Danger of Careless Art Market Talk – artmarketblog.com

Danger of Careless Art Market Talk – artmarketblog.com

A Sotheby’s auction here in Australia on the 26th of August did not go as well as was anticipated with just less than half of the works selling and a final sales figure of AUD$5.77 million without buyers premium against an estimate of $9-$12 million. According to an article in the Australian newspaper, Georgina Pemberton, Sotheby’s head of paintings, described last night’s result as “a reflection of our economic climate and we are now going through a correction in the art market” After making this comment to the Australian newspaper, Georgina then went on to make the following comment regarding the auction to Bloomberg news “Some of the collectors are becoming more conservative, but overall the art market is still very strong”. Hmmm, seems like someone doesn’t know whether they are coming or going.

Other than the fact that these two statements contradict themselves, stating that the market is currently experiencing a correction that is seemingly based on this one sale is rather silly. A market correction is generally understood to mean a drop of between 10% and 20% in a financial market over a short period of time which would require a general market downward trend. Taking into consideration that there has been very little indication that the market is losing strength other than the Sotheby’s auction and that there are no figures relating to the definition of a market correction to back this statement up, to state that the market is experiencing a correction is very premature and at this point, incorrect.

Further evidence that the market is not in a correction came from an auction that took place the next evening by Bonhams and Goodman which experienced a far different result to Sothebys. According to the Bonhams and Goodman website “Record numbers had inspected the paintings at viewings in Sydney and Melbourne, with over 1500 people attending the auction venues, 30% up on the numbers for April. On auction night 250 people packed the Prahran saleroom to see Masterpieces of Australian Art from The Julian & Miriam Sterling Collection sell for $1,976,000 (including buyer’s premium), well over the lower estimate published in the catalogue. The sale of the Australian Fine Art catalogue contributed another $3 million to the result. ” Geoffrey Smith, Director & National Head of Art at Bonhams and Goodman went on to comment that “It was our most successful sale ever.” In total $4.9 million of art was sold against a lower estimate of $3.6 million although interestingly, only 49% of works sold which was the same percentage of works that sold at the Sotheby’s auction. What these results do show is that people are paying more money for the best works and that, although the sale rates may give the appearance of a correction, an proper analysis of the whole market points to more of a market transformation (ie. a change in buying trends and habits as opposed to a down-turn)

Another telling indication that the problem may be with Sotheby’s and not the market is the fact that only around 150 reportedly turned up at the Sotheby’s auction compared with 250 at the Bonhams and Goodman auction. With several more important art auction scheduled in Australia over the coming weeks it will be interesting to see what the results will be.

**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

Damien Hirst Screws Himself – artmarketblog.com

Damien Hirst Screws Himself – artmarketblog.com

On the 15th and 16th of September a total of 223 previously unsold works by Damien Hirst will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s. The collection consists mainly of different versions of Hirst’s most iconic concepts including versions of his spot paintings, spin paintings, butterfly paintings, medicine cabinets, formaldehyde works and photo realist paintings.

In continuation from my previous post on this auction I have conducted some further research on Damien Hirst and the market for his work which resulted in some rather interesting results. The online art auction result database Artprice.com lists a total of 1013 Damien Hirst works sold at auction since 1992, 169 of which were auctioned in 2007 which means that the Sotheby’s auction of 223 Damien Hirst works will account for more than a years worth of auction results. Comparatively, Jeff Koons, who is 10 years Damien’s senior, only has 524 auction recorded auction results since 1991.

The fact that Hirst has made the decision to sell at auction partly because the commission rates charged by an auction house are lower than those charged by most galleries suggests that his motivation is mostly, if not purely, financial. Although the demand for Hirst’s work is very high there are already plenty of works on the market due to the huge number of works that Hirst produces. This makes me wonder how many people will be buying from this auction purely because of the nature of the sale as opposed to the quality, price or attraction of the work on offer. I would say probably lots. If there are lots of people buying purely as a result of the nature of the sale then this could result in people buying works from this auction at inflated prices created by a false perception of scarcity and immediacy created by Sothebys when in fact there are already plenty of Hirst works available for sale elsewhere.

