Flash News

[14 Jun 2013]


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

The female Popes of Avignon

According to mediaeval legend, Pope Joan, elected in Avignon in the 9th century, acceded to the papacy by hiding the fact that she was a woman. Taking her celebrated destiny as a starting point, Eric Mézil, director of the Collection Lambert in Avignon (France) has chosen five women artists as five female popes of modern and contemporary art: Camille CLAUDEL, Louise BOURGEOIS, Berlinde DE BRUYCKERE (this year representing Belgium at the 55th Venice Biennial), Kiki SMITH and Jana STERBAK, who are now being exhibited together at the Collection Lambert and the Palais des Papes (the exhibition runs from 9th June to 11th November), with 150 sculptures, paintings and installations.
The youngest leading light is the Belgian artist Berlinde de Bruyckere, who attracted international attention ten years ago when she participated in the Venice Biennial for the first time in 2003. At that time, she exhibited the disturbing figure of the horribly deformed, glistening-skinned Black Horse. Since then, demand has rocketed to such an extent that her work K 36 The Black Horse of 2003 achieved the record price of $426,303 (£270,000) at Christie’s London on 14 February 2012. At 48, she has become one of the top-rated European artists of her generation – even topping Kiki Smith (an American artist born in Germany), though the latter is ten years older than her (record hammer price of $250 000 for the sculpture Butterfly, sold at Christie’s New York on 10 May 2006).

Mariko Mori’s Butterfly

As part of the 55th Contemporary Art Biennial, La Fenice is premiering the new production of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly (21 June 2013). The staging and costumes are by the Japanese artist Mariko MORI, who makes artful play with dress design and performance. The former model became known through photographs in which she dressed up as a futuristic manga character, conveying to a few fantasies of contemporary Japanese society along the way.

She first ventured into the sales rooms with her first series of photographs at the end of the 90s. The first work to brave the auction rooms was the cibachrome Love Hotel, immediately snapped up at $17,000 excluding buyer’s premium (i.e. $19,550 including premium: 20 November 1997, Sotheby’s, New York). Three years later, the same work went for $50,000, again under Sotheby’s hammer (i.e. $58,250 including buyer’s premium, on 15 November 2000) before seeing its price divided by seven in 2009, when it sold for $7,000 (14 May 2009, Christie’s New York). After a spectacular ascent, Mariko Mori’s auction prices collapsed, and her market has been moribund for the last five years. Madame Butterfly offers the artist a splendid showcase in the heart of the Venice Biennial, which is sure to do her rating a power of good.

Opening soon: James Turrel at the Guggenheim

On 21 June, while Mariko Mori produces her latest creations in Venice, the long-awaited exhibition by James Turrel is opening at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
James TURRELL expresses himself with the immaterial, the light; time and space. No matter! Art lovers and the market always find a few pieces to get their teeth into. They are few and far between, it’s true: only 120 lots have been offered at auction since 1991, and they often consist of prints (nearly 42% of lots). Nevertheless, a few illuminated installations can be collected in public sales, like the historical piece Ondoe Blue (1968) sold for the equivalent of $367,000 under Sotheby’s hammer on 12 October 2007 (£180,000). While the finest pieces on offer at auction justifiably achieve six-figure results, if your budget won’t stretch to a work by this artist, you could opt for an aquatint – often obtainableaffordable for under $2,000.