Flash News



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

Urs Fischer at the MOCA in LA

Swiss-born artist Urs FISCHER, who lives and works in New York, is constantly in the headlines, on both the institutional scene and the market. He celebrates his 40th birthday this year, and already has an impressive track record, which includes the Whitney Museum Biennial in 2010, various participations in the Venice Biennial since the age of 30 (2003, 2007 and 2011), a free hand from François Pinault at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice in 2012, and a number of exhibitions in the Gagosian galleries the same year.
An early work (a picture from 2002 – 2003 in a bold, anarchic media mix) was recently sold for the equivalent of $750,000 excluding the buyer’s premium (Mr. Toobad, £480 000, Christie’s London, 13 February 2013): a record price for a painting by this troublemaker in the art world, who tends to express himself more readily in three dimensions. This is the area that has brought him his highest scores, and indeed the area in which he established himself in 2011 as the youngest artist in the world to register a hammer price of over $3 million (Lamp-Bear, $6 million at Christie’s New York, 11 May 2011). The $6 million for Lamp Bear (exclusive of the buyer’s premium!) bought a weighing nearly 16 metric tons. It also bought the monumental work of an artist that some have hastened to dub “the new Jeff Koons”. With the proviso that Jeff KOONS seeks perfection in producing his works, while Fischer makes anti-Koons: his destabilising works deploy uncertainty and imperfection as both a means and an end. Like thought itself, Urs Fischer’s work is constantly “ in progress” – never set in stone, always in motion. Therein lies the charm of his chaotic installations, some destined for destruction, currently taking over the entire MoCA in Los Angeles (21 April – 19 August 2013).

David LaChapelle in France

Few artists can boast of a rating that has risen by 500% over the last decade, but David LACHAPELLE is one of the select coterie of the world’s most sought-after contemporary photographers.The artist is famous for using his photographic technique to put stars to the test, with an excessive take on the glamorous, theatrical world of celebrities, and on an image too artificial and alluring not to fall into the “icon” trap. David LaChapelle’s pictures juggle with our love of the profane and its falsely sacred aspects. If Michael Jackson as an archangel crushing a demon and Courtney Love as a modern Pietà are immediately intelligible diversions, the artist has made his entrance into the Templon gallery in Paris with more subtle, less literal works in the shape of the Last Supper and Still Life series. These are no longer a matter of glorified but disintegrating bodies – in a word, the other side of the façade. Fragments of dummies in boxes recompose Da Vinci’s Last Supper in a work of the same name, while Leonardo DiCaprio, John F. Kennedy and Madonna appear, this time in Still Life, as dismembered, distorted waxwork lookalikes. David LaChapelle is sure to appeal to his public in France with these new series, especially as France is the world’s third biggest consumer of his photographs (over 11% of transactions, compared with 34% in the US and 38% in the UK). French buyers tend to go for works rated between $3,000 and $40,000 at auction, while 10% of the high-end market ($40,000 to over $100,000) is sold in New York and London. The artist’s new collaboration with a French gallery could well send his home rating sky-high.

Ugo Rondinone: Human Nature

So, what are stone giants reminiscent of archaic stela doing in busy central New York? They form an installation by Urs FISCHER‘s compatriot, Ugo RONDINONE, another Swiss artist living and working between Zurich and New York. His colossal figures mount guard in the Rockfeller Center plaza between 49th and 50th Street. They patiently await the tens of thousands of art lovers who in mid-May will be thronging to the contemporary art fairs of the moment (Frieze, Pulse and Cutlog) and major sales of Impressionist, modern, post-war and contemporary art (between 8 and 15 May 2013).
Sotheby’s, incidentally, will be offering two of Rondinone’s works for sale. The first is a sculpture from 2010, one of an edition of three, previously acquired at the artist’s Gladstone gallery exhibition and the second, Nude, reprensents a melancholy expression of the human condition, with bowed head, relaxed limbs and closed eyes. Produced in wax from life, this is the first of the series to brave the sales rooms. Sotheby’s is expecting it to make between $200,000 and $300,000 – a long way from the artist’s current record, held since 2011 by a bare white tree, frozen in time like the Nude up for sale on 15th May. The tree, which sold for the record price of £450,000 (over $718,000), thus looks set to remain a high point for some time to come (Get up girl a sun is running the world, Phillips de Pury & Company, 27 June 2011, London). Especially since the second work proposed by Sotheby’s on 15th May, a better-known work from 2008 featuring his famous multi-coloured concentric circles with fuzzy contours, is announced in the same price range as Nude. The price of his paintings has trebled in ten years: these fetched an average of $60,000 –$90,000 in the early 2000s.