New faces on the auction scene: Bill Viola is number one



Bill Viola is one of this year’s revelations. His storming entrance onto the auction scene on 27 June 2002, when his Incrementation sold for GBP40,000, has been followed by an exhibition at the Guggenheim. He tops our ranking of new contemporary artists at auction (see chart). This shows that video art can fetch high prices when top-name artists come up for auction.

A number of factors can help bring new talents to light. There is nothing like a prestigious exhibition, the backing of a renowned art gallery or winning an award to make a name for themselves. From this point of view, the career of Bill VIOLA is exemplary. In 1974 at the age of 23, he had one of his first major exhibitions at The Kitchen, New York. From 1979, his works were on show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Soon afterwards, it was touring the world’s main contemporary art museums: Paris (1983), Los Angeles (1985) and Stockholm (1985). In 1995, he represented the United States at the 46th Venice Biennial. His work is now springing up everywhere. A video installation, Going Forth By Day (2002) is currently showing at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York until 12 January 2003 and his work will be exhibited at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles from January 2003. The Reflecting Pool (1977-79) which visited Paris on 5 October is now at the Tate, St Ives, Cornwall (UK) until 26 January 2003, The Messenger (1996) in Emdem (Germany) and Room for St. John of the Cross (1983) at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens. He now exhibits at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery (London) and the James Cohan Gallery (New York).

His biography traces a near-perfect path through the portals of critical acceptance leading on to fame in the market. But it still took twenty years to get from his first solo exhibition to Viola’s first public auction, suggesting just how hard it is to penetrate the auction market with visual art and installations.

Along with Daniel BOTTERO, he is one of the few artists aged over 50 on our list. Most are still under 30. All the same, nearly all have been shown in major international fairs such as « The Armory Show 2002 »ou « Art Basel ». or the Basel Art Fair. They have also often had at least one outing at an international biennial (Sydney, Berlin, Venice etc) like Toba KHEDOORI and Darren ALMOND who exhibited at the Tate Britain, London in 2001. Besides solo exhibitions, there are the media-friendly prizes.


  Consult Bill Viola biographical data   New faces on the auction scene Top 20 hammer prices for contemporary artists sold at auction for the first time rank
Artist Hammer price Title Sale 1 Bill VIOLA € 62 240 Incrementation Christie’s London, June 27, 2002 2 Toba KHEDOORI € 60 357 Fragments Christie’s New York, May 14 2002 3 Darren ALMOND € 27 398 Diary Sotheby’s New York, May 16, 2002 4 Patricia PICCININI € 22 932 Psychogeography Christie’s Melbourne, June 25, 2002 5 Michael RAEDECKER € 18 630 Tronie N°6 Sotheby’s New York, May 16, 2002 6 Daniel BOTTERO € 18 175 Se Que Estas Sotheby’s New ork, May 30, 2002 7 Ricardo MAZAL € 17 229 One Inch Above n°3 Christie’s New York, May 29, 2002 8 Mark Christian WETHLI; € 16 272 August Barridoff Galleries, Portland, July 31, 2002 9 Per O. MANING€ 16 238 Uten tittel Blomqvist, Oslo, March 19, 2002 10 Martín LA ROSA € 16 037 Con la ultima luz de la tarde Sotheby’s New York, May 30, 2002 text
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