This week on the art market

[14 Feb 2012]


The opening of ARCO Madrid, the Impressionist and Modern London sales, the death of Antoni Tapies and Mike Kelley : Artprice wraps up this week on the art market.

Impressionist and Modern Art sales
After the announcement of an exceptional 2011 in auction terms ($11.57 billion in annual revenue, up $2 billion vs. 2010) and strong purchase intentions (Artprice’s AMCI on the rise), art market participants have been further reassured by good results from London’s Impressionist & Modern Art sales. On 7 February Christie’s posted £125.4 million from 90 lots offered and 13% unsold and the following day Sotheby’s posted £69.2 million from 53 lots offered and 22.6% unsold. The combined total low estimate of the two auctioneers was £164 million. Their actual combined revenue total amounted to £203.4m, up 28% versus the combined total from same sales in 2011.
Among the new records recorded after the two days of sales: Henry MOORE’s superb bronze Reclining Figure : Festival fetched £17m ($26.8m) blithely tripling its high estimate; Joan MIRO’s very rare museum quality picture-poem, with the surrealist title Le corps de ma brune puisque je l’aime comme ma chatte habillée en vert salade comme de la grêle c’est pareil, fetched a final bid of £15m ($23.5m) after a superb auction battle at Christie’s (initial estimate of £6m – £9m), and the most stunning Robert DELAUNAYTour Eiffel (1926) ever presented at auction, with particularly dynamic simultaneous contrasts, fetched £3.3m ($5.2m), £800,000 above its high estimate, at Christie’s.

Spain hosts Contemporary Art this week with ARCO, Art Madrid and JustMad
Spain has long been relegated to a side-line role on the global art market, but this week Madrid will become its capital with the ARCO fair running from 15 to 19 February. Spain’s largest art fair both in number of exhibitors (160 galleries from 28 countries) and number of visitors (150,000 in 2011), ARCO is celebrating its 31st edition. Two other satellite fairs offer an alternative to art collectors with the 7th edition of Art Madrid (58 galleries at the Crystal Pavilion, 16 – 19 February) and the third edition of JustMad.
While Spanish artists are still highly appreciated on the art market – Pablo PICASSO was the 4th highest ranked artist in the 2011 global artists revenue ranking and Miquel BARCELO was 9th in the Top 10 Contemporary artists, in 2011, Spain was the 20th marketplace in the global art market, overtaken notably by South Africa, Singapore and even Turkey.
Spain accounts for less than 0.3% of global auction sales and of the 15,000 lots that went to auction in 2011 in the Iberian Peninsula, none fetched more than $380,000!
In 2001, when ARCO celebrated its 20th edition, Madrid was the 12th marketplace on the global art map, so unsurprisingly ARCO will be seeking to correct this negative trend over the coming week.

Bye Bye Mike Kelley
The American artist Mike KELLEY died on 31 January aged 57.
Less known for his videos (only three have been auctioned) than for his installations, paintings or photographs, the young Californian marked the Contemporary American scene where he obtained a legitimate and international recognition: his work was the subject of retrospectives at the Whitney Museum in New York in 1993, the Tate Liverpool in the UK in 2004 and the Louvre in 2006.
His notoriety is also reflected on the secondary market. Much in demand, his price index soared by 272.58% between 2003 and 2008. He also signed the best result for an installation entitled «Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites» which fetched a remarkable $2.7 million at Phillips de Pury in New York on 26 November 2006.
In recent months, his secondary market accelerated rapidly with the sale between May and November 2011 of three works each consisting of several cibachromes that climbed to above $700,000, raising the artist’s price index by no less than 453.68% between 2010 and 2011.
While 91% of his sales revenue is generated on American soil with 79% of transactions, the UK and Germany shared 16% of his transactions (13% and 3% respectively).

Antony Tapiès – Reinventing matter
Painter and sculptor Antoni TAPIES, one of the greatest figures of 20th century art, died on February 6, 2012. Born in 1923 in Barcelona, Tapiès gained international recognition in the late 1950s. Exhibited in major museums around the world, the work of Tapies was associated with other big names such as Joan Miro and Salvador DALI (both Catalan as well) and the Surrealist movement in general.
He was one of the first artists to use materials known as « poor » long before the concept of Arte Povera became fashionable. A politically active citizen, he participated in the resistance against the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in the 1960s.
Tapiès’ work became very popular as of the late 80s with auction results exceeding $100,000. In February 2010, Christie’s London signed the artist’s best result at £850,000 ($1.3m) for his Blanc amb signe vermellós (White with Reddish Sign).
Despite his excellent artistic and historical stature, between 1997 and 2011, 90% of Tapiès’ work sold for less than $27,000. We would expect to see very substantial upside on the value of his works (and new records) over the coming year.