The BBC News and their arts correspondent, Will Gompertz, put together a very sloppy radio piece on the Picasso ceramics market. The story repeats a number of mistaken ideas about how works of art are priced. (You should listen an identify the mistakes yourself.) But there’s no doubt the story is correct that the Picasso ceramics market is gaining momentum.
Christie’s isn’t the only player in this space but the auction house has taken the lead with specialist sales built around the category. This week they achieved a very strong price of nearly £1m for one of the large vases, not in the ceramics sale but in the Impressionist and Modern day sale. That was a record for the ceramics. Sotheby’s followed with a record for a set of silver plates.
The question isn’t why Picasso’s ceramics are cheaper than his paintings (or his drawings, for that matter) but why there’s a strong market for the ceramics in the first place. Is it crowding in as buyers prefer something with a stellar name and greater fungibility in the market place? Or is a broader interest in works of art? Are the Chinese buying ceramics by Picasso because they have a greater appreciation of the medium? Anyone care to venture a guess?