Scott Reyburn revealed an interesting data point on the art market’s latest must-buy artist, Lucien Smith. According to Reyburn, the Rain series of works that has been setting off fire alarms at auction houses with the top seller making £194,500:
An Yves Klein for the Instagram generation, the New York-based Mr. Smith uses a fire extinguisher to spray canvases with thousands of droplets of paint. He has produced as many as 300 of his “rain” paintings over the last couple of years, dealers estimate.
Kenny Schachter, who covered the London day sales for Gallerist, expresses some of the art world’s broader skepticism about these young market phenoms, especially their tendency to create, “repetitive, seemingly shallow and thoughtless works, in big series—and making bigger and bigger prices. These works have a tendency to be bought, sold and re-sold while the (spray) paint is still barely dry.”
More important, these types of series and their growing sales success seem to be a product, to Schachter’s point of view, of the growth of new channels and networks in the art market—primarily the social media outlets Instagram and Facebook—that lie beyond traditional dealers and auction houses.
Schachter is surely right. And it is worth adding that Hirst’s Spots, Murakami’s flowers and Koons’s nearly 5000 small balloon dogs have paved the way for the big series. The steadily rising value of those little balloon dogs (one of which sold for $52,000 late last year as the rest of the series has maintained a fairly steady $10-12k value) suggests the art market needs works in larger series to be able to span the global demand.
For the Love of Art, and Money (NYTimes)