The rising stars at auction : latest trends

[03 Jun 2004]


Artprice surveys the rising stars of a generation of artists that are as likely to send a frisson through the auction rooms as Picasso, Renoir or Van Gogh. Sometimes now topping a million dollars, the prices commanded by young generations of artists, have recently begun to rival those of established auction stars — »young » in our classification means born after 1960.

ArtistHammer price / workSale1. Jean-Michel BASQUIAT (1960-1988)USD 5 000 000 : Profit I (1982)14/05/2002 (Christie’s, New-York)2. Maurizio CATTELAN (1960)USD 1 850 000 : The Ballad of Trotsky (1996)12/05/2004 (Sotheby’s, New-York)3. Damien HIRST (1965)USD 1 050 000 : Something Solid beneath the Surface […] (2001)13/11/2003 (Phillips, De P & L, New-York)4. Takashi MURAKAMI (1962)USD 550 000 : Flower Ball (3-R) (2002)12/05/2004 (Sotheby’s, New-York)5. Jenny SAVILLE (1970)USD 480 000 : Figure 11.23 (1997)14/05/2002 (Christie’s, New-York)6. Rachel WHITEREAD (1963)USD 420 000 : Untitled (1995)12/05/2004 (Sotheby’s, New-York)7. John CURRIN (1962)USD 380 000 : Entertaining Mr. Acker Bilk (1995)15/05/2002 (Sotheby’s, New-York)8. Matthew BARNEY(1967)USD 350 000 : Cremaster 4 (1994-1995)19/05/1999 (Christie’s, New-York)9. Gary HUME (1962)GBP 170 000 : Love Loves Unlovable (1994)08/02/2001 (Christie’s, London)10. Chris OFILI (1968)USD 211 500 : «Foxy Roxy» (1997)14/05/2001 (Phillips, New-York)

8 of the Top 10 selling contemporary artists are from English-speaking countries, and promoted by such prestigious art galleries as Gagosian, Anthony d’Offay, Saatchi, Sonnabend, Sperone Westwater, etc. The other two are the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and Takashi Murakami of Japan. The previous records of both were beaten at the May 2004 contemporary art auctions in New York. Cattelan ranks second on our list thanks to his The Ballad of Trosky which fetched USD 1.85 million. The American Jean-Michel Basquiat still ranks number one, a position he has occupied since 14 May 2002 when his Profit I sold for USD 5 million.

Perhaps the best-known of the new generation of artists now selling at public auction are the Young British Artists. Having achieved international acclaim, they are now increasingly making an impact on the auction floor. 5 out of the 10 top-priced young artists are British. While the current records of Chris Ofili, Gary Hume and Jenny Saville were set at least two years ago, those of Damien HIRST and Rachel Whiteread are very recent. Rachel Whiteread beat her previous record on 12 May this year when a 1992 installation went under the hammer for USD 420,000 at Sotheby’s. And a major Damien Hirst installation was sold in November 2003 for over a million dollars.

Practically all the record sales have been in New York, home to most of the collectors of young contemporary artists that can compete in million plus bidding rounds. This explains the high number of American and British artists in the Top 10. The more active a country’s market, the greater the chance of getting their home-grown artists onto the list.