While New York is basking in MoMA’s retrospective of Sigmar Polke, Christie’s in London will be hosting an exhibition of Polke’s work mixed with his peer and rival, Gerhard Richter, that has been organized by Kenny Schachter and Christie’s Darren Leach. About half of the works in the Christie’s show will be for sale but the point of the event is to bring together two artists who have had differing market fates but similar critical stature. Here’s Colin Gleadell on the pair:
One reason for the difference in market performance is the difference in styles. Richter is generally easier to read, and for the market to get to grips with and consume. Although he embraces many styles, they do break down easily – blurred photo-realist subjects and luxuriant abstracts that have become trophy paintings for the world’s super-rich. Polke’s styles are more difficult to categorise, as they explore the mysteries of paint itself and what happens when it is mixed alchemically with other substances.
But is the world’s understanding of Polke about to become clearer? Next month, the Museum of Modern Art in New York holds a massive Polke retrospective that will travel to Tate Modern in October. Everyone who understands Polke believes that the gap between the two artists’ prices will narrow. The Michael Werner Gallery, which worked with Polke during his lifetime, is presenting an exhibition in New York of 100 works on paper from the Sixties, priced from $30,000 to $250,000. The gallery director, Gordon Veneklasen, says that this adjustment has already begun. “His influence on younger artists is palpable, and a catalogue raisonné is now being produced, helping collectors to rationalise his market. On the private market, his paintings have sold for as much as $12 million,” says Veneklasen.
For Schachter, this is a second stab at a show that he proposed initially to Sotheby’s last year, but which fell through. Prices will range from £3,000 for some of the early collaborative prints made by Polke and Richter in the Sixties, to £8 million for a painting by Richter. Holding the middle ground are works on paper by Polke that are priced from £150,000.
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