Spear’s Editor Josh Spero has a piece in the London Evening Standard’s magazine about the price inequality between artists who are men and those who are women. Spero rightly leads with the caveat that price is not an indicator of artistic value, there is something to be said for reviewing the landscape.
Spero quotes several observers who say that you cannot remove art or the art market from the rest of society. If women are paid less for the same jobs as men, how would you expect their works to be valued at par?
Before Spero gets to that sensible conclusion, he does dabble with some other explanations like this:
the gaping divide between male and female prices undeniably exists. The art writer Sarah Thornton, who describes herself as a ‘sociologist of art’, was far less restrained: ‘The only country in the world where the most expensive living artist is a woman is Brazil [where the painter Beatriz Milhazes holds the top spot — her work has sold for up to £1.3m for a painting, at Sotheby’s New York in 2012]. Otherwise, the gender disparities in high price are extreme.’ Thornton, who has written a new book on the art world, 33 Artists in 3 Acts, was willing to assign a clear reason for these differences: ‘I have found that women artists are generally less profit-motivated and less willing to up the scale of their production through delegating to assistants.’
Now we are in dangerous territory (not that Thornton stepped any less willingly into it): stereotyping by gender, the suggestion of innately male or female characteristics, desires, motives, means when it comes to making art.
Portrait of inequality: why women in the art world earn less than men (London Evening Standard)
Sotheby’s announces the single owner sale of Latin American art from the collection of Lorenzo Zambrano, the CEO of Cemex, who is selling one of the first Diego Rivera murals ever to appear at auction:
On 24 November 2014 Sotheby’s New York will present the most important collection of Latin American Art ever to appear at auction with A Vision Of Grandeur Masterworks From The Collection Of Lorenzo H. Zambrano. The prestigious single-owner evening sale will offer outstanding works by many of the most famous names in 20th Century Mexican art, including Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Toledo, and Leonora Carrington. The collection was assembled by Lorenzo H. Zambrano, a leading businessman, visionary collector, and generous patron of the arts who meticulously put the group together over several decades. Reflecting the significance of the works being offered, the sale is expected to fetch $30/40 million, by far the highest estimate ever placed on a Latin American Art auction. Highlights will be exhibited in Mexico City, Los Angeles, Miami and New York in the lead up to the sale.
Lorenzo Zambrano was one of Mexico’s leading businessmen. As Chief Executive of Cemex since 1985 he led a series of expansions and acquisitions across the globe to create the biggest cement maker in the Americas. Famously, Mr. Zambrano applied the same methodical and diligent approach he used in business to his collecting. Known as a connoisseur across many fields, as an art collector Mr. Zambrano primarily focused on acquiring the very best works by the mid-century Mexican masters but also encompassed self-portraiture and outstanding paintings by other Latin American artists.
The Zambrano collection is led by Diego Rivera’s Río Juchitán – the first ever mural by the artist to appear at auction (above). The vast scene is spread over four panels and immerses the viewer in the bucolic glory of the Mexican countryside. Dating from circa 1955 Río Juchitán draws heavily on the work of Paul Gauguin and is one of the last late masterpieces of Rivera’s career outside of a museum. Throughout the 1950s Rivera painted many brilliant society portraits, but works such as Río Juchitán show he stayed connected to his roots in working class Mexican society.
Brisk sales to collectors from Europe, the United Kingdom, South America, and the United States on the first day of FIAC.
The preview day started strongly with three new Billy Childish paintings selling within the first hour of the fair for €15,000-25,000 Euros each.
Korean artist Do Ho Suh‘s thread drawing Facing Myself (2014) sold for a range of $8,000-15,000 USD, and a fabric light switch from his New York apartment Specimen Series (2013), sold for a range of $10,000-20,000 USD. Suh’s fabric sculpture of his entire New York apartment is currently featured at The Contemporary Austin in Texas, which runs through January 11, 2015.
Two untitled multimedia works from 2010 and 2012 by Roberto Cuoghi, who recently joined Lehmann Maupin, sold for ranges of €35,000-45,000 Euros, and €30,000-40,000 Euros, respectively. A solo exhibition featuring Coughi’s work recently opened at Le Consortium in Dijon, France.
Kader Attia‘s Reenactment #2 (2014), an oud created from a helmet from the French colonial army, sold in the range of €30,000-40,000 Euros. Attia’s first solo gallery show with Lehmann Maupin in New York, titled Show your injuries, opens November 8th. The artist will also be featured in a solo exhibition at the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp, Belgium, opening October 25th.
Alex Prager‘s film Sunday (2010), part of an edition of 3 which comes in a box set with an archival pigment print and film poster, sold between $15,000-25,000 USD. Prager has a major solo museum show opening November 14th at the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia.
