Art Market News in Brief!



Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news.

Edward Hopper retrospective at the Grand Palais

From 10 October 2012 to 28 January 2013, the paintings of Edward HOPPER will be exhibited at the Grand Palais (Paris). Presented in chronological order, from his early canvases to his fascinating mature works, the 160 paintings trace the career of a major artist. His fantasy America floats between romanticism and realism, inspiring a wide range of interpretations in the viewer.
96% of his sales have in fact taken place in the United States (generating 99% of his turnover) over the past fifteen years. With only sixteen paintings auctioned in the past twenty years, the artist has set dizzying records: Hotel Window (1955) fetched a staggering $24 million at Sotheby’s New York on 29 November 2006, followed by Chair Car (1965), which sold for $12.5 m (Christie’s New York, 11 May 2005). His paintings, more often seen in museums than auction rooms, certainly unleash passions when passing from one lucky owner to another. However, aficionados with less bulging wallets are still able to enrich their collections with a print or pencil drawing, with 30% of lots going for under $10,000.

New sales record for Australian artist Arthur Boyd

At the sale staged by Sotheby’s in Melbourne, VIC, on 14 August 2012, Arthur BOYD set a new record when the hammer price for Bride Running Away, one of his key works, neared $1.5m.
Born into a dynasty of artists, Arthur Boyd learned to paint in very early childhood. He therefore had no need to go to art school to earn the respect of his peers in the 70s. Recognition came with his various series: Half-Caste Bride, Metamorphosis and Nebuchadnezzar. These very dark works evoke the difficulty of the human condition and raise questions about social inequality.
His late 50s paintings from the Half-Caste Bride series are rare on the market and highly prized. They are therefore more expensive: for example, the painting Bride in the Moonlight, restored in August 2008, was auctioned for over $273,500 in March 2010 (Menzies Art Brands, Kensington, NSW) and $335,000 in June this year (Menzies Art Brands, Melbourne, VIC). The most sought-after pieces were produced between 1957 and 1960, and are very characteristic in style, like Bride Running Away. Only nine of them have appeared at auction since 1989 and they rarely sell for under $400,000.Aside from these record bids, 90% of the artist’s works offered for auction in 2011 sold for under $65,500. However, only small works (20 x 20cm and 40 x 40cm) or works in different materials (oil on cardboard, copper or paper) go for less than $30,000. His prices seem to remain high, and have almost doubled since his death in 1999.

Raphael drawing showcased at Sotheby’s

On 5 December 2012, Sotheby’s London is to offer a drawing by RAPHAEL at one of its major evening sales. The drawing, from the famous collection of the Dukes of Devonshire, is a study in black chalk for the masterpiece The Transfiguration (1518-1520). Depicting the head of an apostle, the central character of the Transfiguration, the work promises to generate astounding bids: its estimated range is already between £10m and £15m.
The sale of works by the Renaissance master is a major event in the art market: of the handful of lots sold at auction in the last fifteen years, only two have been as significant. When Head of a Muse was offered for sale at Christie’s London in 2009, the sale price smashed the £12 m-£16m estimate, reaching £26m (over $42m), just like Portrait of Lorenzo de Medici, Duke of Urbino, which two years earlier went for £16.5m (over $33 million), far beyond its £10m-£15m estimate (Christie’s London, 5 July 2007).

Sabra and Shatila Massacre: a contemporary Guernica bought by the Tate

16 September 2012 marks a sad anniversary: thirty years since the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Moved by this tragedy, the artist Dia AL-AZZAWI immediately set out to convey its horrors by immortalising the event on paper. Inspired by the testimony of reporter Jean Genet, he spent two years producing a mural often compared to Pablo PICASSO‘s Guernica. With its pale, fragmented bodies and faces, the structure of the painting evokes the broken destinies of the victims. The Tate in London is in the process of acquiring this masterpiece for its collection.
The Iraqi artist Dia Azzawi, aged 73, made his first appearance at auction in May 2001, when the watercolour What Al-Niffari sait to Abdullah was auctioned for nearly $6,500 (Sotheby’s London). Since then, only 10 drawings and watercolours have gone under the hammer. The record in this category is $10,000, set last April in Dubai (Christie’s). His paintings, which are often larger than his drawings (a minimum of 80 x 90cm compared with a maximum of 50 x 50cm), are more expensive. They mostly fetch between $15,000 and $40,000 (over two-thirds of the paintings sold). Meanwhile, his sculptures also yield good results – since 2010, all those on offer have fetched more than $25,000, with a record $60,000 for Blessed Grigri in April 2012 (Christie’s Dubai). What impact will the announcement of this acquisition by the Tate have on sales results?