The Economist pinpoints the Hirst sale as the top of the art market. (Way to go out on a limb.) But finds some good news about what comes next:
If there is one lesson to be learned from the autumn it is that there is still an art market, and you can’t say that anymore about all markets. Demand is there for works of exceptional quality. The challenge will be to persuade sellers who don’t need to sell to continue consigning their very best works.
The Economist is not so impressed with the Old Master offerings in New York later this month. But seems to have a quickeing pulse when it comes to London’s Impressionist and Modern sales.
Just how difficult this will be can be seen from the fact that when asked about the coming sales, both houses ignore the Old-Master sales that will be held in New York at the end of January and focus instead on the Impressionist and modern sales the following month. Sotheby’s, for example, has separated a husband-and-wife pair of portraits by Frans Hals in the hope that they will make more apart than together. “The Portrait of a Man Holding Gloves” is estimated at $8m-12m whereas his much plainer consort, shown in “The Portrait of a Woman Holding a Handkerchief” has been set at $7m-9m. The pictures have been consigned by a New York collector and were recently shown in London as part of a marketing tour. Despite that, both pictures are being talked about by dealers and collectors as “not great Frans Hals”.
The outlook for February is brighter. Christie’s has six works from an important European collection. The consignment, which includes works by Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, Pierre Bonnard and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, is led by a painting by Claude Monet. “Dans la Prairie”, which dates from 1876, was exhibited at the seminal third Impressionist exhibition in Paris in 1877 in Paris. It was painted in Argenteuil, where Monet lived between 1871 and 1878, depicts the artist’s wife, Camille, reclined and reading amongst blooming flowers in an open meadow. It is expected to sell for around £15m. Sotheby’s has a rare work by Amadeo Modigliani dating back to 1913, which has been consigned by a British collector and which has not been seen at auction for nearly 30 years. Part of the “Caryatid” series on which Modigliani worked frequently in drawings, this version in oil has a highly sculptural feel. The estimate has been set at £6m-8m.
The Incredible Shrinking Saleroom (Economist)