Two new untitled oil skin paintings by Puerto Rican artist Angel Otero, both from 2014, sold in the range of $10,000-20,000 USD. The artist will have a solo show at the Dallas Contemporary in 2015.
Tracey Emin‘s watercolor on paper, Sex 16 25-11-07 Sydney (2007), sold in the range of 10,000-20,000 GBP. Emin will open a major solo exhibition at the Leopold Museum in Vienna in Spring 2015.
We’ve had a good start at FIAC’s new satellite fair – Officielle (Eleven Rivington, Stand A18) in Paris. The Oct. 21 preview turnout was very well attended; and Officielle opening between the end of Frieze in London, and a day ahead of FIAC at Grand Palais meant there were plenty a great collectors already in Paris to attend the preview.
We sold 8 works by NY-based Mika Tajima, priced $12,000 – $28,000 during the first hours of preview, to French, Russian, and American collectors.
Tilton Gallery sold Luca Dellaverson’s seven resin-and-mirrored-glass works within four hours of the opening at €6,000 each ($7,600).
Elizabeth Dee sold two large paintings by the Belgian collective Leo Gabin, reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg’s work, were also snapped up in the first four hours. They were priced between $20,000 and $30,000.
Jocelyn Wolff, the same thing happened with Francisco Tropa. The works included Terra Platonica, made of 24 oil-pastel-on-sommelier drawings, which sold for €17,000 ($21,500).
Laura Bartlett is showing British artist Lydia Gifford. The majority of her works (paintings and a sculpture) made of wood, cotton, oil paint, gesso, and nails, were sold, priced between £3,500 and £15,000 ($5,600–$24,000).
Spruth Magers sold several works by Louise Lawler, including Gallery 6 (2010/12) priced at $60,000, to an American collector. Two untitled Thea Djordjadze works from 2014 went for $28,000 and $12,000, also to Americans. And several pieces by current art world darling Analia Saban were sold on a range from $11,000–40,000.
Victoria Miro capitalized particularly well on the trend, creating three solo-shows in as many rooms within their floor space of Yayoi Kusama, Idris Khan, and Secundino Hernandez. By Thursday afternoon, sales director Elke Seebauer reported that the booth was almost entirely sold out, Kusamas having sold from $160,000–400,000, Hernandezes for up to £30,000, and Khans for between £12,500–115,000.
Michael Werner: Director Harry Scrymgeour said greatest interest had been paid to works by Gianni Piacentino, several of which sold on a range from €150,000–300,000. Further sales of works by Markus Lüpertz, Per Kirkeby, A.R. Penck, Enrico David, and Aaron Curry rounded out a bang-up opening day for the gallery.
Lisson Gallery: a large Anish Kapoor for between £800,000–900,000. Carmen Herrera‘s Dos Mundos (2010) was also quickly snapped up for approximately $200,000.
According to the Quotidien de L’Art, Pinault snapped up a total of 37 works on Wednesday morning, a remarkably large glass sculpture by Roni Horn from Hauser & Wirth’s solo presentation of the artist rumored to be among them.
FIAC is the Art Fair Europe Wants (artnet News)
Plenty of smaller shows were also held during Fiac: one is Chambres à Part, run by art adviser Laurence Dreyfus and featuring works from dealers or ones she’d bought herself. Here again François Pinault was active, buying an installation/sculpture “Arbitrary Embodiment” (2013) by the Los Angeles artist Sean Raspet (around €18,000) from her show, while a Saudi collector fell for Sheila Hick’s pile of sparkly cushions (“Trésors Nomades”, 2014, sold for €140,000).
All’s fair in Fiac week (FT.com)
This Sunday, Carol Vogel has an interview in the New York Times where she learns about Christie’s plans to expand its online sales and broaden the luxury and lifestyle aspect of its website:
Noting the success of luxury retailers like Net-a-Porter, 1stdibs and Gilt, which entice shoppers by showing merchandise in the context of an alluring online environment, Christie’s has hired experts from some of these sites to shape its initiative.
John Auerbach, 36, joined the auction house last year from Gilt to lead its e-commerce efforts. He has watched shoppers spend larger and larger amounts of money at Christie’s online-only sales. Right now, he said, the average price on its site is about $11,000, but in May a buyer purchased a drawing by Richard Serra for $905,000, making it the most expensive online-only purchase for the auction house to date. Competition was stiff. Eight bidders competed for the 2009 abstract drawing, according to Mr. Auerbach.
“People are becoming more comfortable online and buying art from digital images,” he said. “This was a well-known drawing by a famous artist.”
