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ArtMarket® Insight - what's trending on the art market

Artprice's Latest Report

ArtMarket® Insight contents

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Europe leads the art market [15 Feb 2004]

In the first half of 1999, US auctioneers handled more than 64% of art market turnover. Three years later, in 2002, after some excellent London sales in July—including Sotheby’s GBP 45 million for The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens on the 10th—the UK and US were running neck and neck in terms of turnover. At the time, this exceptional state of affairs was put down to a few spectacular sales in Britain and a chill economic climate in America. But the exception now seems to have become the rule

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2003: an action-packed year [28 Jan 2004]

The price of artworks rose by 1.5% in 2003.

The talk in 2003 was all about crisis—impending, overstated or avoided. This lent the market a jittery tone that was not helped when the war in Iraq revived painful memories of the 1990-1991 crash.The post-Gulf War period in 1991 was marked by an absence of records. Investors at the time read this as meaning the market had run out of steam, and promptly jumped ship. Worse still, 1991 was no short-lived blip. Instead the market went into an agonising downward spiral that lasted almost five years. So what happened this time around?

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Could we see a USD 70 million Picasso? Dream or reality? [25 Jan 2004]

A mood of optimism has been sweeping through the market since the beginning of the season. The most astonishing forecast for 2004 is that Picasso’s Garçon à la pipe is expected to set a new record of USD 70 million on 5 May at Sotheby’s.What could possibly justify such a high estimate?

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Painting: highlights of 2003 [20 Jan 2004]

2003 was a bad year for the art market’s most prestigious medium. Average prices for paintings fell substantially, particularly in the most popular segments (modern and 19th century paintings), while sales volumes also declined — even at the top end of the market.

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Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985): works on paper [18 Jan 2004]

Thanks to his massive output, Marc Chagall has more works sold at auction than any artist except Pablo Picasso. The most developed segment remains his works on paper representing almost 95% of the lots sold.

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Animal sculptures stampede upward [14 Jan 2004]

The booming sculpture market of 1997-2003 brought an explosion in the prices of certain sculptors, including Rembrandt BUGATTI (+317%), Charles VALTON (+217%) and Édouard Marcel SANDOZ (+93%). Their gains were typical of the renewed market interest in animal sculpture.

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Photographs: highlights of 2003 [13 Jan 2004]

After making spectacular gains in the 1990s, the photography market is now facing an unprecedented crisis. The areas suffering the most are those previously most successful, i.e. old and contemporary works. The speculative bubble that buoyed them for five years has just burst and only quality pieces are now finding a buyer.

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Sculpture: highlights of 2003 [12 Jan 2004]

Three-dimensional works escaped the slump in sales that afflicted most of the art market in 2002 but are now suffering from a lack of liquidity. Fewer big name pieces seem to be coming onto the market. That said, prices are soaring.

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What estimates mean to the market [12 Jan 2004]

The success of an auction depends, of course, on the selection of works for sale, but also on a correct price estimate for each lot. In practice, however, only one out of every five lots sold at auction is knocked down within its estimated range. This suggests that for consignors, auctions usually bring either pleasant surprises or dashed hopes.

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Chuck Close (1940) [06 Jan 2004]

This year the Metropolitan Museum of Art will house a major travelling exhibition of his prints, entitled “Chuck Close Prints: process and collaboration”. The artist’s new record has helped stimulate the uptrend, and print prices are also heading up again.

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A spate of records among English drawings and watercolourists [22 Dec 2003]

Drawings have always been a sound first step for budding collectors in the UK and they look a particularly good bet now, with British works showing spectacular price gains at auction on the back of big price rises for the lesser known artists.

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American Impressionism in decline in 2003 [18 Dec 2003]

An offshoot of French Impressionism, American Impressionism emerged in the 1880s with the works of Charles Curran and Ben Foster. The movement numbers some 60 artists. Its most celebrated exponents include Childe HASSAM of Boston, who was inspired by urban subjects, and the portraitists Mary CASSATT and John Singer SARGENT.

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The greenback’s slide saves the US art market [15 Dec 2003]

The dollar’s value has fallen by 17% against the euro and 8.6% against sterling since December 2002, in a slide generally attributed to the yawning deficit in the US balance of payments. The effect has been to stimulate American exports while limiting imports and this has had a big impact on the US art market. Trends and turnover on the global art market tend to correlate closely with exchange rates.

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The Nouveaux Réalistes: auction prices take off [10 Dec 2003]

The artists lauded by critic Pierre Restany were in great demand at Piasa on 4 December 2003. All lots were sold, often going for more than their estimates, which was good news after several lacklustre weeks for the French market and confirms that many growth segments of the market remain strong.

