The rising stars at auction

[01 Sep 2002]

 

Perhaps the best-known of the new generation of artists now selling at public auction are the Young British Artists — »young » in our classification means born after 1960. Having achieved international acclaim, they are now increasingly making an impact on the auction floor. Of the new wave, Jenny SAVILLE has attracted the highest prices for two years now.

With a powerful patron in collector Charles Saatchi, and after a landmark Sensation exhibition at the London Royal Academy (1997) and Brooklyn Museum of Art (1999), the British avant-garde can now hold their own against contemporary American artists in the New York auction rooms. At the end of the first 2002 season, 5 out of the 10 top-priced artists were British. Jenny SAVILLE, Damien HIRST and Rachel WHITEREAD had already sent the reputation of new contemporary British art soaring last year, when they respectively fetched the top three hammer prices for current production. A painting by Jenny SAVILLE, Branded, commanded the highest price of the season, selling for almost USD420,000. In May 2002, prices hit a fresh high when another of her paintings, Figure 11.23, estimated at USD150,000–200,000, was knocked down at USD480,000. As for Damien HIRST, in 1992 his first installation offered at auction, God, failed to find a buyer at GBP4,000. In 1998 it went for GBP170,000. But even though his price level has climbed 325% since 1997, almost a quarter of his lots have been bought in this year.

In the first half of 2002, excellent results at auction brought two Japanese artists into the limelight. At Christie’s, a monumental Takashi MURAKAMI sculpture, inspired by popular Japanese culture and comic book art (manga), with an estimated price of USD80,000–120,000, was knocked down at USD380,000 on 15 May 2002. But the same day at Sotheby’s, collectors —obviously more excited by the media potential of sculpture— were left cold by a similarly-priced huge painting by the same artist. In a totally different style, the cult images of the image-conscious Mariko MORI are also increasingly popular at auction. The huge photograph auctioned for USD140,000 by Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg confirms the public’s enthusiasm for this young Japanese icon.

Turning to the US, John CURRIN is our second ranking new contemporary artist.

Though his paintings are still rarely seen on the secondary market, they are increasingly prized. In 1996, his first work to come up for auction fetched USD13,000. Three years later, the price for a similar work had tripled. And in May 2002 the hammer came down on Entertaining Mr. Acker Bilk at no less than USD380,000. One of this work’s provenances was the Saatchi Gallery in London.

 

TOP 10 of the most important hammer price for current artist* Ranking by artist of the 10 highest hammer prices realized at auction between january and june 2002                                                                            *artists born after 1960          

Hammer Price

Artiste

Titre

Technique

Place of sale 

EUR 526 752

Jenny SAVILLE         (1970, U.K.)

Figure 11.23 (1997)

Oil/Canvas

New-York
May 14. 2002

EUR 421 078

John CURRIN               (1962, U.S.A.)

Entertaining Mr. Acker Bilk (1995)

Oil/Canvas

New-York
May 15. 2002

EUR 421 078

Takashi MURAKAMI      (1962, Japan)

Hiopon (1997)

Sculpture

New-York
May 15. 2002

EUR 244 215

Damien HIRST         (1965, U.K.)

Sometimes I avoid People (1991)

Construction

London
Feb. 07. 2002

EUR 175 168

Rachel WHITEREAD     (1963, U.K.)

Slab (Plug) (1994)

Sculpture

New-York
May. 13. 2002

EUR 153 272

Mariko MORI              (1967, Japan)

Red lights (1994)

Photography

New-York
May 13. 2002

EUR 131 688

Thomas DEMAND        (1964, Germany)

Wand (Mural) (1999)

Photography

New-York
May 14. 2002

EUR 120 714

Chris OFILI                  (1968, U.K.)

Untitled (1998)

Acrylic

New-York
May 14. 2002

EUR 116 700

Bertha Menzler PEYTON  (1965, U.S.A)

Matthew (1997)

Oil/Canvas

London
June 27. 2002

EUR 110 764

Gary HUME                 (1962, U.K.)

Tony Blackburn (1993)

Painting

London
Feb. 06. 2002

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