There are basically two different outcomes for this auction both of which I perceive as being potentially detrimental to Hirst’s career. Firstly, a successful sale where a majority of the works are sold for above estimate will result in a glut of Damien Hirst works being thrust onto the market which could well result in the demand and desirability Hirst’s work to drop due to the availability of works increasing dramatically. The effect that the sale of these works will have on the market for Hirst’s work depends on how many people are purchasing with the intention of on-selling within a short period of time. Scenario number two is that the sale goes terribly which would of course result in Hirst’s reputation and value dropping.

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

Oz Artist Resale Royalty Boost – artmarketblog.com

Oz Artist Resale Royalty Boost – artmarketblog.com

For those who regular readers of my blog, you will be aware that I am an Australian and that I am a strong supporter of the implementation of an artist’s resale right in Australia. Just because the current Australian government made the decision to introduce a resale royalty scheme does not mean that the whole resale royalty saga is over. All that the Australian government has done is made the promise to implement a resale royalty, they have not said when it will be implemented or what model will be implemented. There are many different resale royalty model options that the government could choose to implement some of which are downright ridiculous and potentially ineffective.

On Friday an announcement was made that will be signal a major boost to the Australian art world with a press release being made public announcing that Joanna Cave, CEO of the UK’s primary copyright and collecting society for artists and visual creators DACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society), will be moving to Australian in January 2009. Joanna will be moving to Australia to take up the position of CEO of Australia’s copyright and collecting society for artists and visual creators and sister society of DACS, Viscopy. What makes this announcement so exciting is that Joanna Cave is probably the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced person on the resale right for visual artists having successfully implemented the resale right in the UK. Now that such an influential person will be coming to Australia there is a much better chance that the resale right model that is implemented will be the most effective and managable model. There is also now a much better chance that the resale right will be implemented smoothly, effectively and with the smallest amount of disruption due to the experience, knowledge and wisdom of Joanna cave.

See the press release from DACS below.

Design and Artists Copyright Society

News release

22 August 2008


DACS’ Board of Directors today announced the resignation of Chief Executive Joanna Cave after eight years of dynamic leadership.

During that time, DACS (the Design and Artists Copyright Society) has changed in both size and profile, and now enjoys a strong reputation among artists whilst generating almost £9 million annually through its three rights management services.

Most recently, Joanna led the campaign for the Artist’s Resale Right in the UK – against fierce opposition in some quarters – which culminated in the government introducing legislation that delivers genuine benefit to artists without harming the market for art.

Since 2006, DACS has collected £6.3 million in resale royalties for over 1500 artists and DACS’ service is recognised as the best in the world.

DACS Chair Andrew Potter says: ‘Many thousands of artists, designers and photographers have every reason to be grateful to Joanna for her hard-won achievements on their behalf. She leaves DACS in great shape, doing a brilliant job on behalf of its members. I, the Board and everyone at DACS will miss her greatly, both professionally and personally. Everyone who works with Jo holds her in the highest regard.’

It is the success of the UK Resale Right campaign that has led Joanna to her next challenge, spearheading the campaign for the Artist’s Resale Right in Australia and New Zealand.

Michael Keighery, Chair of DACS’s equivalent organisation, VISCOPY, in Sydney, says: ‘Jo has been a tireless advocate for artists in the UK and on the international stage. Under her leadership Australian and New Zealand artists can look forward to VISCOPY championing their rights with great commitment and energy.’

Joanna says: ‘It’s a privilege to have been part of the DACS success story and leaving after eight happy years is going to be a wrench. But I am excited about the opportunity to work on behalf of artists in Australia and New Zealand. The Artist’s Resale Right is hugely important not least for indigenous artists, many of whom continue to be poorly rewarded for their work, despite its current popularity throughout the world’.

Joanna Cave will take up her new post in Australia in January 2009. DACS has commenced its search for her successor. Details of the vacancy will be available on http://www.dacs.org.uk.

For further information, please call Joanne Milmoe on 020 7336 8811.

**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

Indian Art Fair and Summit 08 – artmarketblog.com

Indian Art Fair and Summit 08 – artmarketblog.com

Today marks the start of the Indian Art Summit, India’s modern and contemporary art fair, which is taking place from the 22nd to the 24th of August. According to the Indian Art Summit website (http://www.indiaartsummit.com) the “India Art Summit™ 2008 has received an overwhelming response with over 90 applications from galleries and art businesses. The art fair will house 34 of the best exhibitiors of Indian art representing over 12 regions from India & overseas. The India Art Summit™ will therefore showcase the most diverse range of modern and contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography, mix media, prints, drawings and video art by veterans and upcoming artists from across the country. The 3 days in August will see the largest congregation of art collectors, a new wave of investors and art lovers from different geographies.”

