Flash News: My Buenos Aires – Sigg Collection – Gagosian – Nam June Paik

[28 Aug 2015]


Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: My Buenos Aires – Sigg Collection – Gagosian – Nam June Paik

My Buenos Aires: remedy against standardisation
Countdown: there is less than a month left to plunge into My Buenos Aires at the Maison Rouge in Paris (exhibition from June 20 until September 20, 2015), an exhibition devoted to the contemporary Argentinean scene, organised and curated by Paula Aisemberg and Albertine de Galbert. My Buenos Aires continues a series of exhibitions showcasing cities at the Maison Rouge, presenting works imbued with the territory, its history, myths and energy. The exhibition in no way seeks to establish a ranking of Argentinian artists, but rather aims to convey “a sensation, an experience of the dynamics at work in the Argentinian capital.” The attitude of Argentinean artists, starved of infrastructures, turns out to be sarcastic, ironic and exceptionally united. The artist Guillermo David KUITCA illustrates how those who have succeeded provide support for their compatriots. Kuitca, one of the few Argentinians to lead a truly international career, endowed a grant that gave other artists access to a studio together with critical and technical aid. His works are to be seen at major art fairs, like Art Miami, thanks to backing from the prestigious Hauser & Wirth gallery, which moreover is organising a solo show for him in London next year. His auction record was in 2012 with $302,500 paid for Heaven, at Sotheby’s New York (May 10, 2012).
Also included among the few Argentinian artists already known in Europe are Jorge MACCHI and especially Leon FERRARI. The latter achieved a record price at auction within a week after the opening of the exhibition My Buenos Aires: $137,500 for an untitled sculpture in stainless steel of 1978 (Sotheby’s, New York). Scathing in the expression of his anti-religious and anti-military sentiments, and branded a blasphemer, León Ferrari won the Golden Lion for Best Artist 2007 at the 52nd Venice Biennale. His works, represented in major collections including the MoMA in New York, have not soared, and the drawings can be obtained within a price range of $8,000 to $15,000 on average (prices have increased by an average of 30% since his death).

Exhibition of works from the Sigg Collection
Elected “British Museum of the Year 2015”, the Whitworth Museum in Manchester is exhibiting 80 contemporary Chinese works from the famous Sigg Collection (M+ Sigg Collection: Chinese Art from 1970 to now, until September 20, 2015). Considered the leading collector of contemporary Chinese art in the world, the former businessman from Switzerland, Uli Sigg, who was Swiss ambassador to China from 1995 to 1998, became a fervent lover of Chinese art following the death of Mao Zedong (1976), a time when this art was unknown in the West. He subsequently began collecting passionately and diligently, then in 2012, donated nearly 1,500 works to the future M+ museum in Hong Kong (opening in 2019).

The exhibition at the Whitworth museum presents a selection of works destined for the M+ museum, a selection covering 40 years of Chinese creation, from the first subversive work of the 70s, preceding the events in Tiananmen Square (1989). The leading artists are well represented, including AI Weiwei, FANG Lijun, YUE Minjun, ZHANG Xiaogang and WANG Guangyi. For the poster of the event, the Whitworth has chosen the work Family Tree (2000) by Zhang Huan, his famous photographic series drawn from a calligraphic performance. This work, particularly sought-after by all collectors of contemporary Chinese art, reached its record price there less than a year ago in Hong Kong: close to $640,000 (Christie’s Hong Kong, November 22, 2014).

Gagosian now representing Nam June Paik
The Gagosian gallery now handles the work of Nam June PAIK worldwide. This great precursor of video installation, who died in 2006, carried out his first experiments in distortions of images in the late 1950s, by arranging magnets around the cathode ray tube. The majority of his works are television installations, showing extracts of video montage. The Gagosian gallery has made the strategic decision to hold Nam June Paik’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong rather than New York (exhibition from September 17 to November 7, 2015). This is where there is the largest concentration of collectors of this artist of Korean origin. This is also where a record price of nearly $650,000 was attained with the sale of the installation Wright Brothers at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2007. The video art market remains marginal, though the best pieces by Nam June Paik can easily exceed $200,000. Video art has had difficulties breaking through as a specialty on the art market, but work is underway (notably by French auction house Wapler, which hosts sales dedicated exclusively to video art) and new collectors are becoming increasingly interested, and with ever less hesitation.
The positioning of the powerful Gagosian gallery should give a burst of vitality to this developing market segment.