Artist Daniel Arsham’s collaboration with Dior Homme’s art director Kim Jones for the label’s Summer 2020 show continues with another set of editions that pay homage to the label. In the style of his signature “Future-Relics” series, Arsham meditates further on archival excess and nostalgic affliction.
A highlight among an edition of 100 includes a $9,500 hydrostone sculpture book cover, a reimagining of the brand founder, Christian Dior’s 1951 volume Je suis Couturier– a trove of the designer’s career-spanning musings. Arsham is one of the contemporary artist-entrepreneurs putting stock in the value of mass-produced multiples.
Last fall, Arsham’s work reached an auction record in the Phillips Hong Kong 20th Contemporary Art & Design Sale with his Quartz Eroded Vogue Magazine 101 (2019) selling for $300,000. That is in excess of fourteen times the original low estimate of almost $20,000. Made with selenite, a variation of crystal and treated to look calcified, the art work is emblazoned with the magazine cover’s display text cut in relief. The names Richard Serra and I.M. Pei gesture to the commercial art world through Vogue‘s 2019 headlines. In the same season, his Eroded Brillo Boxes sold for over $200,000 in a Sotheby’s Contemporary Day sale. Produced in collaboration with the Andy Warhol Museum (for their benefit), it was the first time an Arsham edition hit six-figures in the secondary market.
The novelty of the sculpture and its editioned supply creates a rarity the market tends to embrace in keeping with the luxury industry’s lust for the new. The secondary market’s mid-to-low price echelon is where these fashion/art/hybrid pieces perform best. Vogue was donated by the artist directly to benefit the Hong Kong Contemporary Art (HOCA) Foundation for the 2019 Phillips sale, the work had not been available to the market before then. Established in 2014, HOCA has partnered with auction houses on collectibles and toy limited edition sales comprising works by KAWS and urban art influencers alike. Another of Arsham’s branded editions created with suitcase label Rimowa, a house also owned by LVMH, appeared in the Phillips London Edition sale this January selling for $13,000.
Jones has also added auction to his resume of strategic collaborations. Most recently, he partnered with Sotheby’s, serving as a guest curator for their Contemporary Curated sale, which took place on March 6th. The series grossed a total of $31.8M, with works by foremost postwar names such as Wayne Thiebaud and Lee Bontecou leading the sale results. The mid-season contemporary sales often offer works novel to auction and ones potentially only briefly seen in the primary market. Among the various artists Jones has tapped for partnerships include KAWS, Raymond Pettibon and Alex Foxton. Inherited from the likes of Takashi Murakami and Damien Hirst, neo-pop maintains its strong-hold on the global art network.
It isn’t just new pop. More emerging artists who have seen success in the secondary market have allied with luxury brands. In July 2019, Tschabalala Self and Jonas Wood, among others, each contributed to Louis Vuitton’s limited-edition Artycapucines Collection, featuring bespoke designs embellishing the brand’s iconic Capucine handbag. Wood is an established top name; and Self is a new market darling whose depictions of black female essence have recently seen a high-level of buyer interest; both are figurative painters.
Designers and artists have discovered, as they expand the luxury collectibles market with these collaborations, that they can seek out value—often provided by emerging millennial buyers—in the auction market. Arsham has added the no-risk buffer of a museum donation to the formula. It’s the new alchemy of the art market.