It is no secret that the market for contemporary Indian art is red hot but you may be surprised to learn that an Australian gallery was partly responsible for one of the first major international touring shows of contemporary Indian. The exhibition, titled “Edge of desire: recent art in India”, was a joint initiative of the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Asia Society in New York that, according to the exhibition catalogue, captured “the breadth and depth of practice in India and demonstrated why Indian art today plays such a vital role in the current international art scene. The first stop for the traveling exhibition was the Art Gallery of Western Australia from the 25 Sept 2004 – 9 January 2005 after which the exhibition moved to the United States where it was shown at the Asia Society and Museum from March 1 – June 5, 2005 and then the Queens Museum of Art from February 27 – June 5, 2005.

The fact that Australian’s have shown such an interest in Indian art is not that surprising when you consider between similarities between Australia’s beloved Aboriginal art and Indian art. Both cultures, for instance, have extremely old and unique visual and pictoral traditions that are key components in the visual representation and expression of various components of their culture with a particular focus on spiritual and religious beliefs. Both cultures have also experienced, and continue to experience, a sort of identity crisis at the heart of which is a struggle to maintain and preserve their traditions in a rapidly developing and progressing world. This struggle between tradition and contemporary society is often played out on canvas with many Australian Aboriginal and Indian artists having adapted the traditional visual representation of their social values, spiritual beliefs and cultural practices to the modern mediums of video, photography and installation. Many of Australia’s indigenous artists also use art as an expression of the trials and tribulations that a relatively unchanged ancient culture have faced, and continue to face, in a rapidly changing environment – just as many contemporary Indian artists do.

As an art collector and investor whose latest purchase was a print by the fantastic Indian artist Manjunath Kamath, I can tell you now that I will be continuing to expand my collection of contemporary Indian for as long as contemporary Indian artists continue to produce such amazing work.

**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

Hirst Art Auction Reality Part 1 – artmarketblog.com

Hirst Art Auction Reality Part 1 – artmarketblog.com

The upcoming auction of new works by Damien Hirst to be conducted by Sotheby’s (see here) has generated a huge amount of hype that is sure to result in a packed saleroom and at least a few major results. According to the Sotheby’s website the auction, which has been given the rather romantic title “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever”, is “a major auction of works by Damien Hirst, [that] will include an important series of new pieces which have been created over the past two years, including monumental formaldehyde sculptures; paintings which expand on the artist’s classic themes such as butterflies, cancer cells and pills; exquisite new cabinets and insightful preparatory drawings.”

Ok, now that all that is out of the way, it is time for a reality check. I have identified many potential problems with this auction, the first being the fact that versions of many of the works being offered at the auction have already been sold at auction. It is no secret that Hirst gets as much mileage from each “theme” as he can, producing multiple versions of many of his works such as the spin paintings and butterfly paintings, which presents a conundrum for those planning on purchasing a version of such a work from the auction. Because of the hype surrounding the sale of these works it is quite likely that high prices will be paid for the works being auctioned. The conundrum is, is it worth paying more for one of the works from this auction considering that it is quite likely that a very similar work will be available for sale at a lower price elsewhere? . As far as I can see the answer is no because once the hype is over the buyers are potentially going to be left with a work of art similar to other works on the market except for the fact that they paid more for theirs.  And personally, I don’t see the fact that these works were part of a “landmark” auction as being enough to justify a higher value. For those of you thinking that people won’t pay more for a work of art just because it is being sold at a landmark auction event or because they don’t want the other ten people bidding for the work to have it, think again

Savvy investors and collectors would be better off purchasing a version of the works being offered at the Sotheby’s auction from elsewhere before the auction takes place to take advantage of the increase in price that the auction is likely to generate for Hirst’s work. Be warned though, that any price increase as a result of the auction may only last for a short period of time so to take advantage of the price increase may require any works purchased to be sold relatively soon after purchase. To be continued…


