Top 10 Hard-to-Find Artists III – Modern Art

[07 Aug 2015]


Fridays are the best! Every other Friday, Artprice offers you a themed auction ranking. This week’s ranking reveals the 10 best hard-to-find modern artists of the year at auction.

Modern artists are characterized by a transition period of change and awareness, which is illustrated in their artwork. The originality of this ranking, which unsurprisingly includes two of the greatest avant-gardists of the Western world, Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935) and Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), is its diversity, as it includes nationalities ranging from Austria to China, including Egypt, India the Philippines, France and the United States. It also includes three female artists, which are usually ranked lower than their male counterparts.

Top 10 Hard-to-Find Artists III – Modern Art
Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Kasimir Sevrinovitch MALEVICH $29,970,600 Suprematism, 18th Construction (1915) 2015-06-24 Sotheby’s LONDRES
2 Amrita SHER-GIL $2,425,000 Untitled (Self-Portrait) (1933) 2015-03-18 Sotheby’s NEW YORK NY
3 Amrita SHER-GIL $2,301,000 Untitled (Self Portrait) (1931) 2015-06-10 Christie’s LONDRES
4 WANG Qi $1,500,000 Set of Four Famille-Rose \Eight Immortals\” panels 2015-03-18 Sotheby’s NEW YORK NY
5 Carlos FRANCISCO $1,096,500 Muslim Betrothal (1958) 2015-04-04 Sotheby’s HONG KONG
6 Erika Giovanna KLIEN $709,830 Lokomotive (Locomotive) (1926) 2015-06-24 Sotheby’s LONDRES
7 Carlos FRANCISCO $420,850 Camote Diggers (Mag Lolang Nag Bubungkal ng Lupa) 2015-06-13 Leon Gallery MAKATI CITY
8 Marcel DUCHAMP $352,640 Miroir (1964) 2015-06-03 Sotheby’s PARIS
9 Hamed OWAIS $280,000 Homat al Hayat (The Protector of Life) (1967-1968) 2015-03-18 Christie’s DUBAÏ
10 Florence Ada FULLER $180,113 Weary (1888) 2015-04-28 Sotheby’s WOOLLAHRA, SYDNEY NSW
copyright © 2015

Wang Qi (1884-1943) – Newcomer to the high-end market

New on the auction market (since 2013), Wang Qi represents the rising interest in Chinese modern artists. This artist just accessed the pantheon of millionaires at auction, following an auction that took place during the Asia week in March 2015, not in Hong Kong or Beijing, but in New York. Sotheby’s was selling an outstanding set of four drawings. Estimated at $700,000 at most, it was sold for $1.8m fees included! Wang Qi is one of the founders of the Chinese Yueman hui movement (Full Moon Society), to which used to include eight of the best porcelain artists, the full moon nights, after the fall of the Qing dynasty. Wang Qi challenged the traditional techniques, especially by incorporating western influences to his work.

Francisco Carlos (1913-1968) – The personification of modernity in the Philippines

Better known under the name of Botong, Francisco Carlos was a muralist and is considered the national artist of the Philippines. Born to a modest family and trained in Fine Arts at the Philippines, he became passionate about the history and customs of his country, researched the literature and painted daily life scenes. His market is where his artwork is: in Asia, especially in Hong Kong (69% of the market), where he just obtained his personal best. Botong exceeded the one million threshold at auction for the first time, with a 1958 oil painting depicting a Muslim wedding (Muslim Betrothal), a tradition practiced by the Tausug tribe in the Philippines. Its dynamic and complex composition and its rich-coloured palette make this outstanding work one of the best known paintings of this artist… which explains why his record has doubled in three years.

Hamed Owais (1919-2011) – the most sought-after Egyptian in Dubai

Hamed Owais embodies the awakening of the modern art market in the United Arab Emirates. He imposed himself as an important painter in Egypt, a pioneer, founder of the Modern Art Group in 1947. Influenced by Picasso, Matisse and the Fauves, firmly rejecting Surrealism, his artwork depicts the social realities of his time, especially the Egyptian working class: peasants, fishermen, factory workers, artisans, hairdressers, traders, etc. In 1956, Owais received the Guggenheim International Award, but despite this award his artwork was not successful internationally during his lifetime. He died in 2011 at the age of 92, and his artwork was auctioned at Christie’s Dubai three years later and immediately earned very good results. His record currently peaks at $557,000, with a political and popular theme (Nasser and the nationalization of the Canal, sold on December 21, 2014). Until now, only three works have yielded a lively auction, which have bolstered Hamed Owais’s renown.
The ranking’s three female artists
Erika Giovanna Klien (1900-1957)

A graduate of the University of Applied Arts in Vienna (Austria) class of 1925, Erika Giovanna was influenced by the theories of ornamental shapes, Cubism, Futurism and Suprematism, and her artwork is a synthesis of various European avant-gardists, which gave rise to a trend called Kinétisme. Her work immediately received a lot of praise, first with a big exhibition at the Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925, then during the International Exhibition of Modern Art in New York in 1927. In 1929, the young artist left for the United States full of hope. She received American citizenship in 1938 and spent the rest of her life there. She was more successful as a teacher than as an artist… This changed in the 2000s, when the art market regained interest in her work. She attained her personal record in 2015, with $859,000 disbursed for Lokomotive (Locomotive), an oil painting from 1926 mixing the best of Cubist and Futurist influences, in typical modern theme which was a pretext to the movement.

Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941)

A major figure in Indian modernity. Amrita Sher-Gil made a strong impression. She was active at the key moment of the arrival of the British to India, a time when traditional Indian values were mistreated. Everything was changing then: the lifestyle, the usual landmarks, etc. Art was changing also; the traditional teaching in schools was replaced by another education system set up by the British government. Few Indian artists found their way in this nebula… The young Amrita Sher-Gil succeeds thanks to her dual background (she was born in Budapest in 1913 and studied in Europe). She died at 28 years old and left behind a limited production that is rarely found in auction (16 works offered for sale in 25 years). Known throughout the world, the price of her artwork is rising today both India and New York. In the first half 2015, two of her paintings have exceeded $2 million, including beautiful self-portrait of 1933 sold at a record $2,92 million.

Florence Ada Fuller (1867-1946)

South African artist born in Australia Florence Ada Fuller, had a rhythmic life: she began her art studies in Australia and subsequently became a teacher, and then lived in France and England for ten years. She studied at the Académie Julian, where she was a student of William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Raphael Collin. Her career started in the late nineteenth century, first with her entrance at the Paris Salon in 1895, and then with the presentation of La Glaneuse at the Royal Academy in London in 1897. Respected throughout her lifetime, Fuller was represented by four galleries (three in Australia and one in South Africa), which was rare for a female artist at the time. She is now bolstered by the revival of the Australian market and has just recorded the first serious award: $219,000 Weary, at Sotheby’s in Sydney. Her style is as attractive for European enthusiasts, and her rating may rise with greater offers at auction.