Art Market News in Brief!

[05 Apr 2013]


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

Giuseppe Penone at Versailles

Giuseppe PENONE is the sixth leading contemporary artist to pit himself against the glory Versailles. His will be the latest voice in a dialogue between Baroque and Contemporary art that began in 2009 with Jeff KOONS and then Xavier VEILHAN, and continued with Takashi MURAKAMI in 2010, Bernar VENET in 2011 and Joana VASCONCELOS in 2012. As, four million people visited the earlier exhibitions, it would be fair to say that this is no small affair for the Italian artist, who will be taking over the park and several rooms at the Château from 11 June to 30 October 2013, at the invitation of Catherine Pégard. His works will be divided between the Château and the Park, following the line of the Grand Perspective, dotting the Le Nôtre gardens from the terraces to the Latone Parterre and from the green carpet to the Grand Canal. Some twenty sculptures will be placed along the Royal Path which leads, in a vast sweep, from the Château to the Grand Canal, while others will people the Bosquet de l’Étoile.
Penone’s sculptural punctuation marks promise a sensitive, elegant journey – such is the stamp of nature’s sentiment on his work. Asked about taking up such a challenge, the artist confided, ‘The opportunity for my work to interact with that of Le Nôtre at Versailles is a great privilege. The garden is an symbolic place that truly encapsulates Western thought on the relation between man and nature.’

Like the Louvre, Versailles is surrounded by an aura of prestige, and holding an exhibition there tends to boost the market of the artist in question. Gallery owners and Penone collectors, however, are not particularly keen to part with their pieces: fewer than 130 lots auctioned since 1990 for an artist of Penone’s standing is a sparse total… Especially when that total includes a mere 28 sculptures. Nevertheless, the announcement of his invitation to Versailles does seem to have revealed a very fine work in bronze from 2005 – (Pelle Di Foglie (Occhi Al Cielo, Mano a Terra) – which sold for a record-breaking figure of £240,000 (nearly $378,000) when it was auctioned at Sotheby’s in London on 2 February 2013, four months ahead of the Versailles exhibition.

Richter: one record after another?

What more could one expect from a living artist who has earned nine record-breaking multi-million auction sales in two years? More multi-million records, so say Sotheby’s. The auction house certainly pulled off a coup in October 2012 when it sold a Gerhard Richter abstract for over $30 m (Abstraktes Bild, £19 m, 12 October, London). This spectacular record makes him the most expensive living artist of the moment. The artist may certainly have had the wind in his sails for some months now, but the art world was nevertheless astonished to see the hammer to come down at £10 m over the low estimates. Abstraktes Bild’s pedigree undoubtedly encouraged bidders, the previous owner being none other than Eric Clapton, who purchased it in 2001 at a tenth of its 2012 selling price.
In 2012, Richter’s works sold at auctions generated more money than an entire year of auctions in Germany. With demand holding steady and values soaring (a rise of over 250% from 2006 to end 2012), auction houses will be falling over each other to obtain his more important works, which they estimate will sell for ever-increasing sums. The next occasion will be the sale announced by Sotheby’s of Domplatz, Mailand, a large-format painting dating from 1968 (270 cm x 290 cm).
This is the work which Sotheby’s hopes will set Richter’s record price even higher, with estimates ranging from $30 m to $40 m (auction scheduled for 14 May 2013 in New York). Sotheby’s has already sold this work once before, for £3.3 m in 1998, a record in its day (£2 m, 9 December 1998 in London).

Vlad Mamyshev Monroe (1969-2013)

The Russian artist, Vladislav MAMYSHEV-MONROE, better known by the name of Vlad Monroe, was to have been guest of honour at the recent Art Paris Art Fair, which ended on 1 April 2013. The announcement of his sudden, tragic death in Bali, on 16 March at the age of 43, came as a shock to his friends, gallery owners (and particularly the Rabouan Moussion Gallery, which was to be his host) and to collectors, who had all planned to be at the event in Paris – a veritable showcase for the Contemporary Russian art scene.
Vlad Monroe dressed up as modern-day idols, transforming his own features into those of such well-known figures as Marilyn Monroe, Dalí, Jesus Christ, Vladimir Putin and Bin Laden at performances that can still be seen in photos or watched on video. For his appearance at the Grand Palais, on the opening evening of the Art Paris Art Fair, he had intended to take on the persona of Gérard Depardieu.

His self-portraits, where he would appear dressed up as someone else, echo the post-modern postures found in the work of Cindy SHERMAN or Yasumasa MORIMURA, with an orthodox dissenting social and political slant. This major artist from the Russian art scene exhibited at a number of major exhibitions such as Russia! (Guggenheim New York & Bilbao, 2005-06) and Sots Art (La Maison Rouge, Paris, 2008). More recently, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art exhibited his work inspired by the work entitled Polonius (until 5 April 2013). Despite his institutional success, his public market is fairly subdued, with just a few photographies on offer in London and Paris. The last lot sold in 2009, in which the artist appears in the persona of Peter the Great and Catherine I, went for the price of £3,000, a mere $5,000, under the hammer at Sotheby’s (Peter the Great/Catherine the Great lot of two photos, edition 1/5, 59.5 cm x 49 cm, 9 June 2009).
With the contemporary market being particularly frail in Russia today, the galleries are educating amateurs in situ, while simultaneously exhibiting their works across Europe. The aura of the contemporary Russian artist is once again being felt on the international scene, outstripping their national recognition.