Flash News : Il Veronese – Paul Gauguin – The Louvre Abu Dhabi

[21 Mar 2014]

 

Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: Il Veronese – Paul Gauguin – The Louvre Abu Dhabi

Veronese at the National Gallery (19 March -15 June 2014)

A Veronese exhibition opened this week at the National Gallery in London. This is a first in the UK, as his works are extremely difficult to attribute and transport. This retrospective is significant because as we know, Paolo Caliari, aka IL VERONESE (1528-88), is one of the three leading Venetian artists of the 16th century along with TIZIANO VECELLIO and Jacopo ROBUSTI. This time, forty works have been brought together, ten of which come from the National Gallery collections. They include religious and mythological subjects, history paintings and portraits, providing an opportunity to grasp the impressive diversity of his work and appreciate all its subtleties. Though highly popular in his day, this magnificent colourist with the Mannerist touch was often disregarded by critics at the time. He is a key artist in the great history of European art, but though he left some exceptional works, they seem underrated in comparison with the spectacular prices now commanded by contemporary art stars. The most expensive Veronese sold at auction in the last 30 years went for $2.6 million (Cupid disarmed by Venus, 10 January 1990, Christie’s New York), while Jeff Koons, for example, has already done better on 43 occasions, with a top price of $52 million. It’s a sign of the times that the wealthiest new players are more interested in their contemporaries than historical masters. But it means that some of Veronese’s paintings can still be bought for less than $100,000 and a few drawings for less than $30,000.

Gauguin: Metamorphoses at the MoMA

As well as Veronese in London, March features another rare and outstanding exhibition with Paul GAUGUIN at the New York Museum of Modern Art (8 March – 8 June 2014). The exhibition focuses on prints and transfer drawings and their relationship to his better-known works on canvas and sculptures. It contains 150 works, including 120 on paper. Gauguin began working as a self-taught painter in 1874. Five years later, Pissaro initiated him into Impressionist techniques, and introduced him to his group. In search of primeval purity, the artist withdrew for a time to Brittany, where he painted and produced a number of ceramic works. He went then to Arles – the scene of a stormy episode with Vincent Van Gogh – before returning to Paris for a while to work on zinc etchings, and travelled further in France before leaving for Papeete in 1891.

He stayed there for two years, went back to Paris, where he learned wood engraving, and returned to Tahiti for good in 1895. This is where he produced his most powerful works, including his best monotypes and woodcuts. Three of the monotypes he produced on the island have already topped the $500,000 mark since 1994, the most expensive achieving $767,800 – over $923,000 including the buyer’s premium (Crouching Tahitian Woman Seen from the Back, c.1901/02, £480,000, 30 March 2011, Sotheby’s London). This high price acclaimed a highly original work, on which the artist drew. The MoMA exhibition may have a further effect on supply: six prints have already gone to auction (between 5 February and 6 March 2014).

Birth of a museum

From 2 May to 28 July 2014, the Louvre Paris is exhibiting around a hundred works recently bought by the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The first group of acquisitions reveals an eclectic choice in terms of both geography and history, ranging from antiquity to living artists, as the aim is to build up a « universal museum ». As might be expected, the Paris exhibition features outstanding names like Gauguin, Piet MONDRIAAN, Alexander CALDER and Cy TWOMBLY. The Louvre Abu Dhabi project arose from an agreement made in 2007 by France and the United Arab Emirates, which has bought the right to use the name « Louvre » for 30 years and six months. Since the project kicked off, the United Arab Emirates has already acquired 400 major works: operations that considerably stimulated the art market between 2007 and 2013, particularly at auction, as it has an annual purchasing budget of some $55 million over ten years. The birth of this major museum looks set to push the market ever higher until 2017. Work on the Louvre Abu Dhabi began in 2010, with an opening scheduled for late 2015 in a setting designed by Jean Nouvel on Saadiyat Island, just outside Abu Dhabi. At this point, 900 works will be on show, including 300 loaned by French museums for ten years.