Judd Tully makes a few trenchant observations about the new sales category that Christie’s seems to have launched last night with Loic Gouzer’s “If I Live …” sale. Rightly pointing out that artists who emerged from the 80s onward, with the exception of Jean-Michel Basquiat, are overshadowed in the Evening sales, the success of this new category (can it have a more descriptive name that Contemporary that defines it as Post-PostWar?) suggests a shift in the way art will be marketed going forward.
Astute market observers have already pointed out that Philippe Ségalot did something similar in 1999 when he made his sale Postwar AND Contemporary art. Tully makes another linkage worth noting that shows how far the Contemporary market has come in such a short time. Last night’s sale had nearly the same total as Ségalot’s 2010 Carte Blanche sale at Phillips de Pury. That sale was dominated by a Warhol yet last night’s comparable total got there without the big guns:
Since this is a one-off sale, “curated” by Christie’s, there are no direct comparisons, though Phillips de Pury’s toppy and customized “Carte Blanche” auction, organized by private dealer Philippe Segalot in November 2010, made $137 million for the 52 lots that sold.
The raison d’etre of this effort, according to Loic Gouzer, the Christie’s specialist who organized the sale, was to give bigger play to artists who largely came to fame in the 1980s and ’90s, yet are sometimes squeezed out of klieg light attention due to pricier offerings in the Ab-Ex , London School, and Pop Art arenas.
“It’s a risk mission,” said Gouzer earlier this spring as the sale was coming together. “These evening sales have become so big that a classic from the ’80s almost has no room in these sales anymore.”