Flash News

[20 Sep 2013]


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

Opening soon: Christopher Wool at the Guggenheim, New York

The American artist Christopher WOOL, who sees himself more as a conceptual artist than a painter, is considered one of the most influential artists of our times. Some even call him the greatest American painter of today. For the past two years he has been the focus of large-scale exhibitions, which immediately impact his rating. After his participation in the Venice Biennial and his first major exhibition in France in 2012 (Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 30 March – 19 August), an important retrospective is now shaping up for the autumn in New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (25 October 2013 – 22 January 2014).

At the same time as these impressive current developments, Wool has firmly established himself in the rankings for the top contemporary art bids. In 2010, it is true that he was already close behind Jean-Michel BASQUIAT, CHEN Yifei, Richard PRINCE and Jeff KOONS as a challenger in contemporary painting, but since then his price index has shot up by 317%: an extraordinary performance in three years, and an even more remarkable one in the context of the decade. Few artists can boast of multiplying their prices by twelve in only ten years (+1,200% between 2003 and 2013).

Collectors rush to buy his stencilled words in large capital letters. The visual language is distant and systematic, the lettering is reminiscent of popular culture, there is no punctuation, and the works are deliberately enigmatic. Wool deconstructs traditional painting and all its icons, highlighting its decadence and turning the painted work into a new subversive space. His “word paintings” series, begun in 1987, now draws the highest prices in the auction market. A version of the word Fool in black lettering on a white background from this series holds the artist’s record, $6.8 million (Untitled, £4.35 million, Christie’s, London, 14 February 2012). The same Fool could be bought for $380,000 in 1999 (Untitled (Fool), Christie’s, New York, 19 May 1999). Since then, estimate ranges have always been high in New York. And the opening of the Guggenheim exhibition is hardly likely to dampen this fervour.

Théâtre du monde at La Maison Rouge

Jean-Hubert Martin is the curator for the next exhibition at La Maison Rouge in Paris, which is entitled Théâtre du monde (19 October 2013 – 12 January 2014). Ignoring the usual musicological conventions, he has drawn from both the personal collection of David Walsh, founder of MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Tasmania and the resources of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG). The Théâtre du monde thus contains works from very different backgrounds, including Oceanic tapas, objects from cabinets of curiosities, antiquities, ancient art and works by contemporary artists, including key names like Marina ABRAMOVIĆ, Dinos & Jake CHAPMAN, Wim DELVOYE and Damien HIRST, fast-rising artists like Berlinde DE BRUYCKERE, and others less widely-known, like Sandra VASQUEZ DE LA HORRA.

Berlinde de Bruyckere, one of the “female popes” on show at Avignon (exhibition at the Lambert Collection and the Palais des Papes, 9 June – 11 November 2013) is worth following closely, especially as her drawings and collages change hands for less than $5,000 in the sale room, while her prices are rapidly climbing. For example, her most recent drawing to go under the hammer, Vrouw, a 1988 collage, soared up to $4,290 –doubling its estimate– at Cornette de Saint-Cyr in Brussels (3 June 2013, hammer price of €3,300 after an estimate range of €1,500 – €2,000).

Celebrating 20 years of Art Taipei

Staged by the Taiwan Art Gallery Association since 1992, Art Taipei is the oldest art fair in Asia. This year the fair is taking place from 8 to 11 November at the World Trade Centre in Taipei. The fair is naturally oriented towards Asian creation, but some of the galleries present are building bridges between East and West, like the Amy Li Gallery, Hadrien de Montferrand, Sarthe Gallery and Lehman Maupin. A few heavyweights like Opera Gallery and the Perrotin Gallery will be taking part in the 20th fair. Influence in Taiwan is not to be sneezed at, because like Hangzhou, Singapore and Beijing, the island is a hotbed of collectors in Asia, as well as enjoying a prime location between North and South Asia. It is also established as the fifth global market for contemporary art sales at auction, behind France and ahead of Germany.