Why go after the online audience? Well, that’s where Christie’s thinks the future lies:
“When you consider that about 71 percent of our e-commerce traffic has come from visitors who are new to Christies.com, and of them 11 percent have gone on to register in regular auctions and 39 percent of these clients bid on pricier merchandise, it’s a pretty compelling picture.
Our research shows that about 53 percent of those who register to bid online are under the age of 45. As for the most popular categories of our online auctions, they are postwar and contemporary art, fashion and photographs, followed by wine and jewelry.”
And these new buyers are drawn to an object in different ways:
Content will be a very big part of the relaunch. Jeremy Langmead from Mr Porter has joined Christie’s and he really knows how to put something in context. For example, we did an Asian porcelain sale that traditionally is marketed to collectors of Asia porcelain, but this time we showed it in situ, meaning in a domestic environment. And we had a whole variety of people who became interested in it, and most of the top lots were bought by new collectors. Over time we will be showing more things in context. The new updated home page will have a dedicated area for online shopping — and again this is all part of that lifestyle positioning.
Christie’s Ramps Up Online-Only Sales (NYTimes.com)
Christie’s announced today that it would be selling the collection of actor Maximilian Schell. Schell had a nice Dubuffet and Franz Kline but his best works were Homage to the Square paintings by Josef Albers:
Born to parents, who fostered close friendships with contemporary painters, Schell started collecting as a young adult and built an impressive collection including works by Paul Klee, Mark Rothko, Jean Dubuffet and, from the early 1970s onwards, Josef Albers. From the moment Maximilian Schell encountered the work of the former member of the Bauhaus group, then teacher of the Black Mountain College and Yale Josef Albers at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York, he was captivated by the artist’s experimentation with color. Josef Albers’ commitment to attaining perfection aligned with Maximilian Schell’s own and, introduced by Sidney Janis, they entered a unique friendship that would last until Albers’ death in 1976. Maximilian Schell, who avoided the fashionable in search of timeless masterpieces, which is rare to meet, amassed a collection of unique quality and integrity, which also became the largest private collection of works by Josef Albers formed during the artist’s lifetime.
Christie’s will offer the 45 works from the Maximilian Schell Estate across five sales during November and December 2014 in Amsterdam, London and Paris.
If you didn’t make it to Frieze, Vernissage TV’s tour of the fair is good way to get a taste of what visitors saw. Although sales were reported, there wasn’t a sense of market frenzy. The same tone seemed to hover over the auctions in London where Italian art created all of the heat and chatter.
So we asked Karolina Prawdzik to put together an overview chart of the Contemporary art sales in London during Frieze week from 2005 to today. What we saw was interesting, especially when we looked beneath the headlines of the evening sale and isolated the Contemporary day sales. Below you’ll see two charts comparing the average price (blue line) with the total sales volume (bars) for the Frieze Contemporary sales overall including Evening and Day sales (first chart) and then just the Day sales (bottom chart.)
The point of isolating the Day sales is to look at the day-to-day business of demand for Contemporary art. As we all know, value congregates in a few pieces by a few artists. The day sales present a broader look at demand.
From these charts you can see that volume and average prices for Day sale material is only now matching or exceeding the peak of 2007. Though the overall market, helped by the high flying Evening sales regained that ground two years ago.
If the Day sale numbers are finally back at 2007 levels, the fever pitch of the market certainly isn’t. For those who want to believe that the art market has entered a new phase, strong numbers amid sober expectations is a good combination.
Sotheby’s has an interesting new take on a perennial problem in the art market, the lack of supply. Unlike other markets, supply in art has two different dimensions. There’s the physical availability of art works which paradoxically becomes more constrained as works become more valuable an therefore dear to their owners. And then there’s the other supply constraint, categories of works and artists that could be valuable to someone but for which there’s an underdeveloped market.
This second category is the one that holds the most promise for dealers and auction houses. Today, Sotheby’s announces a new sale aimed at developing these markets:
Sotheby’s will hold an inaugural 20th Century Art – A Different Perspective sale in London on 12 November 2014, featuring modern art from countries across Europe and around the Mediterranean by artists who have a strong regional following but are not yet part of the international mainstream. Leading the sale is a group of works by artists who were at the forefront of the intellectual avant-garde in Europe between the First and Second World Wars. Their principal occupation was the exploration of non-figurative art and in the pursuit of art’s highest form of purity they decreed that painting must be abstract. The auction, comprising 74 lots, also features a strong selection of early twentieth-century figurative works by artists who had assimilated the tenets of impressionist and cubist painting.
