Artcurial’s Paris Saleroom, February 24, 2020.
Artcurial’s Urban and Pop Contemporary auction held in Paris on Sunday saw solid results for several key artists this year achieving a total of €2.3M ($2.5M). The category, which was established at Artcurial in 2006, has in recent years seen growing interest, yet this year’s results were down about 30% from last year’s total of €3.3M ($3.7M).
Among the sale highlights was Rubik Mona Lisa (2005) by French street artist Invader, which far surpassed its low estimate of €150,000 and eventually sold for €480,200 ($523,418) with fees. This number marks the highest price on record for one of the artist’s Rubik’s cube pieces, but is far below Invader’s auction record, set in November 2019 at Sotheby’s Contemporary Day sale with TK_119, a ceramic tile work, selling for $1.2M (against a low estimate of $100,000). The anonymous artist, who began working in the 1990s, is known for using a mosaic technique to create pixelated illusions of appropriated images from pop culture and art history.
Another peak in the auction was the sale of French street artist JR’s photographic print 28 Millimètres, Women Are Heroes, Delivery in Monrovia Liberia 2007 – 2009, which sold for €101.400 ($110.526) including buyer’s premium. The artist’s large-scale photographic assemblages, and portraiture placed in various locales across the globe have recently received attention in the commercial sphere. A significant moment in the artist’s early career came with a major installation at The Armory show in 2018 curated by Deitch Projects. Photographic documentation work done on the streets by KAWS and others was also on sale.
The growth in this category sees auction houses like Artcurial strategically targeting emerging collectors. Another such sale at the house was last May’s Don’t Believe the Hype, which offered rare branded art and luxury pieces produced as collaborations between various fashion icons like Juergen Teller, Supreme and Marc Jacobs, including accessories like a black Chanel basketball and Terry Richardson Polaroids. Christie’s and Sotheby’s have also joined the contest to reach a young base of collectors with curated sales of artist-luxury hybrids keepsakes.