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Christie’s rounds off 2003 with auctions of old master drawings in Paris and Rome [09 Dec 2003]

If the price of an old master drawing depends mainly on its origin and state of preservation, then investors are in for a treat. Christie’s is putting up drawings from the collection of one of the great 18th century collectors, the Marquis of Calvière, in Paris on 17 December.

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Alexander Calder (1898-1976) [04 Dec 2003]

Christie’s has just set a new record for a sculpture by Alexander Calder. However, it is his works on paper that are the main focus of the price surge.

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DELACROIX, Eugène (1798-1863) [30 Nov 2003]

The market is still teeming with Délacroix drawings and sketches, mostly from his travels in Morocco and Algeria.

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Photojournalism given a rough ride at auction [27 Nov 2003]

Third time around must have been too much. This was the third year running that Thierry de Maigret had played host to collectors of photojournalism. His initial sale on 15 November 2001 was a first in the genre, and took EUR 250,000, with 124 lots finding buyers.

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Djazaïr: French orientalists honoured during Algeria Year [25 Nov 2003]

France has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cultural events to celebrate Algeria Year, which include three major exhibitions of orientalist art: « De Delacroix à Renoir, l’Algérie des peintres », at the Arab World Institute (until 18 January 2004), « Fantaisies du Harem et nouvelles Schéhérazade » at Lyon’s Natural History Museum (until 4 January 2004) and « De Delacroix à Matisse – Dessins du musée des Beaux-Arts d’Alger » at the Louvre (until 19 January 2004).

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International contemporary art driven by Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg [23 Nov 2003]

The contemporary art market has been doing fairly well of late, and the last big auctions of the year have reaffirmed the trend. The wealthiest US investors are continuing to support new art. Record after record has been falling in New York, and not only for American artists.

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Gloomy times for impressionists while modernists triumph [16 Nov 2003]

The US art market was in fine form at the Impressionism and Modern Art evening sales. Thanks to a number of wealthy American bidders, several major lots went for more than their high estimates. A healthy 75 of 102 lots put up found buyers on the evenings of 4 and 5 November, and total turnover was USD 216 million.

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Edward Weston (1886-1958) [06 Nov 2003]

New record for Edward Weston confirms 137% price surge for the master of modern American photography.

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James Rosenquist (1933) [29 Oct 2003]

Rosenquist has one of the lowest price indexes among pop artists. The retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum might create renewed interest.

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New York under the spotlight [22 Oct 2003]

The evenings of 4 and 5 November see two of the biggest media events of the year: the eagerly awaited New York Impressionist & Modern Art sales. The art market is generally having a thin time, but is the same true at the very top end? We will find out when we see how the world’s wealthiest collectors receive the exceptional pieces on the stands in New York.

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Edouard Manet (1832 – 1883) [21 Oct 2003]

After many years in the doldrums, the overall price index of Edouard Manet is up by 66% since the start of the year.

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Testing times for photography [15 Oct 2003]

While few segments of the art market have escaped the current depression some are being especially hard hit. This is particularly true of photography. After riding the speculative wave of 1997-2001, prices have crashed since the start of the year. The crisis is all the more striking as it comes straight after a boom in the sector.

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Symbolism: strongly-contrasting price fluctuations in a multi-faceted movement. [09 Oct 2003]

Around 1890, in a reaction against impressionism and the creeping materialism of the industrial revolution, a new pictorial language began to emerge across Europe, symbolism. Not content with reproducing the real world, the symbolists broke away from narrative and landscape art and its canons, and sought to connect with their viewers’ sensitivity through shapes and colours. Prices for their work have risen steadily in the past 10 years (+116% between 1992 and June 2003), but the diverse personalities and nationalities making up the symbolism movement is reflected in a wide variation in prices.

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Art Market Alert III [08 Oct 2003]

Finding a niche in a declining market.

Collectors are being bombarded with offers aimed at reviving the current sluggish market. But the figures tell a different story. The buy-in ratio over the last six months has averaged 37% and auction houses are increasingly struggling to fill their catalogues. By 23 September, only 185 fine art sales had been announced for October 2003 compared to 263 a year earlier.

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Art market alert II: A string of black Septembers [06 Oct 2003]

First volumes slumped and then prices. For the third consecutive year, September 2003 has brought a crisis. But unlike previous years, this one seems here to stay. Can the market still recover?

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Keith Haring (1958 – 1990) [29 Sep 2003]

Haring was one of the leading lights of American graffiti. His prices rose steadily in the 1990s but recent months have seen a decline.

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