Flash News: Herb Ritts – David Bowie / Collector – William Kentridge exhibition in London

[22 Sep 2016]

Herb Ritts under the spotlight…

Work by one of fashion photography’s major figures, the Californian Herb RITTS (1952-2002), is on show in a retrospective exhibition at the Maison Européenne de la photographie in Paris until 30 October 2016. A master in exalting body lines and skin textures, Herb Ritts brought sensuality and finely composed sophistication into the photographic discipline. Inspired by some of the greatest masters of photography, he actively collected works by Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Edward Curtis, Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange, Edward Steichen and his friend Helmut Newton.
Herb Ritts’ career started with a portrait of a Hollywood star, the young actor Richard Gere. Rapidly integrating the world of 1980s and 1990s celebrities, Ritts worked with the leading “supermodels” of his time, including Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell, producing lots of images of naked sculptural bodies. His personal Mona Lisa is a 1989 photograph of 5 supermodels huddled together on his porch (Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana and Naomi, Hollywood, 1989) and it remained his most iconic and sought-after cliché on the market for many years. Ten years ago (between 2006 and 2007) the price of this photograph doubled from $54,000 to $109,000. Following this surge, Ritts’ prices slipped back a little for a few years, but they have recently picked up again. In May 2015 his “Versace Dress, Back View, El Mirage” (1990 ed. 9/12) fetched an new auction record of $246,000, ($100,000 above the high estimate) at Phillips in London.

David Bowie / Collector

As a young man David BOWIE (1947-2016) studied art and design and was a keen painter. In later years the British pop-rock icon developed his sources of inspiration and eclecticism through a dense and joyous art collection including works by some of the world’s major artists (Marcel DUCHAMP, Damien HIRSTFrank AUERBACH and Henry MOORE amongst others). But Bowie wasn’t just interested in big names; he also collected Outsider art, Contemporary African art and Design, including works by Ettore SOTTSASS and the Memphis group. Part of his collection will be auctioned on 10 and 11 November at Sotheby’s in London. Organized over two days, the three sessions will offer approximately 400 highly varied works with an overall estimated value of 10 million pounds ($13 million) one third of which is expected to come from a large canvas (Air Power 1984) by Jean-Michel BASQUIAT. The highlight of the sale, Bowie acquired Basquiat’s Air Power (167.5 x 157.5 cm) while playing the role of Andy Warhol in Julian Schnabel’s biopic on Basquiat in 1996. The painting fetched $107,000 at Christie’s London on 30 November 1995 and is expected to fetch between 4 and 7 million dollars in November.

William Kentridge exhibition in London

A major exponent of video installations, the South African artist William KENTRIDGE (1955) will be at the Whitechapel Gallery in London until 15 January 2017. Born in apartheid Johannesburg in 1955, the Kentridge graduated in Fine Arts in Johannesburg, but originally started his career as an actor after studying at the Paris acting school of Jacques Lecoq. His vocation as an artist came later and he produced his first “animated film” in 1989 with a technique that has characterized his work ever since: filming modifications of a charcoal drawing on the same sheet of paper with the moving image retaining traces of past images in sequences that depict political, poetical and allegorical narratives.

In 2010 a retrospective exhibition at New York’s MoMA and then the Jeu de Paume and the Louvre in Paris substantially boosted Kentridge’s market prices and the following year saw a particularly decisive result on 11 May 2011 when his Preparing the flute tripled its high estimate, fetching $602,500 at Sotheby’s in New York. That result put Kentridge on the podium for the best results in the video art field . In one year, his auction turnover grew by 40% and it continued to grow through 2014. Although his market appears to have contracted for two years, the London exhibition will no doubt revive interest in his work with six contemplative and immersive installations. It may even re-activate secondary market exchanges in London or elsewhere. In fact, Kentridge’s market is not confined to Britain; it is also active in South Africa (which is rarely mentioned) where no less than 41% of the artist’s turnover is hammered (between Johannesburg and Cape Town).