Contemporary German artists


Every fortnight Artprice provides you with a new or updated ranking in its Alternate-Friday Top Series. The theme of today’s TOP article is the ten best auction results generated by German artists.

Nowadays, there are numerous German artists among the world’s top-selling Contemporary artists.
During the first half of 2010, three signatures were in particularly strong demand: Martin KIPPENBERGER, Andreas GURSKY and Neo RAUCH.
All three had already crossed the million-dollar threshold. Although many of the transactions involving the works of these artists take place in Germany, their best pieces sell in London and New York for substantially higher prices.

Top 10 : best auctions results in 2010 by contemporary German artists

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Martin KIPPENBERGER $3 523 725 Fliegender Tanga (Flying Tanga) 02/11/2010 (Christie’s London)
2 Andreas GURSKY $1 445 035 Madonna I (2001) 02/10/2010 (Sotheby’s London)
3 Martin KIPPENBERGER $1 326 248 Die Verbreitung… 06/30/2010 (Christie’s London)
4 Martin KIPPENBERGER $1 226 700 Dinosaurierei 03/08/2010 (Sotheby’s Amsterdam)
5 Martin KIPPENBERGER $1 127 592 Untitled (1983) 02/11/2010 (Christie’s London)
6 Neo RAUCH $895 000 Suche (2004) 05/11/2010 (Christie’s NY)
7 Neo RAUCH $812 760 Die Helfer (1997) 02/12/2010 (Christie’s London)
8 Neo RAUCH $753 550 Sub (2000) 06/30/2010 (Christie’s London)
9 Andreas GURSKY $750 000 Chicago Board of Trade (1997) 05/11/2010 (Christie’s NY)
10 Andreas GURSKY $723 168 Stateville, Illinois (2002) 06/28/2010 (Sotheby’s London)

Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997)
At the end of the first half of 2010, Martin Kippenberger occupies 4 of the top 5 places in this ranking of the best auction results by German artists in 2009/10 with (in descending order) $3.5m for Fliegender Tanga (Flying Tanga) (11/02/2010 Christie’s London), followed in third place by $1.3m for Die Verbreitung der Mittelmässigkeit (30/06/2010 Christie’s London), then by $1.2m for Dinosaurierei (08/03/2010, Sotheby’s Amsterdam) and lastly $1,1m for Untitled (from the series Lieber Maler Male mir/Dear Painter Paint Me) (11/02/2010, Christie’s London). All four works having generated over $1m, Kippenberger had already generated 70% of his 2009 revenue total in the first six months of 2010.
Since his death at the age of 44 in 1997, Martin Kippenberger has left a prolific and complex corpus of work.
Two years later, in November 1999, his Untitled (1988) fetched $650,000 at Christie’s New York, i.e. ten times its high pre-sale estimate. During his lifetime, none of his works had ever fetched more than $15,000.
Catalysed by his posthumous participation in the 50th Venice Biennial in 2003, his price index rose by 219% in just two years with more than 200 works offered for sale. Despite a less euphoric 2008 in which 62% of his works remained unsold, in 2009, with its backdrop of financial and economic crisis, his annual auction revenue rose by a staggering 1,171% (to more than €7.8m)! This huge total was partly generated by a superb record of $3.6m for his Untitled (1988) at Sotheby’s New York. In the past year, the market for his more affordable works (at under $5,000) considerably contracted from an average of 30% of total transactions during the 1997-2009 period, to just 6% (2009-2010).
Although the German market handled a sizeable 38% of the lots sold, it generated only 7% of his global auction revenue. The top end of his market, accounting for 90% of the artist’s total auction revenue, was negotiated in US and UK auction rooms.

Andreas Gursky (1955)
After a difficult year due to the crisis (in 2008/09, his price index contracted 51%), Andreas Gursky returned north of the million-dollar line this year with the sale of his Madonna I, 2001 photo in February 2010 for $1.4m at Sotheby’s in London (second best price in this ranking). Three months later, his Chicago Board of Trade fetched $750,000 at Christie’s in New York. The same work sold for $420,000 at Sotheby’s in 2003. Lastly, his 2 by 3-metre cibachrome entitled Stateville, Illinois fetched the equivalent of $723,168 in June 2010 at Sotheby’s in London (last in this ranking).
However, these scores are still a long way behind the $2.9m (£1.5m) record for a photographic work set by his 99 cent II, 2001 on 7 February 2007 at Sotheby’s in London.
Despite the economic recovery, buyers are still being selective (39% of his works went unsold in 1H 2010). On the other hand, the proportion of his works selling for under $7000 has fallen from an average of 80% in the 1997-2009 period to 41% since June 2009.
Andreas Gursky is today the world’s most expensive Contemporary photographer with a total auction revenue since July 2009 of 4.5 million dollars, 97% of which was negotiated in the US and the UK. In 2009/10, 14% of Gursky’s works were sold in the artist’s country of origin and 80% of those transactions involved sums below 10,000 dollars.

Neo Rauch (1960)
On 15 August 2010, the doors closed on a major retrospective of Rauch’s works at the Leipzig Museum of Fine Art and the New Pinacotheque in Munich. This retrospective coincided with the artist’s 50th birthday and it also coincided with a particularly fruitful auction period for the artist with 15 works sold during the first half of 2010 2010 and three exceptional results:
Suche fetched $895,000 at Christie’s in New York, Die Helfer (dated 1997) sold for $812,760, nearly double its high estimate, at Christie’s in London, and Sub sold within its pre-sale estimated range for the equivalent of $753,550 also at Christie’s London branch.
Neo Rauch, a figurehead of the New School of Leipzig, has seen an 85% increase in his price index since 2009 on the back of a spectacular record that was generated in October 2009 at Christie’s in London for his Stellwerk (Signal Box) which fetched the equivalent of $1,227,780 his only million-plus result.
87% of Rauch’s revenue is negotiated in the US and the UK from just 38% of the total volume of transactions. The German market negotiates 60% of the transactions of which 64% involve sums under $15,000.