French Contemporary Artists

[14 Oct 2011]


Every fortnight Artprice provides you with a new or updated ranking in its Alternate-Friday Top Series. The theme of today’s TOP article is the 10 best auction results generated by French Contemporary artists in the period October 2010 – October 2011.

With the 38th edition of the FIAC starting on 20 October 2011, Contemporary art will take centre stage in Paris next week. Ahead of this event, we have compiled a ranking of the 10 best auction results since October 2010 for French Contemporary artists.

TOP 10 : the 10 best auction results generated by French Contemporary artists in the period October 2010 – October 2011

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Jules DE BALINCOURT $285 462 The People that Play and… 10/14/2010 (Christie’s London)
2 Jules DE BALINCOURT $255 696 Think Globally Act Locally 06/29/2011 (Christie’s London)
3 Richard ORLINSKI $197 722 Wild Lady (2010) 05/15/2011 (Cannes Encheres)
4 PIERRE & GILLES $186 199 Le petit jardinier Didier 05/30/2011 (Christie’s Paris)
5 Richard ORLINSKI $145 761 David (2009) 12/18/2010 (Cannes Encheres)
6 Gérard RANCINAN $111 432 Hypothese les Trois Graces 10/24/2010 (Cornette de Saint Cyr Paris)
7 MR BRAINWASH $98 325 Einstein (2010) 10/14/2010 (Phillips de Pury & Co London)
8 Richard TEXIER $97 131 Le secret du philosophe 05/31/2011 (Christie’s Paris)
9 Jules DE BALINCOURT $96 660 Untitled (Lake) (2007) 02/17/2011 (Christie’s London)
10 Kader ATTIA $90 761 Sans titre (spider web) 06/08/2011 (Pierre Berge & A. Bruxelles)

French artists who sell well abroad…
Jules de Balincourt
Jules DE BALINCOURT, the best Contemporary French auction performer in 2010, has not sold a single work in France since his first auction appearance in 2007. This Frenchman who lives in the United States generated three sales above the $96,000 threshold between October 2010 and October 2011, two of which gave him the top two positions in this ranking: two wood panel oil paintings went for more than their high estimates: the first for £180,000 ($285,462) at Christie’s London on 14/10/2010 – i.e. £80,000 above its high estimate, and the second for £160,000 ($255,696) at Christie’s London on 29/06/2011. We find de Balincourt again in 9th place with a result of £60,000 ($96,660) for a wood-panel oil painting – Untitled (Lake)– at Christie’s London on 17/02/2011.
Aged 39, born in Paris and working in Brooklyn, de Balincourt has exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, at the PS1 and at the MoMA under his belt. Jules de Balincourt’s price index has benefited not just from his London-Paris-New York exposure, but also from the support of Charles Saatchi who was one of his first buyers.
Jules de Balincourt will be represented this year at the FIAC by the Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery.

Pierre & Gilles
The PIERRE & GILLES duo consists of photographer Pierre Commoy and painter Gilles Blanchard. The duo will be represented at the FIAC by the gallery Jérôme de Noirmont. This year they are in 4th place with a new auction record of €130,000 ($186,199) for a photograph entitled Le petit jardinier _ Didier (estimated €25,000 – €35,000) established on 30 May 2011 at Christie’s Paris, their best auction record.
Although Pierre & Gilles generate 44% of the auction sales revenue in the United States from 32% of their lots sold, France represents the larger share of their transactions (38%), generating 26% of their total auction revenue.

Mr Brainwash
MR BRAINWASH (pseudonym for pour Thierry Guetta) is in 7th place with a result of £62,000 ($98,325) for Einstein at Phillips de Pury’s London branch on 14/10/2010, his second best-ever result.After a very successful year with his Charlie Chaplin Pink fetching $100,000 on 14 May 2010 at Phillips de Pury in New York, the artist has since generated 4 results above $28,000.
French by nationality but living in Los Angeles, Mr Brainwash was projected into the limelight of the Contemporary art scene by Banksy’s documentary film Exit Through The Gift Shop. However he has no auction history in France. Only London, New York, and recently Stockholm have proposed public sales of his work.

