In Carol Vogel’s recent story announcing Gagosian’s show—and prospective sale —of 10 works by Willem de Kooning curated by John Elderfield, the reporter suggests Gagosian’s show has the potential to super-charge the market for late de Koonings much in the same way that the Modernist master’s landscapes from the 1970s suddenly took off when competing Russian collectors sought them out in the early phases of the last market peak. But De Koonings from the 1980s have been on the Evening sale block fairly often since the artist’s retrospective at MoMA—organized by Elderfield—brought about a near universal re-appraisal of the works.
How the fall show could affect the market for late de Koonings is anyone’s guess. In 2009, after John Richardson, Picasso’s biographer (and a consultant to the Gagosian Gallery), organized a show of late Picasso paintings, a rash of other late works by him began appearing at auction, becoming more popular and increasingly more expensive.
Indeed, Gagosian’s Mousquetero show that John Richardson put together was not the beginning of the trend of increasing prices for the artist’s previously dismissed late work. It was the culmination of a public and private sale process that had begun half a decade and more earlier. This observation takes nothing away from Gagosian’s singular ability to bridge the gap between the market and museums. Nonetheless, the process by which works are revalued is more diffused and less coordinated than is presented here.
10 Late de Kooning Works to Go on View, and on Sale (New York Times)