Contemporary art market: collectors favour local artists at auctions

[24.09.2002]

 

The art market is undeniably international. Works are being created and traded world-wide. And increasingly prices are tempting producers and purchasers alike to cross borders. The more expensive a work, the more international its reach, since potential buyers have deeper pockets and can pay more.

A survey of the top-selling contemporary artists in each main auction venue (see table) shows auction houses placing the most value on home-grown artists. With some exceptions, even the most fashionable artist at home in auctions sales will not necessarily stand among top selling artists in the other countries’ rankings. Spanish Miquel BARCELO is one of the rare exceptions, as about 90 % of its turnover is realised in London. Leader’s place of the public sales of contemporary art in the United Kingdom in 2001 emerges from it. His recent record sale in London, a hammer price at GBP&nbsp850, 000 on June 26th 2002, should confirm its position this year again. On the other hand, the European art lover avid to get itself a creation of the American Bruce NAUMAN at auction have difficulties being satisfied somewhere else than in the United States. Several reasons in it.
At first, when the success confirms for an artist, it becomes difficult to find abroad his works in public sales. The market remains subjected to the limits of the artist’s production and is often dried up once satisfied the national demand.
Secondly, every country tends to keep(guard) its specificity by maintaining the promotion of the national production. Artists’ and buyers’ local roots still run deep. Confronted with an increasingly integrated world cultural space, international auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s develop diversification strategies to reach the public with a taste for contemporary art. One way is to play on the persistence of national differences.

The art market may be becoming international but it is not globalised and specificity is still a key issue when it comes to culture.

Contemporary artist, born after 1940, 
the most valued by auction Classification from the turnover 
realized at auctions in 2001 by the artist in the considered country

Country of sale 

Leader contemporary artist 

Birth country 

Turnover in 2001 

percentage of the artist’s turnover in the country of sale

United States 

Bruce NAUMAN(1941) 

U.S.A.

EUR 12 285 463

99,9%

United Kingdom

Miquel BARCELO(1957) 

Spain 

EUR 2 536 324

90,7% 

France 

Robert COMBAS(1957) 

France 

EUR 581 095

97,7%

Australia

Garry SHEAD(1942) 

Australia 

EUR 328 499

100,0%

Taiwan

CAI Guoqiang(1957) 

China 

EUR 233 288

100,0% 

N. Zealand

Bill HAMMOND(1947) 

N. Zealand 

EUR 172 707

88,4% 

Germany

Rainer FETTING(1949) 

Germany 

EUR 185 639

68,2% 

Italia 

Mimmo PALADINO(1948) 

Italia 

EUR 168 077

21,2% 

Irland

John SHINNORS(1950) 

Irland 

EUR 126 594

100,0% 

Israel

Meir PICHHADZE(1955) 

Israel 

EUR 90 668

100,0% 

Spain 

Guillermo PÉREZ VILLALTA(1948) 

Spain 

EUR 69 980

100,0% 

Netherlands  

Rob KONINGSBRUGGEN VAN(1948) 

Netherlands 

EUR 63 147

100,0% 

Switzrland 

Richard TUTTLE(1941) 

U.S.A 

EUR 45 365

8,2% 

Denmark

Kurt TRAMPEDACH(1950) 

Danemark 

EUR 40 845

100,0% 

Canada

David Lloyd BLACKWOOD(1941) 

Canada 

EUR 38 476

100,0% 

Sweden 

Bo LARSSON(1945) 

Sweden 

EUR 37 934

100,0% 

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