Flash News: Yoko Ono – Adrian Villar Rojas – Marian Goodman – Ancient art and Art Nouveau – the past and the future

[11 Sep 2015]


Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: Yoko Ono: “The world’s most famous unknown artist” – Adrian Villar Rojas, Marian Goodman’s rising star – Ancient art and Art Nouveau – the past and the future

Yoko Ono: “The world’s most famous unknown artist”
This quote from Lennon about his spouse sums up well the position of artist Yoko ONO who has waited a long time before seeing her work honoured with a retrospective. Despite her celebrity, it’s only after having blown out 82 candles on her birthday cake the she was finally offered her first major exhibit at MoMA (May–September 2015). The reason is because in 1971 she announced her upcoming exhibit at the illustrious museum to the press, which was an unauthorized performance. Following her institutional launch, in March 2016 the works of the fine artist, musician and peace activist will be transported to the exhibit halls of the Mac de Lyon (Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art) for her first French retrospective. Titled “Lumière” (Light), the exhibit will retrace her path from 1952–2016. Just this once, the work of Yoko Ono will not be reduced to her participation in the Fluxus movement.
From a market standpoint, with 52 sales recorded since 1986, of which nearly 87% were for less than USD 5,000, one can only hope for better days in light of the current affairs revolving around her. While her turnover in 2014 timidly crept past USD 16,000 (excluding engravings), 2015 was far from that, with only one work sold for a little more than USD 2,300 (Colour of the Globe, 24 January 2015 at SBI Art Auction Co, Ltd, Tokyo). Her current record, held since May 2010 by the USD 95,000 sale of Pay It By Trust (1986/87) cannot be denied but pales in comparison to that of a certain Joseph BEUYS, another essential figure in the Fluxus movement (Bett (Cortsett), sold for USD 900,000 on 14 May 2008 at Sotheby’s New York).

Adrian Villar Rojas, Marian Goodman’s rising star
In all of his 35 years, Adrián VILLAR ROJAS has already amassed a CV that would put many artists to shame: dOCUMENTA in Kassel, Venice Biennale, MoMA Ps1 New York, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Guggenheim, Serpentine Gallery, etc. While these gallery exhibits are rare, in 2014 one of his famous installations in clay, Untitled (from the series What fire has brought to me), became his record sale, going home with its buyer for USD 87,000 (including fees). As his installations are generally temporary, this key work in his career was recreated in 2011. The original was thought out and designed in 2008 for his first major solo exhibit Lo que el fuego me trajo (What fire has brought me) at the Ruth Benzacar Gallery (Buenos Aires). It was destroyed, like the majority of his installations, at the end of the event. The work features the debris of normal modern-day objects presented enshrined on a pedestal, as if it were the result of an archaeological excavation. In fossilising the present, he questions what is expensive as well as time, the end of humankind, and the end of art.

In 2015 the artist continues to ride the wave of this prestige. He is the new protégé of the Marian Goodman stable, the gallery which gave him a solo exhibit in New York. Concerning institutions, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm is organising “Fantasma”, his first Scandinavian solo exhibit. Pricewise, while Adrian Villar Rojas is best known for expressing himself through sculpture, this year a more intimate part of his work was heralded: his drawings (winner of the Canson Prize in 2015).

Ancient art and Art Nouveau – the past and the future
More and more often, contemporary art is invited to meddle in the huge strongholds of classical art. Taking advantage of this, the Louvre occasionally proposes that fine artists put their stamp on one or another room of its gigantic palace. But for the 2015 return from summer holidays, the museum has thought of an event of an even larger scale with Une brève histoire de l’avenir, or A Brief History of the Future (24 September 2015–4 January 2016).
This exhibit, directly inspired by the work of the same name by Jacques Attali (appeared in 2006), was organized in collaboration with the Royal Museums of Belgium. Two capitals, two approaches. While the Brussels exhibit broaches, through 70 works, a series of contemporary issues and their short-term evolution, the Musée du Louvre has asked seven artists to work on the history of great civilisations: looking at the past to make out the future.
To best manage the project, the Louvre called on Jean de Loisy, co-commissioner of the exhibit but especially president of Palais de Tokyo, a veritable laboratory of contemporary art in Paris. Among the seven artists commissioned, some names are very well-known, such as AI Weiwei (1957), a Chinese artist very popular right now with his retrospective at the London Royal Academy, the Congolese Chéri SAMBA (1956), and the French Camille HENROT (1978), already honoured with the Marcel Duchamp Prize as well as the Lion d’Argent at the Venice Biennale.
But beside these famous names are four others, still little-known in the French capital. To start, there is Dutch artist Mark MANDERS (1968), also recognised during the Venice Biennale in 2013 and the Egyptian Wael SHAWKY (1971), one of whose works was sold for the first time at public auction year: Cabaret Crusades III, sold for USD 42,700 on 12 February at Sotheby’s Londres. And finally, two artists already seen at Palais de Tokyo: Tomas SARACENO (1973) and Isabelle CORNARO (1974). While the first is known in the second market (he even registered a new record of USD 22,000 on 26 May 2015, at Phillips in New York with his sculpture Flying Garden/Air-Port-City (2008)), the second has never even had her work presented at public auction!
These seven artists have also been asked to create a work showing the future in the past. An ambitious project, equal to the reputation of the Musée du Louvre.