Flash News: Olafur Eliasson – Dada – Egon Schiele



Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: Olafur Eliasson – Dada – Egon Schiele.

Olafur Eliasson at Versailles
The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur ELIASSON is following on from Anish Kapoor at the Chateau de Versailles, with an opening announced for the month of June 2016. While the time may seem short for organising an exhibition to be set up both in the gardens and the interior of the huge chateau, Olafur Eliasson is more than capable of meeting the challenge thanks to support from the 90 people his atelier employs. After the hurly burly that Anish Kapoor had to contend with, the sensory poetry of Eliasson should meet with general approval in Versailles. The French know his work from the 2002 exhibition at the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art and his installation Ice Watch the Place de Pantheon in Paris in December 2015. This ephemeral work consisted of several gigantic blocks of ice that were in fact fragments from the Nuuk glacier in Greenland: several tons of pure, compacted snow melting during the COP21 United Nations Conference on climate change. The internationally recognised artist is particularly sought after in London and New York (which together account for some 90% of his earnings on the auction market). His prices have risen 194% since 2000, despite a roller coaster market subject to the vagaries of a rather scarce supply of works.

Dada Turns One Hundred
The history of Dada has just reached its centenary year. It began in February 1916 at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, around Hugo Ball, Tristan TZARA and Marcel JANCO. Dada is a deliberately absurd name for an anarchic movement playing on the rupture of conventions, deliberate destabilisation and creative freedom, the shattering of shackles, performance and madness “more beautiful than pale reason.” From Zurich, Dada was to conquer Paris, Berlin and New York, seducing André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Hans Arp and Dali, before the foundation of Surrealism. Throughout 2016, several events are to mark this jubilee in Zurich, orchestrated by “Dada 100 Zurich 2016”, an association that creates links with other Dada cities like Berlin, Paris, New York and Moscow.
Dada works, including some signed by the likes of Kurt SCHWITTERS or Hans ARP, are inherently rare. Embodiments of the Dada spirit, the Ready Made works of Marcel DUCHAMP are equally difficult to acquire, and much sought after on the market. Duchamp became the author of the most expensive Dada work in the world when Belle haleine, Eau de violette (1921), previously estimated at USD 1-2m, finally sold for over USD 10m. The precious bottle soared in value upon the dispersal of the Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent collection in February 2009. The market for Dada having made no great waves since then, the upcoming events may prove able to bring some precious works out of the shadows of private collections.

A Buoyant Market for Egon Schiele
While the great Austrian artist Egon SCHIELE is heard of all too rarely, recent sales have brought his work back into the limelight. After being at the heart of autumn sales in 2015, with an exceptional 24 drawings being auctioned as part of the dispersal of Alfred Taubman’s collection (4 and 5 November at Sotheby’s in New York, for prices from USD 100,000 to over USD 3m), Schiele greatly contributed to the success of sales in February 2016, with a superb self-portrait that sold for USD 10.3m (2 February 2016 at Christie’s). This work had already come up for auction in 2007, reaching USD 8.8m (6 February 2007 at Christie’s London). Its price has increased by 17% within 10 years. One of the most fascinating aspects of this Self-Portrait with Spread Fingers (Selbstbildnis mit gespreizten Fingern), is the early age at which the artist, then only 19, created the masterpiece. It also reveals the influence of Gustav Klimt in the composition and use of gold background. The work was accomplished shortly after their joint exhibition at the International Kunstschau in 1909. The record for Schiele still stands at USD 40m for the sale in 2011 of a 1914 canvas entitled Houses with Colourful Laundry (Suburb II), a rare urban landscape, acquired in the year of its completion by the patron Heinrich Böhler and sold by his widow in 1952 to Rudolf Leopold, before reappearing at Sotheby’s London.