Gagosian has wrapped the inaugural season of its online “Artist Spotlight” series, a weekly showcase of artists from the gallery’s stable with works priced as high as $5 million. That the gallery has seen success on the platform, which features editorial commentary alongside its artworks for sale, is yet another sign that business is booming in the virtual realm. The series ended with the sale of Jenny Saville’s aptly titled new self-portrait Virtual (2020). Gagosian has said the Saville is the most expensive work to sell through the platform, but has declined to state a price for it.
The initiative, according to Sam Orlofsky, a director at Gagosian, was developed as a direct response to the pandemic crisis that left a host of the dealer’s artists without exhibitions or an obvious source of income for the foreseeable future. “We immediately started to brainstorm ways we could bridge the gap until the shows could reopen,” Orlofsky said. “Some artists work three years for a major New York exhibition and their budget accounts for that exhibition being able to generate income.”
Comparing artists’ studios to small enterprises, Orlofsky added, “It was a moment where we were all very conscious of the impact on small businesses.”
In the three months since the series was launched, Gagosian held spotlights for 14 artists, including Damien Hirst, Jenny Saville, Stanley Whitney, Jennifer Guidi, Theaster Gates, Dan Colen, Urs Fischer, Mark Grotjahn, and Mary Weatherford. So far, there have been various high-level private deals. An untitled painting by Grotjahn from his “Capri” series was sold privately for $5 million (the most expensive work sold during the artist’s spotlight period), and two works by Hirst—one piece went for $2.2 million; the other, a 2017–18 oil painting called Veil of Hidden Meaning, went for $1.5 million—were placed with collectors. There have been major public sales, too, and they include a $775,000 Urs Fischer, a $250,000 Jennifer Guidi, a $400,000 Mary Weatherford, and a $300,000 Titus Kaphar. Altogether, the announced works total $10 million with the gallery hinting much more that has not be publicly revealed. Continue Reading