Beautiful Helios Hysteria Intense Painting
(with Extra Inner Beauty) (lot 227, Afternoon Sale)
household gloss on canvas
diameter: 45.7cm.
executed in 2008
estimate: £ 60,000-80,000
€ 76,000-102,000
US$ 119,000-158,000

**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

Affordable Investment Art 12 – artmarketblog.com

Affordable Investment Art August 19 – artmarketblog.com

In 2007 Britain’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) launched a new project called All Tomorrow’s Pictures in conjunction Sony Ericsson which involves a number of high profile artists using the state-of-the-art Cyber-shot TM mobile phone manufactured by Sony Ericsson to produce an image which has been made available to purchase as a limited edition print. The All Tomorrow’s Pictures project was launched as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Institute of Contemporary Art which was first established in 1947 by a group of artists, poets and writers as a meeting point for exploration between artists and audiences. According to the ICA website: “since its establishment, it (the ICA) has been at the centre of many of the most significant artistic and cultural developments in the past 60 years. It has also introduced numerous artists, performers, writers and other cultural figures to a wider audience, both nationally and internationally.”

In total, 60 artists contributed images to the All Tomorrow’s Pictures 59 of whom were high profile artists invited by the ICA with the 50th artist selected from submissions by the public through an online competition. Each artist was invited to produce a single image or series of images inspired by the theme of ‘Tomorrow’ – using the Sony Ericsson K800i – a state-of-the-art Cyber-shot TM mobile phone. The ICA describes the project as a “pioneering venture [that] aims to highlight the creative potential of fusing art and technology and present a searing vision of the future as imagined through the eyes of some of our most influential and creative talent”. Highly desirable artists such as Idris Khan, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Sue Webster and Tim Noble, Tracey Emin and many others created works for the project each of which were produced in a limited edition of ten which range in price from 250 pounds to 350 pounds.

This unique project has resulted in some fantastic images, many of which have sold out, by a range of awesome artists that have been released as a very limited edition of affordable and good sized (A3) prints that can only be described as extremely good value for money. To see the full range of prints available go here:


image: Idris Khan, A Memory of Lampposts
A3 print on inkjet photo satin paper. Printed with long term pigmented inks.

**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

2008 Aboriginal Art Awards – artmarketblog.com

2008 Aboriginal Art Awards – artmarketblog.com

Well, today is my last day in the extremely beautiful Darwin which, as well as being the capital city of Australia’s Northern Territory, is the centre of the world renowned Australian Aboriginal art movement. Last night at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the winners of the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award were announced during an outdoor celebration which took place in a spectacular location on the edge looking out onto the water which framed a brief but mesmerising Darwin sunset. The Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award is a really big deal for the Australian art market as well as for Australia’s Indigenous artists many of whom live in third world conditions. A first price of $40,000 is a lot of money in anyone’s books but for someone living in a remote desert community where many of the residents still live a very traditional lifestyle that involves periods of “going bush” (periods of living out in the bush as the Aboriginal did prior to the occupation of their country by white people). Winning a Telstra Art Award pretty much guarantees that the value of that artist’s work will be increase in value and desirability so every one who is anyone in the Australian art market has their radar tuned into the awards. If you are wondering how important the Australian Aboriginal Art movement is to the art world then consider that Australian Aboriginal culture can claim to be the oldest continuous living culture on the planet (more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Aboriginal_art

Although I had already spent three days wondering around the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair I was saving my money for the last day of the fair which was also the day after the announcement of the winners of the Aboriginal art awards. The reason that I was saving my money was that many of the artists whose work had been entered into the award was available at the fair meaning that the likelihood of me picking up a work by a winner of an award at the fair before the price of that artist’s works reflected the accolade. Sure enough, works by all of the artists who won one of the four awards on offer were available to be purchased from one of the art centres who were represented at the Darwin Art Fair. My recent interest in some of the amazing prints being produced by Aboriginal artists had me particularly excited about finding out who the winner of the works on paper section of the awards would be. To my delight, the winner was a world renowned Torres Strait islander artist by the name of Dennis Nona who also won the overall award last year. Having seen a Dennis Nona print available for sale at the Darwin Art Fair the previous day I knew that this was the work I would be spending my money on, if it was still available. Luckily for me the one and only Dennis Nona print for sale at the fair was still available when I arrived at the fair and was in my possession a short time later. Suffice to say I was extremely pleased with what is a beautiful work of art and a great investment.

