Flash News: Giovanni Anselmo – Barbara Hepworth – Art Basel

[26 Jun 2015]


Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: Giovanni Anselmo honoured by the market at last. Barbara Hepworth – Sculpture for a modern world. Art Basel in a state of grace.

Giovanni Anselmo honoured by the market at last
The museum of modern and contemporary art in Saint-Etienne is hosting several exhibits, one of which is dedicated to master of Arte Povera Giovanni ANSELMO (through 3 January 2016). Anselmo is among 12 historic Arte Povera artists, along with Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Mario and Marisa Merz, Pino Pascali, Giulio Paolini, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Gilberto Zorio. He participated in all the group exhibits of the movement and benefited from large solo exhibits in museums such as Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris modern art museum, 1985) and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (2002). In addition to those he showed his work in Italy during the 44th Venice Biennale (1990).
His radical work, based on a concept of energy involving the balance and tension between diverse elements, testifies to the intuitive manner of the life cycle and man’s place in the natural world and the cosmos. The work is powerful. Here is yet another exhibit to testify to Anselmo’s reserved side. While the New York gallery Marian Goodman dedicated an exhibit to him last year as well (October-December 2014), works in circulation are rare nevertheless: fewer than 50 pieces have appeared at auction during 25 years… This offering, undernourished by an artist so essential to art history, achieved a stunning record on 13 May 2015 in New York: Torsion (1968) which sold for less than USD 450,000 10 years ago, soared to more than USD 6.4m including fees, or eight times the upper estimate. And for good reason, as Torsion is one of Anselmo’s first important works, a powerful work on the tension of materials and precarious balance of things. It was necessary to wait until the artist’s 81st year for his popularity to finally catch up to his renown.

Barbara Hepworth. Sculpture for a modern world
La sculpture pour un monde moderne (Sculpture for a modern world) – this is the subtitle joined to the name of British artist Barbara HEPWORTH to introduce her retrospective at the Tate Britain in London (from 24 June to 25 October 2015). Considered the female alter-ego of her compatriot Henry MOORE in the history of sculpture, she is beginning to gain the same level of market recognition. Ten years of patience were needed before her highest record (reached last year) caught up with that of Moore at nearly one million. Barbara Hepworth peaks at USD 7m including fees (Figure for Landscape, edition 6/7, Christie’s London on 26 May 2014) and Moore rose to USD 8.4m (Three-piece reclining Figure: draped, edition 7/7, Sotheby’s New York, 4 November 2004). For a unique piece from Moore, it’s an entirely different story, with USD 30m spent in 2012 for Reclining Figure: Festival (Christie’s, London, 7 February 2012).

The good news – other than the fact that half the great lady’s works can be had for less than USD 5,000 – is that Barbara Hepworth’s popularity is still being built, that her progression is commensurate with her talent (with a price index up +400 % since 2000) and that the current exhibit at Tate Britain will give even more of a boost to the already conquered London market. London is where 61% of her market is found. Collectors of free-form take note…

Art Basel in a state of grace
The small Swiss village of Basel was the art market capital for a few days, with a 46th premier edition, lauded as the best yet by certain exhibitors. Here are a few figures and key names for a gathering outside the norm…
This year’s exhibitors were composed of the best of galleries and artists, with 284 exhibitors from 33 countries, celebrating nearly 4,000 artists in their stands. A dense offering to meet the insatiable demand of nearly 100,000 visitors who came from around the world. The wealthiest collectors on the planet were part of the inner circle, accompanied by representatives from 80 museums and institutions, all of whom entered into the true spirit of acquisition. Thus the most qualified possible audience was there, facing the most expensive works on the market. The most expensive, but not necessarily the most daring, as the most prestigious stands mainly displayed 20th century classics, such as Robert Rauschenberg, Max Beckmann, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Yves Klein, René Magritte, Pablo Picasso, Egon Schiele, Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys. The Art Basel prize was a perfect fit for the best sales of Mark ROTHKO (the gallery Helly Nahmad presented a work priced at USD 50m), Keith HARING (gallery Skarstedt sold a large canvas for approximately USD 5m), and Marlene DUMAS (gallery David Zwirner sold a 2002 work the first day for USD 3.5m). Fair director Marc Spiegler announced an overall value of 2 billion dollars for the works presented at the fair, a significant part of the market as the United Kingdom accounts for between USD 2 and 2.8m during a full year of auction sales (2013 and 2014 results).

All the artists listed in this article: