The state of the Impressionist and Modern art category, with its emphasis on exceptional works, and the status of London's June sales were the subtext of last night's sale at Christie's.
The £149.5m sale total reflected a slight 4% miss of the overall low estimate confirming last week's evidence that estimates in the Impressionist and Modern category have gotten ahead of the overall market itself.
Athena Art Finance's sales statistics gave the average estimate range for the sale as £4.1m to £5.8m, a fairly wide range. The average hammer price for the 30 lots sold was £4.4m. The most desirable Impressionist and Modern art is quite valuable and, as such, has become more of a tangible asset than other categories.
That brings us to the second subtext which is the changing schedule and the scope of the Modern category. Christie's included two lots (a Fontana and a Riopelle) that would not have normally been sold in a Imp-Mod sale. The reason might simply have been to satisfy consignors who could not wait for their October sales cycle. But Jussi Pylkkanen added fuel to the speculation that the industry may start pulling post-war works of art into the Modern (or 20th Century, as Christie's calls it) category. “The boundaries are changing,” Pylkkanen said in the after sale press conference carried on Facebook Live.
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