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2012 in review : Artprice’s Choices.

[26/12/2012]

 

While the year 2012 is coming to an end, Artprice looks into the rear view mirror and delivers the point of view of the art market key players. Before the art market columnists, galleries and auctioneers, Artprice’s team shares its view on this year’s art market. Thierry Ehrmann, Artprice CEO, Celine Moine and Anais Delage, ArtMarketInsight editors, and Martin Bremond, Head Economist, reveal their 2012’s picks and their forecast for the year ahead.

Thierry Ehrmann – Artprice Founder and CEO

The artist who made the greatest impression on you
Richard SERRA: the only artist besides Constantin BRANCUSI to have taken on crude steel,. I’m always impressed by his work and the recent “7” Tower in Doha, a metal tower inspired by Arab Islamic architecture and a real technical tour de force. The “7” tower rises to 24 metres, making it the artist’s largest vertical sculpture to date.

The exhibition which made the greatest impression on you
The exhibition Extra large featuring monumental works from the Centre Pompidou Collection at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco. 4,000 m² devoted to the monumental works of major modern and contemporary artists: the spirituality of Joseph BEUYS, the rigour of Sol LEWITT and the energy of YAN Pei-Ming … in all their excess! Big is beautiful!

The event of the year on the art market
The world record sale for the pastel version of Edvard MUNCH‘s The Scream, which went for $107m in May at Sotheby’s in New York. It was a historic sale for two reasons: firstly because Munch dethroned the absolute king of the market – Pablo PICASSO – and also because a drawing, by achieving the coveted position of the world’s most expensive work, overturned the established hierarchy of genres.

Your forecast for 2013
The explosion of the art market on the Internet. The tragic transformation that lies before auction houses is comparable to the crisis facing the press, given the deluge of information on the web. The dematerialisation of the old economy will continue because all the players on the world art market with serious purchasing power are now online and therefore have no reason to turn up in person at an auction house.

Céline Moine – Artprice Editor

The artist who made the greatest impression on you
AI Weiwei, for the breath of fresh air he brought with his parody of Gangnam Style. He replayed the choreography of Psy while under house arrest, using the materials he happened to have at his disposal, namely a pair of handcuffs. The video was censored in Beijing a few hours after its release, but the global ricochet had already begun! Shortly after, the artist Anish KAPOOR broadcast his own version of Gangnam Style, in support of Ai Weiwei, but also of all the artists killed, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured or forced into exile because of their creations. The slogan The end of repression. Freedom of expression had the art world singing and dancing for weeks!

The exhibition which made the greatest impression on you
Labyrinth of Memory by Chiharu SHIOTA, which took over the 1,700 m² of La Sucrière in Lyon. The installation, the artist’s largest to date, utilised a dense network of 600 km of black thread (6,000 acrylic balls) imprisoning a series of sculpted white robes like so many ghostly apparitions. Labyrinth of Memory was both a technical tour de force and a work of incredible artistic beauty, an inner journey and a genuine exhibition experience.

The event of the year on the art market
The soaring prices of Gerhard RICHTER, who has become the most expensive living artist. While his major retrospective Panorama was travelling throughout Europe in celebration of his 80th birthday, his approval rating soared at auctions. First there was his canvas Kerze (Candle), which reached £9.3 m (or $14.6 m) on 14 October 2011 (Christie’s). The artist responded to the announcement of such a record by saying, “It’s beyond understanding. It’s as absurd as the banking crisis.” And yet this new record would be beaten nine times in the following months. By way of comparison: Pablo Picasso posted three sales this year of over $15 million, while Gerhard Richter made six over the same period!

Your forecast for 2013
Two phenomena will develop in tandem. The first concerns virtual alternatives, which are increasingly sophisticated and prevalent on the art market scene. Physical trade fairs, for example, are developing tools for virtual tours in 3D and even previews before the official opening.
Faced with the dematerialisation and globalisation of the market, another phenomenon concerns the increasing role of serious artists’ agents and advisers working from a truly international perspective. Globalisation has not evened out the market but rather expanded the field of possibilities. So it is important to get good advice, especially in order not to fall into the mainstream, the decorative trend or speculative frenzy. Although first and foremost a question of aesthetic sensitivity, the act of collection may become increasingly hard-headed.

Martin Bremond: Head Economist/Asia-Pacific Business Development Manager(Hong Kong)

The artist who made the greatest impression on you
The Flemish sculptor representing Belgium at the 2013 Venice Biennial took on a new dimension in the art market when two of her works sold for over $280,000. At the end of this year, Berlinde DE BRUYCKERE is having her first solo exhibition in China, at the Continua Gallery in Beijing.
Collected and presented in the Antoine de Galbert collection (twice in 2011), the Belgian artist is also represented by the Hauser & Wirth and Yvon Lambert galleries, as well as by Continua.

The exhibition that made the greatest impression on you
When surrounded by the visual profusion of an art fair, it is sometimes very hard for the brain and eye to take a rest. During the first fortnight in October, between London and Paris, Frieze and FIAC and various subsidiary fairs, it’s quite usual for players in the art market to see over a thousand works of art in less than ten days. But in the heart of the Frieze Masters in London, the Helly Nahmad gallery stand subtly mingled three giant mobiles by Alexander CALDER, twirling to the sound of a tango, with two Joan MIROs. Within a few square metres, the London gallery created a real success: something that most major museums failed to do this year.

The event of the year on the art market
Surprise and astonishment at the end of this year: after some disastrous sales of Impressionist and modern art, the two auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s were expecting the worst. The result, two of their finest sales of contemporary and post-war art for both houses, has now generated the confidence needed to keep collectors optimistic for the coming months, given a downturn that is by no means over.

Your forecast for 2013
With the art market now turning to the East, I feel very excited by the first Art Basel in Hong Kong and the energy of Asian fairs, with their positioning around the Hong Kong fair – like Art Stage Singapore, now established in south-west Asia, and Art Beijing with its distinctly Chinese focus.

Anaïs Delage – Artprice Editor

The artist who made the greatest impression on you
Without a doubt the discovery of sculptures/installations of the Korean monumental artist Do Ho SUH. On the one hand, because they superbly challenge conventional notions of scale, and create a formidable in-your-face interaction with the viewer. On the other, because these confrontations brilliantly raise universal questions related to identity, real/imaginary space, and the effect of mass.

The exhibition which made the greatest impression on you
Edward HOPPER at the Grand Palais for the pleasure of discovering these masterpieces in one place. Despite the queues, the exhibition took us on a wonderful journey through Hopper’s work. The night scenes, the moments of solitude and the distinct shadow and light that mark his paintings create an atmosphere unlike any other. You can see how he inspired the greatest filmmakers from Alfred Hitchcock to David Lynch.

The event of the year on the art market
The sale of the work Dead Troops Talk by photographer Jeff WALL for $3.2m: a 40-year career finally rewarded by the art market!

Your forecast for 2013
In addition to an art scene whose richness is increasingly acknowledged in terms of museums, private foundations, influential collectors and the booming economy, and with the recent Gagosian installation in Rio and the White Cube in Sao Paulo, Brazil could strengthen its role in the global marketplace.

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