Art Market News in Brief !



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

Caro Niederer at the Hauser & Wirth gallery

Eighteen works on canvas by the Swiss artist Caro NIEDERER are being shown for the first time in New York at the prestigious Hauser & Wirth gallery. Born in 1963, Niederer, who makes sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs and even videos, is exhibiting her recent paintings at the H&W gallery from June 27 to July 27. Her works reflect the complex process that exists between production and memory. Usually beginning her work by reproducing a banal photograph (a postcard or a photograph taken by the artist) on another medium, the artist questions reality and its interpretation.
This is her first exhibition since 2008, and her fourth for Hauser & Wirth (two exhibitions in Switzerland in 2005 and 2008 and one in London in 2007). Although she has had over eleven solo exhibitions over the past ten years, her work has only once been to auction so far (a print entitled Interieur fetched CHF 140 in 2009). This is a far cry from the auction records held by other Contemporary artists represented by Hauser & Wirth ($1.28m for Bharti KHER , $205,257 for Thomas HOUSEAGO, $1.1m for Ron MUECK and $1m for Subodh GUPTA).

Ellsworth Kelly’s plants invade the New York Metropolitan

Until September 3, 2012 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is presenting a much less well-known body of work by the artist Ellsworth KELLY (born 1923). Entitled “Plant of Ellsworth Kelly”, the exhibition brings together, for the first time, nearly 80 drawings of plants drawn since 1948. Best known for his abstract works, and his paintings that reject the rectangular shape (Shaped Canvas), “Plant of Ellsworth Kelly” is the first retrospective devoted entirely to the figurative work of the American artist.
Ellsworth Kelly is very popular in his home country, where he generates 96% of his sales from 86% of his transactions. It was also in the U.S. (at Sotheby’s New York, in 2007), that he set his current personal auction record with a major work: Spectrum VI fetched no less than $4.6m. This painting, which is highly representative of the artist’s work with space and colour, brings together 13 panels and 13 different colours. With this work Kelly adds 6 new colours to Newton’s vision of light being composed of 7 colours.
Although his paintings soar beyond the million dollar mark at auctions, it is possible for fans of the artist to acquire works for less than $8,500. Between January 2011 and June 2012, nearly 65% of his auction lots sold for less than $8,500.

Joana Vasconcelos: Girls Power!

At just 41 years, the career of the artist Joana VASCONCELOS is continuing its ascension. Already a queen in her castle, she has brilliantly feminised the Palais deVersailles where you will find sewing, knitting, crochet, tassels, sequins and feathers. Considered the most talented Portuguese artist of her generation, her status has been further consolidated by becoming the next artist to represent Portugal at the Venice Biennale. So, first woman at Versailles… first woman at the Portuguese pavilion… an excellent victory for an artist who overplays female stereotypes to denounce the clichés of femininity. Indeed it was precisely with this approach that she seduced the art world seven years ago. In 2005 first of all with A Noiva (the Bride), a huge chandelier made of virginal white tampons. This same work, which was the subject of royal censorship, has also been denied exposure at Versailles. The history of Versailles… its conservative associations …and Contemporary art rarely seeing eye-to-eye… the tampon work was apparently too big to pass through the door!
Despite a modest presence in auction rooms with only 11 results to her name so far, her price index is clearly gathering upside potential. Already in 2010 her famous monumental slipper Marilyn found a buyer at $660,000 (Christie’s London, 11 February). A record that is still unequalled today, the artist has nevertheless had three results above $150,000. Her only auction result so far this year has been in her native Portugal for a work entitled Spin 2001 which fetched $42,000 (above its high estimate) at Veritas, Lisbon, on 13 February. With her career booming, demand for Joana Vasconcelos’ works could well generate some handsome surprises. To be continued …

The phenomenon Paul Jenkins has died

Born in 1923, Paul JENKINS spent his entire life crossing the heavens of painting freeing himself from its usual horizons. Alongside the greatest artists of the Post-War period (like Jackson POLLOCK, Mark ROTHKO or Willem DE KOONING), Paul Jenkins was a great exponent of American Abstract Expressionism. An ever-curious traveller, he divided his time between New York and Paris. Developing his full style in the 60s, he had solo exhibitions all over the world. In his works – veritable celebrations of bright colours – Paul Jenkins never stopped exploring the relationship between colour and light. Via his technique – typical of the liberation of the artistic gesture of the time – he abandoned the brush to devote himself to the art of controlled accidents.
The artist’s market is still affordable at auction with 90% of lots selling for less than $20,000. His most emblematic works of the Phenomena series also mostly sell below this threshold. Today, his auction record, set by Phenomena Prism Emissary (1985) remains modest at only $75,000 (Christie’s New York, September 30, 2010). However, the artist’s price index has been distinctly buoyant over the last ten years after being multiplied by 6.