Kader Attia
Kader ATTIA has also made a remarkable entry to the auction scene. His installation Flying Rats, containing 150 live pigeons nibbling away at sculptures of children made of foam and grain, generated considerable controversy when it was presented at the 2005 Lyon Biennial but sold at Christie’s New York for $75,000 (€57,000) in February 2007. On 8 June 2011, the artist generated a new personal auction record for an installation Sans titre (spider web) consisting of 450 metal handcuffs and 40 folded umbrellas. This single edition work fetched $90,761 (€62,000) at Pierre Berge & Associés in Brussels. The secondary market for this artist is nevertheless still very limited with only 10 works sold via auction since 2007.
Attia will be represented at the FIAC this year by the Continua, Goodman Gallery and Krinzinger galleries.

…and those who sell mainly in France:

Richard Orlinski
Ranked second best-selling contemporary French artist in France in 2010, Richard ORLINSKI has two places in the top with two huge Born Wild sculptures: the superb Wild Lady (70 x 185 x 40cm), representing a modern Venus wearing only cut-off jeans standing in the mouth of a crocodile which fetched €140,000 ($197,722) at Cannes Auctions Ltd. (15 May 2011), doubled its low estimate. And a modern-day David standing more than two meters high, stripped to the waist with prominent muscles, and a pair of unbuttoned denim shorts showing a red and white D&G underpants, which soared to €110,000 ($145,761) on 18 December 2010 at Cannes Auctions LLC.
While his secondary market is active in France and Belgium, his work is also exhibited in many international galleries (Opera Gallery, Gallery Zimmermann & Heitmann, among others) and he has participated in major events such as the FIAC in 2006 and the Venice Biennial in 2007.

Gérard Rancinan
Gérard RANCINAN was the fourth most sold contemporary French artist in France in 2010.
Born in 1953, the artist became known in the field of photo-journalism. After a first result of €5,500 in June 2006, Rancinan signed an auction record in October 2010 for a diasec entitled hypothese les trois graces (2010) from his Hypothesis series which fetched double its low estimate at €80,000 ($111,432) when it was presented at Cornette de Saint Cyr, Paris.
Although 97% of his transactions take place on French soil, his works have found their way into private and museum collections of Contemporary art such the Contemporary Art Museum in Barcelona. He also has many exhibitions to his credit: the Palais de Tokyo in November 2009, the Louvre in 2010 and, between September 2011 and March 2012, the Opera Gallery will be exhibiting his work successively in London, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Richard Texier
Works by Richard TEXIER today feature in major collections around the world (Taipei National Museum, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris …). Although he is well-established on the secondary market, 99% of his auction transactions occur in his home country. A single result, but a record result was struck in China on 20 January 2008 at the equivalent of $414,900 for his bronze Mimesis Deus (Artcurial China, Shanghai) and it remains the artist’s current record. Since then, he has had only one result above €50,000! On May 31, 2011, a hand-shaped bronze made in 2002 entitled Le secret du philosophe (that Daniel Pennac talked about in his book Richard Texier: From the abundance at the Zenith, Paris,2004) fetched €68,000 ($97,131) against an estimate of €35,000 – €45,000 at Christie’s in Paris.

There are no French artists in the global ranking of the ten most successful Contemporary artists at auction. In fact the highest-ranked French artist in the global ranking is in 145th place: Robert COMBAS (Artprice’s Top 500 Contemporary artists 2010/2011). Only French artists studying, living or exhibiting regularly in London or the U.S. manage to impose themselves on the global market. The success of the Franco-American Louise BOURGEOIS is a perfect example. She built her artistic career in New York and lived there most of her life. Five years of million-dollar sales in Manhattan were necessary before she obtained her first 6-figure result in Paris (Spider, 27 May 2008).