ArtBasel Set to Open Amid Strong Demand for Art as ‘Neutral Currency,’ Short Supply in Classic Names

The Scene at ArtBasel 2013
The Scene at ArtBasel 2013

Katya Kazakina previews Art Basel which opens this week and will be the center of attention for the next few days as the very top end of the art market looks to see what’s out there and available. Kazakina quotes one of her go-to talkers, Philip Hoffman whose business seems to have shifted toward advising Gulf States art investors:

“There’s a lot of wealth looking at the art market,” he said. “It’s a neutral currency.”

Kazakina also reports on the fair’s first sale which takes place ahead of the fair and now removes the work from the fair. (You think this is easy?):

Francis Bacon’s small 1959 portrait, priced at $3.5 million, was set to be among 75 artworks at Chicago- and New York-based Richard Gray Gallery.

Here may be the more interesting observation from Robert Mnuchin whose blue chip gallery is having trouble sourcing material and looking for new names—like Simon Hantai—to deal in:

Robert Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive whose New York gallery specializes in postwar art, will bring a vertical 10-part stack by Donald Judd, valued at about $4.5 million, and a $1.2 million painting by French artist Simon Hantai. Mnuchin will also show works by hot contemporary artists Christopher Wool and Mark Bradford.

Art created in the past 10 to 15 years has become a more important part of Art Basel, said Mnuchin, who’s participating in the fair for 18th time. “Golden oldies are harder and harder for dealers to get,” he said.

Davos of Art World Lures Collectors to $4 Billion Fair (Bloomberg)

ArtBasel Hong Kong Sales Report

Pace Gallery Booth at ArtBasel Hong Kong
Pace Gallery Booth at ArtBasel Hong Kong

Georgina Adam closes the loop on ArtBasel Hong Kong with her own final sales tally:

Michael Hoppen was celebrating, having placed eight Bill Brandt photographs in mainland China on the first day. while Victoria Miro sold two tapestries by Grayson Perry: one to Taiwan and one to the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. Indeed, one of the aspects of the fair this year was an increase in buying by mainland Chinese, and particularly for museums in the second- and third-tier cities. Their names may be unknown to westerners, but these regions have populations in the millions and are looking for art to fill their new museums. Generally, however, dealers reported that such buying tended to be well below US$200,000.

The Art Market: London, Paris and Hong Kong  (Financial Times)

Bloomberg gathered a few more sales at ArtBasel Hong Kong:

  • Hong Kong-based 10 Chancery Lane sold works by Chinese sculptor Wang Keping, and several silk embroideries of old currencies by Beijing-based duo Muchen and Shao Yinong to collectors from Switzerland and the U.S.
  • White Cube sold several millions of dollars worth of art, including a scalpel blade painting depicting an aerial view of Beijing by Damien Hirst to a Chinese collector for 800,000 pounds ($1.3 million), as well as works by Theaster Gates, Christian Marclay and Tracey Emin to regional collectors.
  • James Cohan Gallery sold a painting by Italian artist Francesco Clemente to a “prominent Chinese collector,” said the gallery’s Shanghai director Arthur Solway, while works by New York-based Oscar Murillo, whose auction prices have gained as much as 5,600 percent in two years, also found Chinese buyers at David Zwirner gallery.

Billion Dollar Art Basel Hong Kong Woos Chinese Buyers (Bloomberg)

Artnet had these sales:

[Alan] Lau, who sits on the boards of Tate’s Asia-Pacific acquisition committee and Hong Kong’s respected nonprofit space Para/Site was among the collectors who snapped up several works early. “I bought a lot—I don’t even remember [how much],” he said. Among his acquisitions was an aluminum briefcase by the young Fuxin-born Chinese artist Sun Xun titled The Citizenship Pack (2014), for $13,000, and Chinese painter Yuan Yuan’s Common ground community (2013) for HKD 245,000 ($31,605). Lau said his other purchases included work by Korean artist Haegue Yang and Ai Weiwei, represented by Galerie Chantal Crousel and Galerie Urs Meile, respectively.

“It started off slow,” said Darren Flook, senior director at Max Wigram Gallery. “If you had asked me at 3:30 p.m., I would have been the most depressed man in Southeast Asia, but by 4:30 pm I had champagne in my hand,” Flook’s booth featured a solo presentation of black-and-white photo realist paintings by James White. Max Wigram sold five works, including two large still life scenes for $64,000 each, and two smaller works for $15,000.

The Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI) sold a sculptural paper collage by the much-talked about Filipino artist Ronald Ventura Into the Woods no. 2 (2012) for SGD 125,000 ($99,817) and a work by Do Ho Suh for $15,000 among others. It also closed a sale of Haegue Yang’s Spice Moons (2013). New York City’s Museum of Modern Art purchased the large work made from potent cooking ingredients like turmeric and chili powder for €120,000 ($164,656). Said head of communications and projects Nor Jumaiyah, STPI made “a tidy sum of $153,000” on Wednesday.

Wednesday also saw Upstream Gallery from Amsterdam sell out its booth in the Discoveries section of the fair, a solo presentation featuring hyperrealist drawings by British David Haines. Among the works to go was More than Domes (2014), for $22,000.

By Thursday morning, Edouard Malingue Gallery had sold out its entire booth, a solo presentation featuring four moody and three other works by Yuan Yuan. The largest work went for HKD 600,000 ($77,402).

And London gallery Victoria Miro sold five works on the first day, including the sprawling wool and cotton tapestry Map of Truths and Beliefs (2011) by Grayson Perry; a Taiwanese corporation purchased it for $95,000. The sale followed on the heels of an acquisition of a larger Perry tapestry by the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, the first time the institution had acquired a piece from a Western living artist. Miro also sold a large Idris Khan work for $68,000 to a Hong Kong collector.

New York gallery Lehmann Maupin sold Do Ho Suh’s ethereal blue fabric sculptureSpecimen Series: Medicine Cabinet, 348 West 22nd Street, APT. New York, NY 10011, USA (2013) for $85,000. Among the gallery’s biggest sales was a monumental painting The Guru (2013–2014) by Miami painter Hernan Bas, which was purchased for $350,000 by a collector from Mainland China. Crowd #9 (Sunset Five) (2013), a photograph by American artist Alex Prager was also snapped up by a Mainland Chinese collector for $40,000.

Hauser & Wirth sold Rashid Johnson’s bold mixed media work Eddie (2013), composed of burned red oak flooring and black soap, for $135,000 to a private collection in Brazil.

Tokyo-based Taka Ishii Gallery also sold a large work by Sterling RubyQUILT (4857) (2014), for $85,000.

Sean Kelly Gallery sold three small paintings by Scottish painter Callum Innes for 40,000 ($67,306) each, including Untitled Painting No. 14 (2013).

Galleria d’Arte Maggiore of Bologna sold a number of works by iconic Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico, including the stunning Piazza d’Italia con Arianna (1964) which went for €300,000 ($411,184).

Taipei-based Soka Art Center sold two editions of Taiwanese artist Hsi Shih-Pin’s intricate metal work Symbolic Steed of Memory (2014) for $80,000 each.

Art Basel in Hong Kong a Hit With Asia’s Collectors

The South China Morning Post had this take on the fair:

Fair newcomer Howard Shaw, president and director of New York-based Hammer Galleries, said the gallery made new contacts with interested collectors from Asia. “We don’t always judge a fair simply by the sales we made during the period,” he said. His gallery exhibited paintings by Picasso, Renoir, Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall, with a total value of about US$100 million, and it sold one piece worth more than US$1 million.

Art Basel Hong Kong wows ‘the sophisticated’ (South China Morning Post)

The Wall Street Journal’s SceneAsia had these sales:

Adrian Cheng, executive director of property developers New World Development Company, said he bought 15 art works on the first day alone. The voracious 34-year-old collector is the grandson of Hong Kong jewelry and real-estate tycoon Cheng Yu-tung.

Among Mr. Cheng’s purchases were a $60,000 sculpture by Adrian Villar Rojas from Marian Goodman gallery and a $180,000 painting installation by Carol Bove from David Zwirner. He also bought works by Tony Ziegler and Valerie Snobeck from Simon Lee gallery.

  • Soka Art from Taipei sold a landscape called “Red” by Chinese contemporary oil painter Hong Ling for $600,000.
  • White Cube gallery, an Antony Gormley cast-iron sculpture titled “Rest II” was sold. It had an asking price of almost $420,000.
  • Among the seven works Lisson Gallery sold on the first day were two works by Jason Martin and three pieces by Anish Kapoor. Prices for the works ranged from $67,000 to US$167,000.

