Christie’s Up 9% in 2011; Contemporary Top Category Up 22%; Private Sales Up 44%

Scott Reyburn has first crack at Christie’s 2011 results:
“Investors are entering the market and existing collectors are buying more,” Steven Murphy, Christie’s chief executive, said in an interview. “The ease with which information and images can be accessed through the Internet is also helping create a fundamental increase in demand.”
  • The London-based auction house sold 3.6 billion pounds ($5.7 billion) of art and collectibles last year.
  • Contemporary works were the most lucrative category, contributing 735.7 million pounds at public sales, an increase of 22 percent.
  • Impressionist and modern declined 28 percent to 548.6 million pounds
  • Asian art at 552.9 million pounds, which increased 13 percent in 2011.
  • Private transactions increased 44 percent to 502 million pounds in 2011.
  • New clients represented 12 percent of the value of Christie’s international sales, the auction house said.
  • New York remains the company’s biggest auction center, with 1.2 billion pounds of sales in 2011, 6 percent down on 2010. London, which hosts three series of contemporary-art auctions each year, was up 20 percent to 871.6 million pounds.Growth inHong Kong slowed to 11 percent with 519.1 million pounds of transactions.

Christie’s Sales Surge 9% on Demand for Contemporary Art, Warhol, Picasso (Bloomberg)

Indian Art Fair Final Sales Assessment

Georgina Adam has these sales from Delhi:

  • Continua sold a Daniel Buren for €55,000.
  • Delhi Art Gallery: Laxma Goud’s Untitled, 1973, at $250,000.
  • Hauser & Wirth: a Bharti Kher purple bindi painting, I changed my mind, 2011, tagged at $250,000
  • Lisson: photographs of Marina Abramovic amongst pots and pans [...] priced at €25,000-€160,000, with one sold at €70,000 on the first day.

Neha Kirpal doesn’t have it easy when trying to quantify the success of her fair. First there’s the attendance issue. The fair was moved to another location this year in part to improve the quality of attendance. So reducing the crowds by one third to 80,000 visitors was seen as a key success.

The India Art Fair also needs to show it’s constituency—the art galleries who pay for booths—that it can deliver the kinds of visitors who will buy art, according to India Today:

almost 80 per cent of the galleries sold more than one artwork, going up to as much as 14 works being sold by a single gallery. The stalls did an average business of between 55,000 and 60 lakh per piece, with the higher end of that spectrum settling at Rs. 3 crore  [roughly $1000 to $600k]. While Ravinder Reddy woman sculptures and the Indian modern masters were quick to go, it was photography, videos and installations by emerging artists that did exceptionally well this year, even amongst the traditional collector base.

India Art Fair Looks Poised to Join the Big League (The Art Newspaper)

India Art Fair Hosts Huge Crowds on Final Day (India Today)

Indian Collectors Celebrate 45 Years

A common theme around the Indian art market is the lack of infrastructure upon which the market can build. Although there are few museums in the country, there are a number of collectors. Business Standard describes one such collection that rarely sees the light of public access:

The Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata, which turns 45 this January, is celebrating the occasion with a huge exhibition of a few of the artworks painstakingly collected by Basant Kumar and Sarala Birla, the couple who founded this institution, over a lifetime.

Works collected over 60 years are on display for the first time ever on the four floors of this 11-storey building. The Academy overlooks the vast waterbed of Rabindra Sarobar.

What began in the 1940s as a humble hobby gained momentum over 10 years, to become a gigantic collection that eventually needed to be housed in its own building. “In the beginning, we were buying mostly Western art without realising that Indian art is unparalleled in excellence and that first we have to discover art from India before we go any further,” says Sarala Birla who is also the chairperson of the academy. “So, from the late 1940s we turned our attention to buying mostly Indian art. Those days, pieces of art were cheap and easily obtainable, unlike today. For example, once a month we used to visit Jamini Roy and I recall that once we bought four of his paintings for 500 rupees.”

Inside the Treasury (Business Standard)

Andy to Asia

The Bank of New York Mellon, Christie’s, Bloomberg and the Economist magazine are all joining forces to sponsor the Andy Warhol Museum’s exhibition of work that will tour Asia in commemoration of the artist’s death 25 years ago. The press release doesn’t describe the works that will be included in the show. The presumption is that the works will be drawn from the museum’s holdings:

The exhibition is curated by The Andy Warhol Museum in Warhol’s home town of Pittsburgh. It chronicles the breadth of the artist’s career and demonstrates the extraordinary scope of his interests. It will travel to five Asian cities over 27 months starting at ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, where it will run from 17 March 2012 until 12 August 2012. It will then tour to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing throughout 2013 and end in Tokyo in 2014.