Non-Figurative Art Highlights Include:
· Composition néo-plastique by Dutch artist César Domela, one of the artist’s most significant works and one of the few paintings by Domela from the early 1920s remaining in private hands (estimate: £400,000-600,000, illustrated above).
· Composition no. 56 by German artist Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, painted in 1930 and an anticipation of Op-Art (estimate: £120,000-180,000).
· Three Difficult Absences by Czech artist Mikusláš Medek who set off to find his own very personal and idiosyncratic abstraction (estimate: £40,000-60,000).
Figurative Art Highlights Include:
· Cubist Figure by Otakar Kubin painted in Paris circa 1914 and an important rediscovery from the artist’s Cubist period (estimate: £80,000-120,000).
· Sea by Hungarian artist Károly Ferenczy painted in 1904 and one of only two known sea views (estimate: £80,000-120,000).
· Pfälzische Weinernte (Wine Harvest in The Palatinate) by German artist Max Selvogt, one of a triumvirate of German Impressionists (estimated: £140,000-180,000).
Colin Gleadell has a detailed report on all the action in the Italian market last week in London. The combination of several galleries featuring Italian artists, the growing importance of Castellani on the market and Fontana’s continuing power culminated in record sales at the auctions. But a big part of the story is the dealers: Cardi, Nahmad, Mugrabi and Ben Brown. All are taking stakes in the market:
No Italian sales report would be complete without mention of the latest phenomenon. Paolo Scheggi, who died in 1971 at just 31 years of age, is an artist that few market watchers had spotted until last October, when one of his three-canvas-deep cut-out constructed works sold for £218,000 against a £20,000 estimate in London. Before last week’s auctions, London dealers Robilant + Voena exhibited Scheggi works at their gallery and at the Pavilion of Art & Design fair in London, where they made several sales in the £200,000–500,000 range.
At the auctions, four works by Scheggi were all sold, most at double the estimates. The top price was £422,500, or $677,563, bid over the phone at Sotheby’s against competition from Cardi and Jude Hess for Intersuperficie Blu – Opera 6 (1965). Significantly, another Scheggi in the sale, Intersuperficie Bianca (1964), which sold for double its estimate at £386,500, or $619,830, was underbid by Mugrabi, stalking the territory.
Strong Sales in London for Italian Postwar Market (artnet News)
After a multi-year run that culminated in 2012 with the first sale of one of the paintings from Eric Clapton’s triptych for $34m, the market for Gerhard Richter abstract paintings seems to be showing some weakness. During Monday’s Essl collection sale, the abstract work failed at the podium but was sold shortly after the sale for 20% below the low estimate. Colin Gleadell, writing for artnet’s news service, tried to find the positive in the news:
The sale’s biggest disappointment was the failure of Gerhard Richter’s large abstract Netz (1985), which had been bought in auction at Sotheby’s New York in June 1994 for $308,500 but went unsold. It was sold privately after the sale, Christie’s said, for a premium-inclusive £5.5 million ($8.8 million) against a £7–10 million estimate. While putting a damper on the Richter market, the price still represents a 1,686 percent increase over the 20 years.
According to Mary Romano on Bloomberg, the late sale burst the bubble of confidence surrounding these works. She got this from Phillips’s Michael McGinnis:
“It spooked people and that had an impact on this result,” McGinnis said.
Then, last night, the artist’s U.L. (above) passed. Gleadell points to the consignors having mistaken the market peak for a buying opportunity.
A small Gerhard Richter abstract U.L.(1985) (estimate: £1.5–2 million) attracted no bids. Phillips’ head of sale, Peter Sumner, said the lackluster performance of a large Richter abstract at Christie’s Essl collection sale on Monday could not have helped. The painting had also been on the market in 2012 when it sold at Christie’s London for £612,450 ($978,695).
If Gleadell is right and the failure was a mis-calculation, the two works at Christie’s on tonight—both have not been on the market for a decade—will tell us a lot more about the state of this market. It may be that everyone who wants a Richter abstract already has one. Or expectations about price simply have to be re-calibrated.
Update: Two out of three of the abstracts at Christie’s sold tonight and one was bought in. So, dire predictions didn’t come true and there was a lot of Richter on the market. This slightly earlier work from 1990 sold 10 years after being bought at Phillips returning 5x to the consignor over a ten year period, which isn’t bad.
Although Gerhard Richter’s larger abstracts experienced a few wobbles, his small abstracts were selling like hot cakes last week. One typical example was a 14 by 16 inch painting at Christie’s that had been bought in 1999 for £34,000 and sold for a double estimate £350,000.
And there was another work on paper that sold for slightly more at £374,500:
Young Artists All the Rage at Phillips Sale (artnet News)
Art market news: Italian art flies high (Telegraph)