Art Market News in Brief!



While the year 2012 is coming to an end, Artprice looks into the rear view mirror and delivers the point of view of the art market key players.

Gagosian 2012 : five stars shoot away
The Larry Gagosian gallery’s proud forces were sadly depleted in 2012. In the first six months of the year, it lost two immense artists: Mike KELLEY, who died in Los Angeles in February, and Franz WEST, who died in Vienna in July.
Then later in the year, the specialist press had a field day with the defections of Damien HIRST, Jeff KOONS and Yayoi KUSAMA from the world’s most powerful gallery owner.
British artist Damien Hirst was the first to leave Gagosian, after a collaboration of seventeen years that culminated, this very year, in the retrospective Complete Spot Painting 1986-2011: a worldwide exhibition staged in 11 of the dealer’s 12 galleries. Damien Hirst manages very well for himself, selling a great deal on the primary market and continuing to collaborate with the White Cube, although losing momentum in the auction house: in 2012, he garnered only four bids of over a million compared with nine in 2011.
The other defection at the end of this year is the one announced by Jeff Koons, who is preparing an exhibition for May with David Zwirner, Gagosian’s great rival. Stakes are high for the gallery owners, because Jeff Koons is one of the most sought-after artists, and obtained the year’s highest price for a sculpture when his monumental Tulips fetched $30 m at Christie’s New York on 14 November 2012. To put things into perspective, this figure topped all his sales put together in 2009! Notwithstanding, before his exhibition with Zwirner, Jeff Koons is starting off 2013 with the loyal Gagosian in his Beverly Hills gallery (an exhibition running until 14 February 2013), where the artist used to rub shoulders with works by Yayoi Kusama, (Gagosian Beverly Hills exhibition, 7-22 December 2012) – who is also planning to leave the top dealer…

The strip cartoon phenomenon
A phenomenon in both cultural and market terms, comic strips are decidedly the mood of the moment, and Paris has established itself with Brussels as the capital of the ninth art for any strip cartoon lovers worth their salt.
A forerunner in the sector, the Artcurial auction house has announced a turnover of nearly €12 million for its strip cartoon sales in 2012: a spectacular rise of 82% compared with the previous year. This year, Artcurial sold the world’s most expensive comic strip work: the cover of HERGÉ‘s album Tintin en Amérique (1932). Top strip cartoonists are now obtaining similar prices to our great modern and contemporary artists, because this piece by Hergé went for €1.108 m ($1.37 m on 2 June 2012): an increase of nearly €500,000 compared with its previous hammer price, four years earlier. At the same period, the Paris branch of Sotheby’s also entered this fertile market when it staged its first comic strip sale in July 2012.Millon in turn recently confirmed the rapid growth of this market on 9 December by selling 255 drawings and original plates in a live link-up between Paris and Brussels (unsold lots: 19.5%). For a few hundred euros, you could treat yourself to an original drawing by Dany, Dupa, Francis, Funcken, Greg, Kox, Peyo, etc., while other lots soared to giddy heights, like Philippe DRUILLET‘s Lone Solane, which went for ten times its estimate at €12,000; Milo MANARA‘s erotic drawing Le stanze del desiderio, which fetched €34, 000 (€14,000 above its high estimate), or plate 32 of La Grande Traversée d’Astérix by Albert UDERZO, sold at a record price of €110,000: 20% more than its high estimate. Buyers came from not only Europe and the United States but also Hong Kong, where an investment fund showed keen interest in this sector.

Keith Haring: The Political Line at the MAM (Paris)
From 19 April to 18 August 2013, the MAM (Paris museum of modern art) will be staging a retrospective on Keith HARING. The exhibition will look back over the career of an American artist with a strong political commitment: through a plethora of symbols, the icon of Pop Art continually denounced racism, the excesses of capitalism and the AIDS epidemic that killed him in 1990. Some 250 works will be on show at the MAM, together with around fifteen large formats presented at the Centquatre. These include The Ten Commandments (1985), consisting of ten 7-metre high panels.
In 1986, Haring responded to enthusiasm for his work by opening his Pop Shop, which sold spin-off products of all kinds. Today he exerts as much fascination in the sale room as ever. His finest sale, in 2007, went at $2.5 m (double its high estimate) to a 1985 mixed media of over 365 x 365 cm (Untitled, Christie’s NY, 17/05/2007). Only his largest paintings go for more than a million, but there are extensive opportunities for buying, and half his works sell for less than $7,000 at auction (mainly prints and a few drawings).

The new Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam) puts the spotlight on Mike Kelley
A few months after his death, a monograph is being devoted to Mike Kelley at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam from 15 December 2012 to 1 April 2013, entitled Mike Kelley: Themes and variations from 35 years. This exhibition, now a retrospective, is the first to retrace the artist’s career from the Seventies to his very last works. With sculptures, paintings, drawings, videos and multi-media installations, some 250 pieces enable us to glimpse the multiple facets of a pioneer in video art.
Mike KELLEY quickly became the darling of the major international institutions; the Whitney Museum in New York staged a retrospective of his work as early as 1993. At the same time, the iconic artist of Los Angeles aroused unfailing interest in the sale rooms, reaching a high point in 2006 when a record $2.7 m went to the installation Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites (Phillips de Pury & Co., New York): the only bid of over a million recorded to date. However, his market gathered pace in 2011 to such an extent that between May and November, three works (each consisting of several cibachromes) shot up to over $700,000. The success of his sales in 2011 also increased his price index by a spanking 83%. Although his auction market is 91% American (91% of takings for 78% of transactions), his work is now beginning to travel through exhibitions. The current show will be leaving Amsterdam for stopovers in Paris (Centre Pompidou) and New York (MoMA) before its final port of call, Los Angeles (Museum of Contemporary Art).