Artnet’s Top Sales of 2011

Artnet wants a share of the online art sales pie. They’re reminding folks of the successes they’ve had over the last year:
  • Andy Warhol snagged first place (not just for unique works, but for all works) with the sale of Flowers for $1.3 million, which was the second highest price for a Warhol flower painting at auction last year. The canvas has flowers in a deep, bright shade of blue and is one of four in the Flowers series dated 1978; the vast majority of these works date to 1964-65.
  • two pictures by Thomas Hart Benton that fetched $198,559 and $143,750. [...] The bigger price was paid for the mythical Ten Pound Hammer(1965), which shows three black men working on railroad tracks with a train steaming in the background. Benton must have liked the image — he released it as a lithograph in 1967 in an edition of 300.
  • A conceptual video sculpture by Nam June Paik sold for $92,000, proving that mixed media works can do well online, too. Polaris (1990) is composed of four televisions arranged like petals around a globe and backlit by concentric neon florescent tubes. It was exhibited in a 2000 survey of the artist’s work at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
  • the checkerboard abstraction Check #9 by Sherrie Levine, sold for $115,000. Levine gained notoriety in the ‘80s when she exhibited her “photographs of photographs” by Walker Evans of desolate farmers during the Great Depression, unaltered and indistinguishable from the originals. Her solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art is just closing now, and her oeuvre seems particularly resonant today with the renewed debates concerning appropriation and copyright infringement in art.

Artnet Auctions 2011 (Artnet)

Art HK 12 by the Numbers

Art HK, Hong Kong’s art fair which recently received a big investment from the team behind ArtBasel, is putting out some numbers to generate interest in the

ART HK 12 Gallery List:

  • 264 is the total number of exhibiting galleries.
  • 180 galleries will exhibit in the Galleries Section.
  • 49 galleries will exhibit as part of ASIA ONE – the section dedicated to solo presentations by Asian artists represented by Asian galleries which will now be divided between the ground and first floor, integrating the section further into the Fair and setting it alongside some of the most prestigious galleries from the West.
  • 35 galleries will exhibit as part of ART FUTURES.
  • 37 territories will be represented in total across the Fair.
  • Galleries exhibiting across the Fair are 53% Asian and 47% Western.

ART HK 12 – List of Participating Galleries

Old Master Market Loses Critical Mass

Colin Gleadell outlines some of Old Master failures last week in New York as tastes shift and the market loses critical mass:

one of the last paintings by Hans Memling in private hands was just too highly estimated at $6 million to find a buyer. A similar fate met a rare painting by the 16th-century mannerist Arcimboldo. Depending on which way up you hang it, it is either a still life of fruit, or a portrait. It sold 10 years ago for $1.4 million, and no one was prepared to meet the new $3 million estimate.

In some cases, sellers who were simply trying to get their money back were disappointed, perhaps because they had paid too much. In 2006, one had paid a record £825,000 – 10 times the estimate – for a still life by the 17th-century Dutch painter Simon Luttichuys. The next year, it appeared at the Maastricht art fair with a $4 million price tag; last week it went unsold with a $1.8 million estimate.

Art sales: $4.1m Martini stirs market (Telegraph)

India Art Fair, A Few More Sales

Smattering of sales from the India Art Fair via the Economist:
  • Hauser & Wirth reportedly sold a small neon sign by Creed that says “Love”, priced at $85,000, and a painting by Subodh Gupta, a leading Indian contemporary artist, for $263,000.
  • Other Criteria reported several sales of Damien Hirst’s silkscreened Psalm prints with diamond dust, which come in runs of 50 and are priced at £3,500 apiece.
  • The Mumbai-based Sakshi Gallery has been negotiating to sell a six-foot-long buffalo-shaped work by Valay Shende, an Indian artist, priced at $40,000. The work is a tribute to the impoverished farmers who have committed suicide in central India in recent years, and consists of thousands of photo-transfers of the farmers’ faces on button-sized steel discs.

A Change Is GonnaCome (Economist)