Colin Gleadell looks at the market appreciation of Josef Albers’s 2400-work Homage to the Square series. Some of these works will be on view in London at David Zwirner this Winter. The series’s size, variations and abstract appeal give it the potential to be like Gerhard Richter’s abstracts (though on a much lower price scale) or Damien Hirst’s spots. Gleadell also points out there is a catalogue raisonnée coming to give buyers more confidence:
Every year now, between 20 and 50 Albers paintings surface at auction. The highest price, for a 48-inch-square work, one of only 20 that are not in museums, is $2.2 million.
Zwirner takes over the estate from Leslie Waddington whose collection was recently sold at Christie’s and Albers Homage to the Square works sold particularly well to LA dealer Stefan Simchowitz.
Gleadell details some of the strong appreciation in recent years. But the future of this series will require geometric progression, not the arithmetic progression shown here:
Waddington was always a presence at the auctions. In 2006 he pushed another bidder to pay a then record $822,500 for the 32-inch-square red Signal. And he was always selling them at art fairs. At Art Basel Miami Beach in 2004 he had no less than six, and sold them all, so he will be a hard act for Zwirner to follow.
What can be said is that, since Zwirner took over the estate, there has been no softening of the market. A grey painting Whisper which Waddington bought in 2006 for $284,500, sold in New York last May for $682,000, and a 40-inch-square yellow painting, Midsummer, bought four years ago $813,000, sold for $1.4 million.