Flash News



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

Eileen Gray at the Pompidou Centre

The Pompidou Centre is shining the spotlight on Eileen GRAY until 20 May 2013, with a totally new retrospective. The Irish designer, who died in 1976, left a multi-faceted body of work that had a profound influence on 20th century design. Acclaimed for both her Art Deco pieces and her modernist architecture (with the E1027 house), she applied herself throughout her life to “understanding the meaning of each thing” through a variety of techniques. Featuring paintings, lacquered works, drawings, interior decoration, architecture and even photography, the retrospective views the artist’s work “in all its continuity“.
In 2009, during what was dubbed “the sale of century” by journalists, Eileen Gray achieved her greatest success in the auction rooms. A piece in the Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent collection, the Dragon Chair(lacquered wood and leather, 1917-1919), estimated between €2 m and €3 m ($2.5 m/$3.8 m), finally went for $25 m! This result, also the highest price ever paid for a piece of 20th century furniture, benefited largely from its prestigious provenance. However, iconic objects in her output, such as the lacquered wood screens and Bibendum armchairs, regularly sell for over a million at auction. For example, the Six-panel Screen (c. 1922-1925) was knocked down for $1.6 m at Christie’s New York a few months ago (12/12/2012).

“The Angel of the Odd” moves to the Musée d’Orsay

After haunting the Städel Museum (Frankfurt) until 20 January, the exhibition The Angel of the Odd has now moved to the Musée d’Orsay (Paris) until 9 June 2013. Named after a satirical short story by Edgar Allan Poe published in 1844, the exhibition revives the dark romanticism colouring the work of numerous artists between 1770 and 1940. Visitors are confronted with occult beliefs and the “disturbing strangeness of daily life” through 200 works (paintings, sculptures and films) by artists including Max ERNST, Max ERNST, DelacroixCaspar David FRIEDRICH and Eugène DELACROIX.
This sense of strangeness is no less highly appreciated in the auction rooms. Collectors thus battle for Goya’s rare ink drawings, such as the one entitled Repentance, which sold for $1.6 m in 2008 (Christie’s London, 08/07/2008). Max Ernst’s top bids also reflect a pronounced taste for the mysterious, like the fantasy portrait of his mistress, Leonora in the morning light (oil on canvas, 1940) which doubled its low estimate in 2012 when it sold for $7 m at a Sotheby’s New York evening sale (02/05/2012).

Erwin Wurm on top form

The weird and whimsical work of Austrian artist Erwin WURM is very much in the limelight these days. On 14 February, one of his famous Fat Car put up for sale by Christie’s London set a new record for him in the auction rooms. At double its high estimate, with nearly $125,000, the soft-formed sculpture dethroned the inflated The Artist Who Swallowed the World, whose price had soared up to over $94,000 a year before (Sotheby’s London, 16 February 2012). The sale results for 2012 show that his market is decidedly in the pink, because two other works went for over $70,000: $77,000 for Anger Bump (Dorotheum, Vienna, 29 November) and $75,000 for an untitled sculpture (Christie’s London, 15 February). Hammer prices for his Fat Car are also a reliable indicator of his ever-rising popularity: the $67,000 fetched by a white version in 2009 (Dorotheum, Vienna, 25 November) has now been almost doubled by the Fat Car posting the new record. Erwin Wurm’s eccentricities are riding high, and Taddaeus Ropac, who has recently opened an exhibition/performance in his large gallery at Pantin presenting the artist’s work, is not about to challenge that! Around sculpture/moulds of houses in clay, Grammaire Wittgenstenienne de la culture physique stages a figure recurrent in Wurm’s work: the house, symbolising both withdrawal into the self and social interaction. Celebrated, anonymous architectures, the sculpture/moulds were wrecked when the artist deliberately mutilated them during an inaugural performance.