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Art Market News in Brief!

[02/11/2012]

En bref! 

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

In focus: Robert Mapplethorpe at the Getty Museum

From 23 October 2012 to 24 March 2013, the Getty Museum (Los Angeles) is presenting a selection of works by Robert MAPPLETHORPE, recently acquired with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). This exhibition showcases 23 pieces by the controversial artist including mixed media works from the 1970s and self-portraits and photographs from the 1980s. The later works presented address Mapplethorpe’s favourite subjects: still lifes and nudes, oscillating between the legacy of Richard AVEDON and gender subversion. The exhibition can be seen alongside the current exhibition at the LACMA where Mapplethorpe’s later XYZ portfolios are on show.
With nearly 1,800 works sold at auction over the past fifteen years, Mapplethorpe’s abundant secondary market delights his fans and has posted a steadily declining unsold rate since 2009, reaching 18% of lots (excluding prints) in 2011. The artist achieved his auction record with the highly emblematic Portrait of Andy WARHOL, immortalized in 1987, which fetched $560,000 at Christie’s New York on 17 October 2006. This unique piece earned ten times the price of the corresponding multiple versions: Andy Warhol, 5/10, fetched just $50,000 at Christie’s in New York a few months earlier (5 May 2006). Although a portrait generated his auction record, 7 of his top 10 results have nevertheless rewarded his floral photographs made in the last years of his life.

Excellent results for the Mis collection

On 24 October 2012, Sotheby’s Paris dispersed a collection belonging to the famous gallery owners Zaira and Marcel Mis for a total of more than €19m ($24.5m, buyers’ fees included). The fruit of forty years of diligent research, the collection contained works by some of the biggest names: Magritte, Fontana, Warhol, Matisse, Picasso, Schiele, Christo, Boetti, Klee…
This highly anticipated sale recorded several new records for the French market place. In first place a work by René MAGRITTE, La grande table, which generated the best result of the sale at more than €4.5m ($5.8m). Paris had not seen the sale of a prestigious work by the artist for more than 20 years, hence the enthusiasm of buyers. Another key piece in the collection was Andy WARHOL’s Four multicoloured marilyns which fetched over €2.8m ($3.6m), well above its high estimate of €2m ($2.5m). In third place, a Alexander CALDERmobile that nearly doubled its high estimate of €1.5m ($1.9m) when it sold for more than €2.6m ($3.4m). In 5th place, Lucio FONTANA’s Concetto spaziale, New York 8 fetched €910,000 ($1.2m).
Lastly, although not a French record for the artist, note the excellent performance of Pablo PICASSO’s Etreinte drawing which fetched €580,000 ($750,000), five times its high estimate.
With a low unsold rate (14.1% of lots offered), 5 results in the millions and 20 lots sold above their high estimate, this well-orchestrated sale more than kept its promises.

Bridget Riley awarded the Sikkens

On 28 October, the Sikkens Foundation awarded its prize to Bridget RILEY (born 1931), the first woman to be honoured by the Dutch institution. In effect, since 1960, on an irregular basis, the prize has been awarded to an artist for ground-breaking work with colour: in 1963 it was LE CORBUSIER and in 1968, Willem DE KOONING. This year, the Foundation has described Bridget Riley’s use of colour as “pure, subtle and precise, guiding a whole generation of artists.”
As of the 1960s, her optical effects in black and white on (Op Art) earned her international recognition. In 1967, her works started including colours and in 1968 she won the prestigious Grand Prix at the Venice Biennale. Today, her works regularly arouse admiration: in July 2012, the British artist won the Rubens prize (Siegen, Germany). The enthusiasm is also evident at auction, mainly in her country of origin: on 1 July 2008, her striped composition entitled Chant 2 (1967) sold for over $4.5 million at Sotheby’s in London, followed by seven other 6-figure results, only one of which was outside the United Kingdom. Over the past fifteen years, 84% of her auction revenue has been generated on British soil.

New auction record for Peter Beard

On 4 and 5 October, Christie’s organized a sale dedicated to photography at Rockefeller Plaza in New York. The famous auction house offered the crème de la crème: Hiroshi SUGIMOTO, Helmut NEWTON, Diane ARBUS… fans were spoiled for choice. However it was Peter BEARD who signed the best result of the sale with his Orphan Cheetah Triptych which elicited furious bidding up to $550,000, far surpassing its high estimate of $150,000!
Since the 1960s, Peter Beard has photographed wildlife in Africa. A mixture of photographs, ink, blood and watercolour, his works reveal the irreversible destruction of wildlife caused by consumer society.
Last May, he exceeded the $400,000 threshold for the first time when his Hunting Cheetahs on the Taru Desert, Kenya, June demolished its high estimate of $180,000 at Philips de Pury & Company in London. In fact, since January 2010, more than 10 of his lots have fetched over $100,000. With this last record at more than $500,000, the ascending trend on his prices has been confirmed. Since January 2010, only thirty of his lots have sold for less than $10,000. They are often photos only slightly altered by the hand of the artist: Tsavo before the die off, July 1960, immortalising elephants in the savannah, one of his favourite subjects, sold at the end of its estimate range for $5,000 last October at Phillips de Pury & Company in New York. But the same picture with more detail (adding feathers, hand prints, paint and blood) soared to $45,000 in April 2011 at Sotheby’s, in New York.

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