Colin Gleadell identified the collectors behind Christie’s Arte Povera sale as Nerio and Marina Fossati but the real interest is in guessing what the sale of 109 works will do to the market that has already seen a ten-fold rise in volume and 4x increase in average price over the last 17 years.
Gleadell writes, “according to research conducted by Artnet, trade is bubbling along. The number of works by Arte Povera artists sold at auction has leapt from 35 in 1997, with an average price of $19,000 (£11,600), to nearly 300 last year, with an average of more than $85,000 (£51,700).”
When you think of it, that’s fairly low compared to many other categories. Here’s Gleadell:
In response to the slick commercialism of Pop Art, the artists – the best known of whom are Mario Merz, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Alighiero Boetti and Pino Pascali – used industrial, organic and ephemeral materials such as coal, textiles and vegetables. Buyers, at first, were few and far between.
Over the years, with wealthy collectors such as François Pinault and Ydessa Hendeles in Toronto taking an interest, things have changed, though Arte Povera is still not what is called “high end”. In spite of numerous exhibitions, only three of the artists have sold for more than £1 million and none for as much as £2 million.
As London dealer Ben Brown says: “The market for Arte Povera is not hot or speculative. It’s actually been quite tough at auction, driven by a few committed collectors. The price for a masterpiece by one of the artists is pretty reasonable compared with other areas of the market.”
Which only goes to prove that all prices are relative.