Lot 158: Lucio Fontana ‘Concetto Spaziale Attese’
waterpaint on canvas
Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000
Hammer Price: $220,000

Lot 162: Robert Mangold ‘Plane Figure Study A (Double Panel) Study
acrylic and black pencil on canvas
Estimate: $150,000 – $200,000
Hammer Price: $250,000

Lot 173: Lee Ufan ‘From Line, No. 78154’
pigment suspended in glue, on canvas
Estimate: $50,000-$70,000
Hammer Price: $100,000

Lot 176: Elsworth Kelly ‘Light Green Panel’
painted aluminium
Estimate: $70,000 – $90,000
Hammer Price: $130,000

Lot 185: Andy Warhol ‘Untitled (Diamond Dust Shoes)’
acrylic and silkscreen on canvas
Estimate: $80,000 – $120,000
Hammer Price: $180,000

Lot 194: Andy Warhol ‘Camouflage’
silkscreen on paper
Estimate: $12,000 – $18,000
Hammer Price: $32,000

Lot 198: Andy Warhol ‘Look Years Younger’
graphite on sketchbook paper
Estimate: $10,000 – $15,000
Hammer Price: $34,000

Lot 203: Andy Warhol ‘Detail of the Last Supper’
synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas
Estimate: $80,000-$120,000
Hammer Price: $180,000

Lot 209: Tom Wesselmann ‘Upside Down Blue Nude #2’
oil on canvas
Estimate: $220,000-$280,000
Hammer Price: $340,000

Lot 230: Neil Jenney ‘Saw and Sawed’
acrylic and graphite on canvas in artist’s frame
Estimate: $180,000-$250,000
Hammer Price: $420,000

Lot 305: Jr ‘Favela’
chromogenic print on metallic paper mounted on aluminum
Estimate: $10,000-$12,000
Hammer Price: $20,000

Lot 339: Damien Hirst ‘N-T Boc-L-Alanine N-Hydro Ester’
household gloss on canvas
Estimate: $20,000-$30,000
Hammer Price: $42,000

Lot 364: Makoto Saito ‘Portrait of Laurence (Recognition)’
acrylic and oil ink on canvas mounted on wood
Estimate: $150,000-$200,000
Hammer Price: $280,000

Lot 400: William Kentridge ‘Anamorphic Drawing’
charcoal on paper in Plexiglas box, stainless steel cylinder on steel support
Estimate: $15,000-$20,000
Hammer Price: $26,000

Lot 428: John Currin ‘The Living Room’
ink and watercolor on paper
Estimate: $20,000-$30,000
Hammer Price:$60,000

Lot 450: Barbara Kruger ‘Untitled (Open Wide)’
photographic silkscreen ink on vinyl
Estimate: $50,000-$70,000
Hammer Price: $120,000

Lot 451: Barbara Kruger ‘Untitled (We Are Transformed Into Special Effects)’
unique photographic montage in red painted artist’s frame
Estimate: $60,000-$80,000
Hammer Price: $110,000

**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.