Flash news

[09 Aug 2013]


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

Djamel Tatah: The drum beats faster

During the first three months of 2013, works by Djamel TATAH popped up regularly at major collective exhibitions in the south of France. Art lovers came across his works in Marseille, at the collective exhibition “Here, Elsewhere” (12 January – 31 March 2013), in Avignon at the “Oriental Mirages, Pomegranates and Prickly Pears” show at the Collection Lambert (9 December 2012 – 28 April 2013) and in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, at the Maeght Foundation’s “E-motion, Bernard Massini collection” (19 January – 17 March 2013). The Maeght Foundation is also preparing to host a Tatah retrospective (14 December 2013 – 5 January 2014), an event that is bound to generate interest in his work. This is a first for the Foundation, which has never before committed so strongly to a French artist of this generation.
Still relatively unknown in the auction market, Djamel Tatah set his personal record in 2007 with his portrait of a woman set against a red background, her arms folded and gaze trained on the viewer. This work from 1999 sold for €11,000 or almost $15,000 before buyer’s premium, at Cornette de Saint Cyr in Paris (6 – Sans titre, 1st April 2007). As a rule, his life-size paintings of the human form can be snapped up for less than €10,000 in sales rooms. Supply and demand are still very localised, centred mainly on France and occasionally Brussels. This solo exhibition will break new ground for the Maeght Foundation, which will be celebrating its 50th birthday in 2014.

Paul Klee at the Tate Modern, London

Paul KLEE (1879-1940), a major 20th century artist and teacher at the Bauhaus school and Düsseldorf Art Academy until 1933, is the creator of an abstract, organic oeuvre that resonates with musical and spiritual undertones and bears the influence of Mark ROTHKO, Kenneth NOLAND, Richard DIEBENKORN and Joan MIRO.
The Tate Modern in London is preparing to devote a major exhibition to this major artist entitled “Paul Klee: Making visible” (16 October 2013 – 9 March 2014). It will allow visitors to discover 30 years of works held in museums and private collections. Although Klee was a prolific artist (producing over 10,000 pieces), it is very rare to see one of his major works on the auction market. The Tate Modern exhibition is likely to spark demand but this does not necessarily mean that such works will appear in the sales rooms. His sales are so strongly influenced by the vagaries of the market that his auction results can fluctuate between $23 million and $4.4 million from one year to the next (annual results recorded in 2011 and 2012). His collectors are very discerning – they may be prepared to splash out in excess of $100,000 for a work on paper while preferring to pass on a piece that is somewhat mediocre or that has been given too high an estimate. This is why, in June 2013 alone, 44% of his works ended up being withdrawn from sale. The discernment of his buyers is certainly partly responsible for these setbacks, but they are also due to the physical location of the auctions. Klee always sells better in Paris, London and New York than in Bern or Zurich. So collectors can improve their chances of acquiring one of his works if they keep an eye on auctions being held in Switzerland and Germany.

Damien Hirst in Doha

18 months after his first retrospective at the Tate Modern in London, Damien HIRST is now to be given a solo exhibition in Qatar (10 October 2013 – 22 January 2014). Entitled “Relics”, it forms part of the Qatar UK 2013, Year of Culture programme set up to showcase bilateral cultural relations between Qatar and the UK.
But the exhibition is unlikely to restore the artist’s prices, which have tumbled by 68.5% since the 2006–2008 speculative madness. The exhibition is being organised under the patronage of Sheikha al-Mayassa, one of the market’s most influential players. The Qatari royal family is one of the world’s major art collectors. As a result, this show should have a positive impact on his sales.Sotheby’s has been active in Doha since 2009 and the auction house will certainly benefit from including Hirst in one of its local sessions. In the first year of Doha operations, three works by Damien Hirst went unsold. The market was simply not ready and the art price bubble had only recently burst. In contrast, last April an installation from his Pharmacy series still managed to sell for $402,000 ($485,000 including buyer’s premium,Untitled A, 22 April 2013), just $2,000 above its low estimate. Perhaps the Qataris will feel more inclined to up their bids once October comes around.