According to the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory website, “The $4,000 Telstra Works on Paper, was awarded to Dennis Nona from Badu Island, Torres Strait, Queensland, for his etching on paper, Dugam. Winner of last year’s $40,000 Telstra Award for his 3.5m bronze crocodile Ubirikubiri, Dennis is widely acknowledged as an important Torres Strait Islander artist. His entry in this year’s award is named after the star that is visible in the early morning sky for about two weeks during August and September. Its presence tells the Torres Strait Islanders that it is the time to harvest the wild yams, kutai, gabau and saurr”. Dennis’s work is is held in most major Australian art institutions and in a number of important overseas collections including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Victoria and Albert Museum London, British Museum, London and Cambridge University Museum, UK.

To see more info on the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award check out these links:


Image one: Winner of the 2008 Telstra Art Award, Makinti Napanangka

Image two: Dennis Nona – Dugam, Etching on paper

**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

Investing in Print Makers – artmarketblog.com

Investing in Print Makers – artmarketblog.com

While browsing the array of amazing works of art on offer at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair I came across some prints by a range of Aboriginal artists from the Torres Strait Island. The Torres Strait Island artists are particularly well known for their etchings and screen prints which are extremely appealing and highly sought after. Having spent most of my time looking at paintings I decided to take another walk around the fair and focus on the print work available as opposed to the myriad of paintings hanging from every available space. To my surprise I found many of the prints that were available to be even more appealing than most of the paintings that I had seen and better value to boot.

For the same price as a mediocre painting by a relatively unknown artist I could pick up three awesome limited edition prints by some of the most desirable Aboriginal print makers. What sparked my interest even more was the fact that most of the prints were by artists who are known first and foremost as print markers as opposed to, say, painters that transfer their images to prints. By purchasing a limited edition print by an artist who is best known for their print work I am making a much better investment than if I was to purchase a work by a painter who produced prints. The reason for this is that the primary medium that an artist works with is always going to be more desirable than a secondary medium which printmaking often is. Printmaking is often seen as being a lesser form of art than printmaking because most artists use printmaking as a secondary source of income but there are still plenty of artists out there who are primarily print markers. By purchasing works by such print markers you are not only making a good investment but you are able to purchase much better quality works for much less money.

You can see some of the Torres Strait Islander artist’s print work here:

**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

Celebrity Art Collectors Revealed – artmarketblog.com

Celebrity Art Collectors Revealed – artmarketblog.com

Having a celebrity purchase one of their works is a sure fire way for the value of an artist’s work to skyrocket, so keeping an eye on which artists celebrities are purchasing works by is definitely worth the time. Over the years I have received heaps of notifications and tips on purchases of art by celebrities so I thought that I would go through my archives and make a list of some of the celebrities and the artist’s whose work they have purchased. I posted a list of celebrity art collectors a while ago but have since received many more tips so this is the updated list.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the artists these celebrities collect or have purchased works by but should give you an idea of the sort of work they are interested in.

Denise Rich – Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Julian Schnabel

Michael Jordan – Faith Ringgold

Oprah Winfrey – Bernard Hoyes, Faith Ringgold

Denzel Washington – Faith Ringgold

Sylvestor Stallone – Bouguereau,Francis Bacon, Anselm Kiefer

Harrison Ford – Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard

Richard Gere – Joel Peter Witkin, Henri Cartier-Bresson

Joan Rivers – J.W. Godward

Kirk Douglas – Braque, Chaim Soutine, Maurice de Vlaminck, Marc Chagall, Edouard Vuillard, Piet Mondrian, Balthus, Alexej Jawlensky,

Grant Hill – Elizabeth Catlett, Edward Jackson

Victoria Beckham – Damien Hirst

Charlton Heston – Andrew Wyeth

Steve Martin – Picasso, Edward Hopper, Willem de Kooning, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cy Twombly, Helen Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein, Picasso, Franz Kline

Steven Spielberg – Norman Rockwell

Elton John – Damien Hirst, Diane Arbus, Lucas Samaras, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Berenice Abbott, Man Ray, Helmut Newton and Alfred Stieglitz. Sam Taylor-Wood, Picasso, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nan Goldin, Matisse