Art Basel Sales: Fair Offers Shopping Spree for the Rich (SceneAsia/WSJ)

HK Convention Center

Bloomberg’s Frederick Balfour was busy in Hong Kong gather quotes and sales information:

David Zwirner

Half-way through the VIP preview today New World’s Cheng, followed by a staff of four, had bought 12 works and was on the hunt for more. “The good thing about having a team is you buy something and they negotiate” he said while posing beside a Carol Bove painting he bought from David Zwirner.

Zwirner also brought oil-on-canvas works by 28-year-old Oscar Murillo  […] By mid-afternoon of the preview the gallery had sold three paintings ranging from $75,000 to $180,000 to collectors from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Paul Kasmin

“Art Basel has brought more Europeans and Americans to Hong Kong and Asian collectors are becoming more interested in purchasing western art,” said gallery director Nicholas Olney.
Kasmin sold a newly commissioned work by Indonesia’s best-selling contemporary artist, I Nyoman Masriadi, for $350,000 at the VIP opening

Gajah Gallery

The works of Ashley Bickerton, who quit New York after 12 years to move to Bali in 1993, provide a contemporary twist on Gauguin’s exoticism. A painting of two topless women with silver bodies astride a scooter, garlands in their dreadlocks, is selling for $190,000 by Singapore-based Gajah Gallery. Another work by the artist sold for $160,000 at the preview.

Art Basel Beckons Billionaires With $10,000 Passports (Bloomberg)

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Art Basel in Hong Kong 2014 and © MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AG
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
Art Basel in Hong Kong 2014 and © MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AG

The fair provided the following results:

Day One

Victoria Miro (London)

  • Grayson Perry Map of Truths and Beliefs, 2011, Sold to a major Taiwanese corporation. The price range for Grayson Perry tapestry works is USD 55,000-150,000

Pearl Lam Galleries (Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore)

  • Jenny Holzer, Sold works from the collection on display of new LED works in Chinese. Price range USD 180,000-300,000 

Soka Art (Taipei)

  • Hong Ling, Red, 2013 Sold for USD 600,000
  • Hsi Shih-Pin Symbolic Steed of Memory, 2014, 2 of 3 editions sold USD 80,000 each

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All the Fun of the Fair, Pre-Sold


As Frieze New York opens the VIP sprint from 2007 has been replaced with the pre-sale, according to Charlotte Burns:

“There is no doubt that there is a ton more pre-selling than ever before,” says one major New York-based collector, who asked not to be named. “I am shocked by how many galleries have sent lists of their entire Frieze booth to what must be a whole bunch of their clients. I’ve had tens, if not hundreds, of emails.”

The increase in advance sales is driven by intense competition between galleries to attract collectors, and between collectors to buy works. Work that is fresh to the market is particularly in demand. […]

“When the market is as strong as it is now, it’s hard to find great material, because the second we have it, someone wants it,” says Thaddaeus Ropac (C41). He says that half of the works in his booth are on hold and that he expects to sell them within hours of the fair’s VIP opening. “Major collectors know that access is key to the market today; it is more important than buying power,” he says.

‘Access is key to the market today—it is more important than buying power’ (The Art Newspaper)

AIPAD 2014 Sales Report

AIPAD Photography Show New York 2014

AIPAD Released sales from this year’s show:

“It was a stunning exhibition of a wide range of photography, and the collectors were passionate, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable,” said Kraige Block, Throckmorton Fine Art, New York, who sold more than 20 works including a platinum print by Tina Modotti.

Robert Mann Gallery, New York, sold 20 works by Jeff Brouws, Julie Blackmon, Maroesjka Lavigne, and others, and commented on the great energy at the show. Terry Etherton, Etherton Gallery, Tucson, said the show was excellent and sold 22 works including a Frederick Sommer print for $40,000.

“The show has never looked better,” said Henry Feldstein of Henry Feldstein, Forest Hills, NY, who sold at least 20 prints by Weegee. “The look of the show was consistently high level. We saw many local collectors who are precious clients as well as people from across the U.S. and Europe,” said Richard Moore of Richard Moore Photographs, Oakland, CA, who sold 33 photographs including images by Ansel Adams.

“The show was very positive,” noted Hans Kraus of Hans P. Kraus, Jr., Inc. who sold albumen prints by Eugène Atget for $155,000 and Charles Marville for $30,000.

”It was an outstanding fair for us,” noted Bert Finger, PDNB Gallery, Dallas, who sold work by Elliott Erwitt, Stephen Shore, Nickolas Muray, and Earlie Hudnall Jr.

Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago, sold work by Harry Callahan from $20,000 to $50,000.

Chuck Isaacs of Charles Isaacs Photographs, Inc., New York, said he sold work by Gustave Le Gray, Charles Marville, Eugène Atget, and Berenice Abbott.

Galerie Johannes Faber, Vienna, sold a 1933 portrait of Meret Oppenheim by Man Ray for $45,000.

Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, sold more than 20 prints by Vee Speers and work by Mona Kuhn as well as a number of others.

Martin Weinstein, Weinstein Gallery, Minneapolis, said, “We had a very good fair and sold work by Annie Leibovitz, Vera Lutter, Alec Soth, and Gordon Parks.”

Bryce Wolkowitz, Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, sold work by Edward Burtynsky and several other artists and noted, “The show was great.”

Art Paris 2014 Sales Report by AMA

Art Paris 2014

Our friends at Art Media Agency filed this report from Art Paris:

The 3rd edition of Art Paris Art Fair fair gathered 140 international galleries from 20 different countries, presenting China as Guest of Honour in celebration of 50 years of Franco-Chinese relations. […] Given the fair’s increasingly international perspective (50% of galleries were foreign, in comparison with 43% last year), visitors came from far and wide; nevertheless, the overall results  showed that the vast majority of buyers were European, predominantly French. Sunday 30 March, the final day of the fair, was deemed to be the most successful day in terms of sales.

The fair saw an increase in attendance of 10%, welcoming 58,387 visitors — despite being a day shorter than last year’s edition. The vernissage saw 17,115 visitors pass through the fair’s aisles — a rise of 24%

China’s Guest-of-Honour status perhaps placed the greatest pressure on the “China Platform” to produce results. Generally, gallerists were very pleased:

  • IFA Gallery (Brussels/Shanghai) spoke of encouraging sales from the first day: all 3 works by artist Jiang Shanqing were sold, priced between €10, 000 and 25, 000 each. Overall, the gallery had much better results than last year.
  • M97 Gallery had some further interesting figures: all 5 artists represented by the gallery had at least one sale. Of these, Luo Dan was most popular — all 20 of his works at the stand were sold, ranging between €1,000 and 8, 000 each. As the gallery’s first exhibition in France, it proved to be a definite success.
  • Blindspot Gallery (Hong Kong) was equally happy, whilst Gallery Xin Dong Cheng (Beijing) reported that it received a predominantly western audience.

After the launch of the “Promises” section in 2013, it lived up to its name in its 2nd edition:

  • Muriel Guépin Gallery (New York) sold 3 pieces by Keun Young Park and was particularly pleased to feature on the VIP tour.
  • Feizi Gallery (Brussels, Shanghai) had most success with lower-priced works by Ye Linghan.
  • ON/Gallery (Beijing) and Galerie E.G.P. (Paris/London) were equally satisfied with results.
  • Outside of sales figures, the general consensus amongst gallerists of the “Promises” section was that they gained a tremendous amount of exposure and, as a result, made several invaluable contacts. Galerie Charlot (Paris), Red Zone Galerie d’Arts Contemporains (Geneva), Jiali Gallery (Beijing) and Feizi Gallery (Brussels/Shanghai) all expressed a particular desire to return for next year’s edition of the fair.

The newly rethought “ArtDesign” platform thoroughly picked up in comparison with previous years, proving that design definitely has a place in the world of contemporary art:

  • Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique (Paris) recorded excellent sales figures, confirming that it plans to attend next year’s edition of the fair. Pieces sold ranged between €2,600 and 20,000.
  • Galerie Armel Soyer (Paris) also emphasised its desire to participate in Art Paris Art Fair 2015, due to its success this year. Of notable importance was the sale of Miroir Froissé #2 (2008), by Mathias Kiss, which sold for €30,000.
  • Acabas (Paris) sold three quarters of its stand and also received several orders.

