Melanie Gerlis returns to the FT’s weekend art market column with a brief reminder of the conflicting interests of artists and their galleries and the market itself. Gerlis’s case in point is a new show at Michael Werner of Hurvin Anderson’s work that will open in November.
Anderson has been just the kind of artist that auctioneers have been putting in the first few lots of their Contemporary sales to get the market’s juices flowing. That’s because the buyers outnumber the sellers and the artist’s gallery prefers to place work with collectors and institutions that will burnish his reputation long term.
He produces relatively few works that are selectively sold, so when they come to auction there is a clamour. In 2014, Charles Saatchi sold his barbershop “Afrosheen” (2009) for the artist’s record £1.3m (with premium), against a presale estimate of between £300,000 and £500,000. His dealers have resisted the urge to raise his primary market prices as dramatically, largely, they say, to keep his paintings accessible to museums and other institutions — which in turn creates more untapped private demand. The new paintings in the Michael Werner show will be priced around $350,000, if you can get your hands on one.