Jack Nicholson – Jack Vettriano, Cezanne, Tamara de Lempicka

Robbie Coltrane – Jack Vettriano

Tim Rice – Jack Vettriano

Gianni Versace – Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Madonna – Frida Kahlo, Damien Hirst, Ferdinand Leger, Tamara de Lempicka and Picasso

Andrew Lloyd Webber – Pre-Raphaelites, J.W. Godward

Jane Fonda – Andy Warhol

Hugh Grant – Andy Warhol

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt – Banksy

Marc Jacobs – Mike Kelly, Karen Kilimnik, John Currins, Ed Ruscha, Richard Prince

Kevin Spacey – Jason Benjamin

Elizabeth Taylor – Van Gogh

Lionel Ritchie – Sidney Nolan

Eric Clapton – Carlos Rolon, Lee Quinones

David Bowie – Balthus, Rubens, Tintoretto, Graham Sutherland and Stanley Spencer

Robbie Williams – Andy Warhol

Kylie Minogue – Tim Noble and Sue Webster

Tommy Steele – L. S. Lowry, Pre-Raphaelites

The Galaghers – Peter Blake

Dennis Hopper – Ed Ruscha, Marcel Duchamp, Jean-Michel Basquiat

**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

Don’t Judge an Art Auction by the Catalogue Cover – artmarketblog.com

Don’t Judge an Art Auction by the Catalogue Cover – artmarketblog.com

Have you ever wondered how the major auction houses manage to keep coming up with such fantastic works of art to include in their auctions?. If you haven’t then you should because the origin of that super duper painting on the front cover of the latest auction catalogue may not have come from where you think it came from. Most people assume that every work of art sold at an auction is there because a member of the public has decided that it is a good time to sell. Not so. Most people also assume that just because an auction house has plenty of fantastic works to sell that they are in a good position and performing well. Again, not so. You see, auction houses don’t just sit back and watch the blockbuster works of art fall into their laps. In fact, I am sure that you would be extremely surprised at how much work an auction has to do to secure a work that they want to include in their auction. Auction house staff are constantly making house calls and holding appraisal days in the hope of finding that long lost Rembrandt that grandma forgot she stored under the bed for safety during the war.

Even if an auction house does “find” an extremely valuable work of art there is no guarantee that they will be the ones who are trusted with it’s sale. The mere rumor of the location a valuable work of art is enough to send the auction houses into a frenzy and into the beginning of a bargaining process that can see the owner of said work of art being offered all sorts of guarantees that they will receive a certain amount for their work of art if they sell at a particular auction house. A major work of art can do wonders for the popularity and media coverage of an auction which means that an auction house will do almost anything to convince the owner of a significant artwork to sell through their auction house.

Although the auction houses do an incredible amount of leg work in an effort to have the best works for their auction there is no guarantee that they will actually have a work of art worthy of gracing the front cover of the catalogue come to them from a member of the public. Therefore, it is common practice for an auction house to call on prominent art dealers to either find works for them or to provide works to the auction house to sell. That’s right, an auction house will actually go to an art dealer to get a work that is good enough to be the major draw-card of the auction if they can’t locate one elsewhere. Obtaining works from dealers is not only a more expensive exercise for the auction houses as they usually have to provide a minimum price guarantee or a reduction in sellers premium but it also provides a false impression of the health of the art market. The successful sale of a major work of art provides a good impression of the art market and the auction house and implies that a member of the public has made a significant profit (why else would someone sell a work if not to make a profit) from the sale when in fact this may not be the case at all. Just goes to show that you can’t judge an auction catalogue by it’s cover or an art market by it’s sales.

**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

Aboriginal Art Fair and Art Award 08 – artmarketblog.com

Aboriginal Art Fair and Art Award 08 – artmarketblog.com

Darwin is located at the top of the country where the red dot is

On Wednesday the 13th of August I am heading to Darwin, which is the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, for the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair as well as the 25th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award.  The Australian Aboriginal Art movement is undoubtedly one of the most important artistic movements to have ever existed and is currently worth an estimated AUS$100 million dollars annually which makes these two events all the more exciting.

For those of you who are not Australian, the City of Darwin is located in the top end of the Northern Territory and is bounded by the Beagle Gulf (the Timor Sea) in the north and the west. The Northern Territory is Australia’s real outback and, because of the remoteness and rurality of much of it’s land, has allowed many of the Aboriginal inhabitants to live a more traditional lifestyle. A majority of the Aboriginal artists whose work you see for sale and in museums and galleries reside in the Northern Territory making this part of Australia the centre for Aboriginal art.

