The New York Times Profiles Marlene Dumas as living female painter who fetched the highest price at auction.
Strange timing to be profiling Dumas who had her moment on the auction market some three years ago. But the story serves as a solid reminder in the run-up to the London sales that we live in an age of micro-markets where a painter will see their work have a two-year rise in value.
Here is how author Deborah Solomon describes Dumas’s own spin on the secondary market:
For all their moral gravity, Dumas’s paintings have led a separate, rather flashy existence in the more commercial precincts of the art world. In February 2005, at Christie’s in London, “The Teacher (sub a)” (1987) — a large, horizontal group portrait that turns a sentiment-laden class picture from her own childhood into a bruising reflection on authority — sold for $3.34 million. Virtually overnight, Dumas became “the world’s most expensive living female artist,” as the blogs reported, a status she maintained for one year, until Louise Bourgeois sold a sculpture for $4 million and captured the top-art-girl crown.
“The Teacher (sub a),” as it turns out, was purchased by the Acquavella Galleries, which occupies a stately town house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and, three years later, still owns the painting. “We bought it for ourselves,” Nick Acquavella, who is 30, told me, explaining that he and his art-dealing father attended the auction not to bid on behalf of a client but rather in the hope of adding Dumas’s painting to the family collection, which abounds with Picassos, Giacomettis and other staples of European modernism. “It is difficult to find Marlene’s work on the market,” he said. “She is not very prolific, and most of her work is in European collections where people don’t want to sell.”
Figuring Marlene Dumas (The New York Times)