30 under 30: painting



This summer, Artprice presents the future stars of the art market with a weekly ranking of the thirty top-selling artists under 30 in each artistic medium: today’s focus is painting.


Top 30 : painting

Rank Artist Auction result
1 Jacob KASSAY $240000
2 Flore SIGRIST $97495
3 KAO Yu $96348
4 LI Qing $80340
5 WANG Nengjun $74112
6 Tauba AUERBACH $62508
7 Agata KLECZKOWSKA $57248
8 Hiroaki KANO $48692
9 $44268
10 CHENG Yong $41152
11 $40976
12 SONG Yang $40360
13 Hayv KAHRAMAN $35000
14 Daniel WALBIDI $34965
15 Rosson CROW $32250
16 Karim EL-QURITY $31000
17 Tala MADANI $30324
18 HAN Bo $27864
19 WANG Daishan $27846
20 YANG Na $26945
21 Ayako ROKKAKU $24346
22 XU Guo $22134
23 Radi ARWINDA $20576
24 ZHOU Song $20488
25 YANG Yang $20124
26 LIU Wei $19020
27 ZHU Kai $18528
28 LI Chao $18528
29 LI Rui $17391
30 WANG Tianrong $17391


In each of the media we have looked at, Chinese artists have by far the strongest presence among the world’s best auction results for young artists, accounting for 60% of the top 30 results in 2011. In this ranking KAO Yu, LI Qing and WANG Nengjun take 3rd, 4th and 5th place ahead of Tauba AUERBACH in 6th place (3rd place in the drawing ranking). The 18 Chinese artists in this Top 30 are essentially sold in Beijing and Shanghai, and occasionally Hong Kong. Very few of them have an international reputation or market. , ranked 11th, is one of the few Chinese artists who combines sales in Hong Kong, Beijing, Bonhams Sydney/Amsterdam and Phillips de Pury & Company, London.

Jacob Kassay dominates the ranking
Jacob KASSAY was not only the most successful under 30 painter at auction in 2011, but also the most expensive young artist in the world, all media combined. Indeed, this ranking only confirms the phenomenal advance of Jacob Kassay over other artists of his generation, since Kassay already holds the top three positions in the Top 10 of the best-selling American artists under 40 (from June 2011 – May 2012) with three results above $180,000. All media combined, he generated the top six auction results in 2011 for artists under 30 and he is the only under-30 artist in this painting ranking to have generated a six-figure dollar result ($240,000, three times the high estimate provided by Phillips de Pury & Company, for Untitled [2009] on 12 May 2011).
The very rapid rise in Kassay’s prices appears to be fuelled by strong support from a small number of market players and his record should perhaps not be regarded as indicative of what the market is willing to pay. Similar works (same technique and size) sold in 2012 for between $80,000 to $160,000, an already very respectable price level for an early auction career. Jacob Kassay’s works are easily recognizable: monochrome silver, made using an industrial chemical and electro-galvanizing technique, producing a textured surface that reflects the environment and offers a sensory experience. The works live and move to the rhythm of their main actors: the space, the light and the viewers around them. Their reflective opacity functions as a disturbing paradox that further shakes the foundations of representation.

Apart from the expected mass presence of Chinese artists in this type of ranking, there were also a number of surprises from France, Poland and Taiwan. A superb result just under $100,000 at Artcurial (Dyptique, €72,000, 11 October 2011, Paris) gives the Franco-Swiss artist Flore SIGRIST an astonishing second place in this ranking, while the young and also unknown to the international art scene Agata KLECZKOWSKA (b. 1987) takes the 7th place, represented by Abbey House Gallery. The latter managed to sell no less than 15 of her works in 2011 through Abbey House Auction branch. In late July 2011, one of her paintings fetched four times its estimate with a bid equivalent to $57,000. To revitalize the moribund Polish art market, Abbey House has adopted a very broad business model, positioned as a gallery, an auction house (that lists in its auctions artworks by the artists represented by its gallery, among others) and an art investment fund. It seems that its challenge now is to export its artists in order to legitimize their prices on the international stage.
The third surprise comes from Taipei where the Japanese artist Hiroaki KANO took 8th place in this ranking with his one and only auction sale. His monumental 2005 Garden (227 x 650 cm) galvanized buyers at Ravenel’s sale on 5 June 2011, producing a final bid of TWD 1.4m (more than $48,000).

Fine starts to their careers…
London, New York and recently Dubai (via Christie’s) are the best places to launch a young artist’s auction career. Among the chosen few who were lucky enough to make their debuts on these markets in 2011, four artists have been particularly well received. The first, Hayv KAHRAMAN, born in 1981 in Baghdad (Iraq), takes 13th place in this ranking with a single result that was hammered on her 30th birthday at Christie’s Dubai. The work sold, Elevated Pursuit, was fresh out of her workshop and fetched $35,000 (25 October 2011). Kahraman, who began exhibiting her work at the age of 22, lives and works in California. Her works have been shown in London, New York, San Francisco, Doha and Dubai.
In 15th place we have the young American artist Rosson CROW who lives in Los Angeles and who has already impressed collectors and gallery owners. Her very large and lively paintings have been included in group exhibitions at the White Cube in London, at Deitch Projects in New York and Luxemburg’s Grand-Duc Jean Museum of Modern Art. Her works have been sold at auction since 2006 (when she was just 24) in London and New York within a price range of $20,000 to $35,000 on average.
The Egyptian artist Karim EL-QURITY earned 16th place with a result of $31,000 for The Chair Preaches, completed shortly before it was put up for auction on 26 October 2011 at Christie’s Dubai. Just behind Kareem El-Qurity, there is Tala MADANI in 17th place with a result of £19,000 ($30,000) on 28 June 2011 at Phillips de Pury & Company, London. Madani was born in 1981 in Tehran and now works between Amsterdam and New York. Despite her tender age, she already has a weighty artistic CV having participated in roughly twenty group exhibitions in Asia, Europe and the United States and several solo exhibitions in London and New York. Only two of her works have been offered (and sold) at auction, both in 2011.

The last thirteen places in the ranking, mostly held by Chinese artists, also include the Indonesian Radi ARWINDA and the Japanese artist Ayako ROKKAKU spearheading the new Kaikai Kiki generation and already highly accustomed to the auction market (185 works sold at auction between her debut in 2007 and June 2012).
While 60% of the artists in this ranking are Chinese, 70% are Asian! It would therefore appear that European markets are not used to the idea of under-30 artists having auction values, except in marginal cases where they are directly supported by an auction operator.