The Darwin Art Fair will take place on the 14th to 16th of August and is Organised by Maningrida Arts and Culture (http://www.maningrida.com) and only presents Indigenous art produced through Community based Arts Centres. According to the Darwin Art Fair website (http://www.darwinaboriginalartfair.com.au/index.php), “Nineteen arts centres from Arnhem Land, Kimberley Region, Central Australia and Torres Strait Islands will present a wide range of artists and art forms, offering a unique opportunity to discover and enjoy the diversity of styles and artistic expressions present in these regions. Paintings on canvas, bark paintings, timber and metal sculptures, limited edition prints, didjeridus, fibre art and jewelry will be on display at the Fair.”
The Telstra Aborginal Art Award, which I will also be attending, is put on by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and begins on Friday the 15th of August with a big party where the winners of the prizes for the four different categories are announced. The categories are:

* the Telstra General Painting Award
* the Telstra Bark Painting Award
* the Telstra Work on Paper Award
* the Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award (sponsored by Telstra)

According to the website of the Telstra Art Award, “the Award was established in 1984 as the National Aboriginal Art Award by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. The aim of the Award is to recognise the important contribution made by Indigenous artists and to promote appreciation and understanding of the quality and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art from regional and urban based Indigenous artists throughout Australia, working in traditional and contemporary media. The Award attracts a range of Indigenous artists from all parts of the country and around 100 works are selected each year from up to 400 entries. The diversity and style of work submitted each year reflects the changing face of contemporary Aboriginal art practice. The non-acquisitive Telstra Award of $40,000 is awarded to the work considered by judges to be the most outstanding work in the exhibition. Additional prizes of $4,000 each are awarded in four media categories.

For more information visit the sites below:
Info on the Northern Territory

Info on Telstra Aboriginal Art Award:

Info on the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair:

**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 Saville Sister Act – artmarketblog.com

The Saville Sister Act – artmarketblog.com

The name Jenny Saville may not be as well known as several of her other former YBA counterparts such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin due perhaps to Saville’s less in-your-face approach and her dedication to the more traditional practice of figurative painting. Saville’s work has, however, not gone un-noticed. Proof of this came on the 1st of July when a new auction record was set for Saville with a self portrait that sold for £505,250 (US$1,008,984) on an estimate of £140,000-180,000 (274,995 – 353,565 US$). There is no doubt that the price paid for the self portrait, which reminds me of Freud’s “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping”, is entirely justified as it is an extremely well executed work by a highly talented artist. Although Jenny Saville is a brilliant artist and a breath of fresh air in a market saturated with superficial attention seekers, I do believe that she has not utilised her talents as well she could have. Sticking to a very narrow medium and subject has somewhat limited the marketability and desirability of Saville’s work especially when she has to compete with the likes of Lucien Freud. I do admire the dedication and perseverance that the artist has shown to the painterly pursuits but if she is going to reach her potential in an ever evolving art market she will have to step outside of her comfort zone. Ironically I do think that the work of Jenny Saville is a good investment for the (very) long term but in a market that is focused on the here and now this may not be enough to excite contemporary art collectors and investors.

Hot on the heels of her older sister is the much less conventional but just as talented Boo Saville. Saville the younger is also skilled with the paint brush but has chosen to take more of a risk with her subject matter and her medium which has resulted in a body of work that is interesting, unique and challenging. It is unfortunate that Boo has had to live in the shadow of her older sister but her talents are started to be given the sort of recognition that they deserve. A recent group exhibition at Trolley gallery titled “DON’T STOP ME NOW – the body beyond death” which, according to Laura Jones of Artnet included “some outstanding ballpoint-pen drawings of sort-of-beautiful skulls by Boo Saville” who was described by Jones as having “lots of intergrity”. An awesome solo show at Martin Summers Fine Art of London lightened that shadow considerably and served as further proof of the future potential of this exciting young artist. I highly recommend the work of Boo Saville as being both artistically excellent and a great investment but you had better get in soon before more people catch on to Boo’s potential.

You can see more of Boo Saville’s work here:



1. Self Portrait by Jenny Saville

2. Shi by Boo Saville

**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