Art Market News in Brief !

[13 Jul 2012]


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

James Rosenquist’s F-111 will leave its MoMA base on July 30

James ROSENQUIST’s fighter plane has been hung on the 4th floor of the MoMA since 25 January, 2012. The painting appears in its original 4-wall configuration, as it was presented in 1965, and although it has travelled the world, it is rarely exposed as its 86 feet require a very special setting.
In the words of the artist, F-111 questions “the collusion between the Vietnam death machine, consumerism, the media, and advertising.” Created in 1964, this major work of the 20th century depicts a subject that is just as sensitive today as it was then. Rosenquist traps our vision to deliver an explosive message: the cheerful colours quickly become unbearably brash and the apparent merriment is distorted by a restrained violence.
Considered his masterpiece, F-111 generated Rosenquist’s auction record in 1986 when it fetched $1.9m at Sotheby’s New York, only a fraction of what it would fetch today. His best paintings of the 1960s, with generous dimensions (between 1 and 2 metres), easily sell beyond the $1m line!
Rosenquist’s work is rare and highly sought-after and his auction turnover rose by 86% between 2010 and 2011 despite a 9% fall in the number of transactions over the same period. While it is difficult today to obtain a painting for less than $250,000, it is easier to find quality prints between 1,500 and $10,000: about a hundred are offered every year at auctions.

Anthony Gormley and his gometric bodies in London’s White Cube gallery

Having been exhibited at the Hermitage in St Petersburg in 2011, Antony GORMLEY’s 15 iron blocks have been booked into London’s White Cube gallery from July 13 to 15 September. The exhibition reflects the artist new interest in built spaces and human architecture. The artist uses both floors of the gallery to show 18 human sculptures, each consisting of a large number of small rectangular blocks of iron. The exhibited work evokes the delicate balance of human forms that seem to have lost their centers of gravity. Whether the shapes are at rest, in action, or just waiting, these iron forms seem wounded by their disparate bodies. Gormley says his work is an attempt to apply “the formalism of modernity to the body with a view to identifying the contradictions it brings in terms of emotional language.” This exhibition follows a retrospective dedicated to Gormley in the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo, Rio and Brasilia which brought together works created over the last 40 years, including Amazonian Field, Critical Mass, Event Horizon and Breathing Room.
On the secondary market, his most successful works are undoubtedly from the series Angel of the North. These account for his four best results, including his auction record of £3m at Christie’s London in October 2011 for a human-scale model spanning more than 5 meters. In 2008, a similar work sold for £1m less.The price index of the Turner Prize laureate (1994) has exploded in recent years: before 2007, the artist had a single result above $300,000 (Present Time fetched $371,880 on 14 October 2006 at Sotheby’s London). Since 2007, he has crossed that threshold 26 times. In 2011, this recognition at auctions generated more than $8.9m in auction revenue, and gave him the 29th position in our global ranking of Contemporary artists, ahead of Marc QUINN ($ 4.8m) and GILBERT & GEORGE ($4.5m), two other artists also represented by White Cube.

New auction record for Li Keran

Since last June, the grand master of traditional Chinese landscapes, LI Keran (1907-1989), has a staggering new record after his Mountain in red (ink on paper) fetched $40m (at Poly Auction, Hong Kong, 3 June 2012). The work is from a series of seven works inspired by Mao Zedong’s poem Qin-Yuan-Chun.We note that the fair-sized work (131 x 84 cm) with its popular red landscape theme was eagerly awaited by Li Keran fans. In fact, 2012 began exceptionally well for the artist who, following the sale of two iconic works, including Mountain in Red, saw his record of $14.5m for Long march (China Guardian Auction, Beijing 22/11/10) twice revised. In effect, less than a month before the sale of Mountain in Red, Li Keran had already refreshed his 2010 auction record with a result of more than $17m for Shaoshan-revolutionary sacred place of chairman mao’s former residence. In other words, Li Keran’s market is extremely dynamic at the moment and his $40 million record is one of the best ever recorded for a Chinese artist. By comparison, in the same generation, QI Baishi’s record stands at $57m (Eagle Standing on Pine Tree; Four-Character Couplet in Seal Script, China Guardian Auction, Beijing, May 22, 2011) while that of ZHANG Daqian is just under $22m (Lotus and Madarin Ducks, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, May 31, 2011).
Proud of this success, Poly Auction believes this result marks the beginning of a new period of growth for the Asian art market.

Othoniel at Versailles

Jean-Michel OTHONIEL, an artist renowned for his beautiful blown-glass necklaces, will participate in the restoration of the Bosquet du Théâtre d’eau (Château de Versailles) in association with Louis Benech, landscape gardener of the Elysee Gardens. Created by André Le Notre (Louis XIV’s gardener) and destroyed a few decades later, the Théâtre d’eau will get a second lease of life thanks to the creations of Jean-Michel Othoniel who is proposing four gilded fountains composed of interlacing and arabesques, to restore the spirit of place as it was conceived.
Despite exhibitions in Paris (Centre Pompidou, 2011) and Tokyo (Hara Museum, 2012), Jean-Michel Othoniel is a rare bird at auctions. So far, only 56 of his works have been auctioned with more than half being bought in. The auction results have been mixed because the lots are generally not the iconic pieces (such as his public and private commissions) that have made him famous. Often monumental, these works look much better when adequately installed than on the auction podium. Nevertheless, when one of his major pieces is offered at auction, it is particularly coveted. Two of his museum quality works have reached respectively $110,000, (Double Collier Blanc, 24/06/10 Wright Auction, USA) and $80,000 (La Fontaine du Plaisir et des Larmes, 04/04/12, Cornette de Saint Cyr, France).