Overall results from galleries who had previously participated in the fair are as follows:

  • A2Z Art Gallery (Ivry-sur-Seine) recorded the fair as its best ever participation.
  • Galerie Claude Lemand (Paris) also had great success: almost all works exhibited — ranging from €10,000 to 300,000 — were sold, with in the region of 5 sales at more than €50,000. Shafic Abboud was notably popular.
  • Galerie Oniris•Florent Paumelle (Rennes) achieved the best sales figures from a fair in 9 years. It sold 5 works by François Morellet, at €50,000 each. Moreover, the gallery noticed truly exceptional interest on the part of collectors.
  • Galerie Vieille du Temple (Paris) recorded the highest sales figures in 7 years, 70% of which were new clients. It sold 40 pieces, each between €1,000 and €25,000.
  • Galerie Zürcher (Paris/New York) revealed its sale of two works by Marc Desgrandchamps, priced between €30,000 and 40,000 each. The gallery also highlighted the important establishment of new contacts during the fair.
  • J. P. Ritsch-Fisch Galerie (Strasburg) confirmed several new clients, among which were 3 new important collectors. Works sold ranged between €1,500 and 75,000.  Michel Nedjar (whose works were sold at under €5,000 each) had particular success.
  • Galerie Christian Berst (Paris) recorded the sale of a rare piece by Eugene von Bruenchenhein —sold for €26,000 — among others.
  • Among notable sales for Galerie Daniel Templon (Paris/Brussels) was Anthony Caro’s sculpture entitled Roll Up (2010).
  • 313 Art Project (Seoul) confirmed it was happy overall but disappointed with results of South-Korean artist Atta Kim. Although the artist sparked a lot of interest, sales were not high, potentially due to the lack of previous exposure in Europe.
  • La Galerie Particulière / Galerie Foucher-Biousse (Paris) sold a Kate Mccgwire sculpture for €60,000.
  • Louise Alexander Gallery (Puerto Cervo) was satisfied with sales, with works sold ranging between €9,000 and 30,000.
  • Helene Bailly Gallery (Paris) sold a Zhang Ding work for €12,000 and also highlighted the introduction of new contacts.
  • Priska Pasquer (Cologne) spoke of the success the gallery had with sales of limited edition, affordable prints by Rudolf Bonvie (over 50 sold).
  • All of the works presented on at galleries Paris-Beijing and Claude Bernard were sold.

Newcomers to the fair obtained the following figures:

  • Un-Spaced (Paris) was very pleased with 30.5% of buyers being new clients. It had an overall turnover of €40,000.
  • Galerie Loft (Paris) was also satisfied, selling works between €2,000 and 80,000 euros. Among its highest-selling works was Qiu Zhijie’s Tattoo 2 (1994), said to have sold somewhere between €20 – 30,000.
  • Galerie Françoise Besson (Lyon) sold 16 pieces, on top of receiving several orders.
  • Galerie Françoise Livinec (Paris, Huelgoat) sold 31 works overall, ranging between €400 and 25, 000. 80% were new clients.
  • Adler Subhashok Gallery (Bangkok) sold, among other works, 9 versions of Manit Sriwanichpoom’s Pink Man.
  • In Camera Galerie (Paris) noted that the work of Russian photographer, Evgenia Arbugaeva, had the most success. The gallery is looking forward to potential sales in the coming weeks.

Sales Report: Art Paris Art Fair 2014 (Art Media Agency)

Drawing Discoveries at an Old Master Fair in Paris

Fra Bartolomeo

Scott Reyburn reports from the Old Master drawings jamboree, Salon du Dessin:

This year, the best included an early 16th-century black chalk study of a kneeling Mary Magdalene by the Florentine High Renaissance artist Fra Bartolomeo. The drawing, a preparatory sketch for an altarpiece still in situ in the church of San Marco in Florence, had been in an English private collection since 1980. It was sold by the London-based dealers Bellinger-Colnaghi to a European collector for just over $1 million during the early hours of the Salon.

An early 19th-century Eugène Delacroix pen-and-ink study of cats’ heads and a male figure was another early sale, bought by a Swiss collector for 28,000 euros, or $38,550, at the booth of the Paris-based dealer Nathalie Motte Masselink, one of 39 dealers exhibiting at the fair.

“The people who come here are just passionate about drawings,” said Ms. Motte Masselink, who named the French movie star Alain Delon among the field’s varied enthusiasts. “There aren’t limits between those who collect contemporary and those who collect Old Masters. And with drawings, you can still make discoveries.”

To prove the point, the Paris dealership Talabardon & Gautier offered a pen-and-ink drawing of St. Paul and other figures, which it had recently identified as the work of the 17th-century artist Anthony van Dyck. Bought at a regional French auction eight months ago, the study was sold to an American museum for €250,000.

On the Art Fair Carousel (