This detailed analysis of the composition of the November Contemporary Evening sales was provided by our friends at Pi-eX. It is available to AMMpro subscribers. Subscriptions begin with a free month for the curious.
Last week, we published some charts displaying the diverging paths each auction house took toward their Impressionist and Modern sales. Now we have something similar for all three houses. Before we get into the substance, a quick word on the charts. These have been run as percentage of the total sale devoted to each artist. We chose this to make it slightly easier to read over time.
At Christie’s, it is easy to see the outsized role the Leonardo played last year and the Hockney played this year. Beneath the Hockney we can see the familiar names of Basquiat, Bacon, Rothko and Warhol, though in slightly smaller proportions that many past years. Lichtenstein and Koons play bigger roles at Christie’s in earlier years than they do today or at Sotheby’s.
At Sotheby’s, it’s easy to see a different emphasis though with a similar mix of names. Note the repeated presence of Jasper Johns in Sotheby’s top lots. Since we’re only looking at Evening sales, not single-owner collections or other special sales, we don’t see the de Kooning at Christie’s but we do see a greater percentage at Sotheby’s. The house’s historic advantage in the Richter market is also evident in this year’s sales composition.
Phillips has historically focused on younger artists with emerging markets. So the sales composition at Phillips generally skews toward ‘other’ artists. Still we can see some familiar names play an important role. Here, Richard Prince stands out in earlier years. Last November, Peter Doig filled the most important role as market leader for Phillips.