30 under 30: sculpture

[31 Jul 2012]


This summer, Artprice presents the future stars of the art market with a weekly ranking of the thirty top-selling artists under 30 in each artistic medium: today we look at sculpture.

Strong dominance of Chinese artists
There is a fundamental difference between the Chinese secondary market and that of the West: Chinese auction firms are not afraid of young and unknown artists and as a result a large number get established on the auction market at relatively tender ages. In the West, young artists must first pass through the filter of galleries and private or institutional exhibitions before possibly being offered on the secondary market. The net result is that young Chinese artists very largely outweigh the rest of the world with their presence at auctions. In this ranking of the top 30 results for under-30s in the field of sculpture, there are no less than 18 Chinese artists.

The Top 30 under 30s: sculpture

Rank Artist Auction result
1 DONG Boquan $29943
2 KAO Yu $27827
3 Dash SNOW $25072
4 REN Zhe $16730
5 Abdulrahman KATANANI $16000
6 YAN Shilin $15809
7 JIN Nv $14265
8 CHEN Jinqing $12608
9 Karl LAGASSE $10262
10 HAN Na $9117
11 Jodie CAREY $8789
12 YAN Wu Liang $8727
13 CHEN Wencai $8646
14 XIAOMAN Cheung $8195
15 MA Wenjia $7879
16 CHEN Rong $7879
17 ZHANG Xiaoman $7700
18 SUN Peng $7092
19 WANG Liwei $7074
20 YANG Chen $5973
21 Marina CRUZ GARCIA $5782
22 Hamed RASHTIAN $5000
23 LV Yiren $4620
24 DU Peng $4412
25 Tiana GUENANT $4058
26 Hakan BAKIR $3750
27 Ai HAIBARA $3478
28 Csaba SZABO $3467
29 PLUMCAKE $3334
30 Janos & Stefanie KORBAN & FLAUBERT $3250

In first place, DONG Boquan (born 1983) has a very local market between Hong Kong and Beijing. A small number of Chinese collectors are fond of her female nudes in bronze, which generally fetch between $15,000 and $30,000 at auction. Her best result reflects the appetite of collectors seeking more decorative than conceptual work: on 16 November 2011, his somewhat lascivious Phanton (5/8) sold for more than twice its high estimate after a final bid equivalent to $30,000 (China Guardian Auctions, Beijing). This type of figurative work, usually in bronze, caters perfectly to the local market. It is very far from the concerns of Western artists and collectors, and, as such, its market is destined to remain limited. However, Chinese bidders enjoy these works and enjoy bidding up the prices, and they are clearly not in need of global approval to do so. Several other Chinese artists in this ranking fall more or less into this category such as REN Zhe (4th place), CHEN Jinqing (8th place), HAN Na (10th place) and Anganampa MARTIN (17th place). One of the most dynamic works is a piece by Ren Zhe that portrays warrior figures in bronze, supposedly the heirs of the noble spirit of the Han Dynasty. Revisiting traditional values and materials has earned him considerable success in China and Taiwan. The auction house Ravenel has already dispersed four of his huge metal dogs at above $10,000, including Breaking Through Brambles and Thorns which fetched nearly $17,000 (4 December, 2012).

In a completely different style, both more playful and more ambiguous, the Chinese artist KAO Yu takes second place in this ranking. He was only 26 when two of his paintings sold at the prestigious Sotheby’s New York on 20 September 2007 (one of which, Erotic Art, fetched $20,000). At 29, he already has three results over $100,000 for his paintings. His happily regressive world also produces sculptures and he has lots of fans for his character GG the Panda, accessible for around $30,000 at auctions (Five elements mountain, ChengXuan Beijing, 22 May 2011). This iconography derived from comics strips is popular among many Asian artists, including YAN Wu Liang, who kicked off his auction career with a result of $8,700, not in China, but in Switzerland, on 24 November 2011 (Singing to the nation No. 1 – Girl und Applause No. 3 – Boy ).
The disturbing sculptures of YAN Shilin (born 1982) fall into the same vein. They made their auction debut in June 2010 at around $7,000. A year and a half later, his painted bronze sculpture Children fetched $15,000 (Beijing Tranthy, CNY 100,000). His compatriot JIN Nv (b. 1984) is just behind him in this ranking with equally ambiguous and confused-looking characters, made in painted fiberglass, a technically lighter process (My fairy-little red riding hood , CNY 90,000 [$14,300], Huachen Beijing, Beijing).

The only American in the ranking
Dash SNOW is in fact ranked in all mediums: he closes the top 10 results for drawings by artists under 35 (She Stole My Baby, $22,000, 8 March 2011, Phillips de Pury & Co. NY); he comes 4th for the best result in photography of an artist under 30 and takes 3rd place in this sculpture ranking. His troubled personality and his direct works quickly became popular and their prices are rising rapidly with the additional fuel of having become the trash relics of a young artist who died at the age 29. The result that earns him his 3rd place in this ranking was for an untitled composition on which two messages overlap: “Cheap and nasty” and “Don’t forget your teeth” that fetched the equivalent of $25,000 (Untitled, £16,000, on 13 October 2011 at Phillips de Pury & Company in London).

The Middle East in the competition
Similar in some ways to China, the Middle Eastern secondary market is less timid than elsewhere in the world when it comes to promoting artists at auction.
Abdulrahman KATANANI grew up in Palestinian refugee camps made of all kinds of junk, hazardous buildings and barbed wire. Today the strength of his artistic work comes from his de-dramatization of life in the camps. Although made from recovered materials (corrugated iron, barbed wire, bits of wood), his sculptures and installations are like a joyous snub misery. He holds the 5th place in this ranking with Jumping over the Barbed wire which fetched $16,000 on 26 October 2011 at Christie’s Dubai. A few days earlier, an Untitled sculpture/installation of a little boy playing fetched the equivalent of $7,800 at Sotheby’s in London (4 October 2011).
Another Middle Eastern artist worth mentioning is the Iranian Hamed RASHTIAN who studied mathematics before studying art alongside the famous Parviz TANAVOLI, the best-known Iranian sculptor (whose first sculptures auctioned in February 2007 generated results between $65,000 and $85,000). However, unlike his master, Hamed Rashtian has not waited until his 70th year before finding a favorable echo on the auction market. He takes the 22nd place in this ranking with a result of $5,000 for We don’t need another hero (after Barbara Kruger), a unique piece in fiberglass (Christie’s Dubai, 26 October2011).

Young European creativity is under-represented in the rankings
However, the London-born Jodie CAREY (b. 1981) has a great career ahead of her. Her ambivalent and baroque works have already been praised by Antony GORMLEY and her career, already exceptional for her age, is being successfully promoted by the gallery Hauser and Wirth (2005 exhibition in London in Zurich) and the Saatchi Collection (2012, One Giant Leap, Works from the Saatchi Collection). Taking 12th place in this ranking, her Untitled Monument (2007) nevertheless failed to reach the estimate posted by Christie’s in June 2011. This imposing work, that looks like a wedding cake (203.2 x 351.8 x 203.2 cm) but with hints of a Mortuary Memorial (the work is composed of a tangle of 2000 casts of human bones), found a very happy buyer at less than $9,000.