This analysis of the George Condo's auction sales results—made possible with data from Pi-Ex and Live Auction Art—is available to AMMpro subscribers. Subscribers get the first month free on monthly subscriptions. Feel free to cancel at any time before the month is up. Sign up for AMMpro here.
George Condo's market is having a hell of a year. The March sales of Contemporary art were very strong for the artist following on an even stronger showing in New York last November. But no one who follows Condo's market was anticipating this month's sale in London when an early work from 1985, Funny Landscape, (above) was on offer for £20-30k.
The painting is not immediately recognizable as a work by the artist. That didn't dissuade bidders from descending upon the work. When the mid-season auction was over, the lot had sold for nearly four times the high estimate to make £112,500 with fees.
In and of itself, the sale is interesting but neither earth shattering nor authoritatively directional. A number of art market professionals have been casually watching Condo sales over the last year. They've noticed the market action and are curious to plumb its depth. This is how an artist's market works with intermediaries sounding the depths of buyers' demand and sellers' interest—trying to determine whether to acquire, bring a work to market or get their clients more fully invested in the artist— through the repeated soundings of sales.
Since November, when a record was set for the artist during a day sale with bidding by prominent market makers, the casual interest in the Condo market has turned serious but cautious. The art market is phenomenological—meaning we never see the forces that drive the market explicitly but only trace the effects of that demand through the phenomena of sales events—always leaving a bit of doubt about whether the visible demand is real or orchestrated in some way.
With that in mind, we're going to go through some detailed numbers to help describe the shape and trajectory of Condo's rapidly changing market. So far in 2018, the sales volume for the artist has outpaced consistent sales of the two previous years. Each of those years was twice the level of the previous nine years.
A quick look at the sales history of last week's Funny Landscape might be a good place to start.
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