This artist's market report for the 2016 Frieze sales was prepared in part with data gathered and charts created by Athena Art Finance. This report is available to AMMpro subscribers. Subscriptions come with a one-month grace period. Feel free to register to read the report and, if you don't like it, cancel your subscription before you are charged.
The market for Lucio Fontana, the prolific Argentine artist who spent the most important part of his career in Italy, peaked last year during the October Italian sales when 26 works were offered and 21 sold for a combined total of £36.6m. With a large body of work—the slashes—that is both easily recognizable and was created in a seemingly endless variation of color and slashes, Fontana looked to be riding a wave of interest in Italian abstract artists to become a market-driving figure, a bellwether of the global Contemporary art market.
This year, Fontana had 27% fewer works on offer. More important to his market, there was dearth of major works like the black La Fine di Dio that accounted for 45% of 2015's total sale. Overall, the Italian sales in London were off by 50%. Where the 2015 sales made £83.6m, 2016 could only muster £42m in sales composed of works by lesser known artists.
Fontana was eclipsed by Alberto Burri in total sterling volume and saw Enrico Castellani post results that were 60% of his total. Comparing Fontana's results year-over-year, the £36.6m of 2015 had shrunk to £8.64m in 2016. The Italian sales were down by 50% but Fontana's market for the October sales cycle in London was off by more than 75%.
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