First auction



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 10 best auction results of Contemporary artists whose work appeared for the first time at auction in 2011.

In 2011, 5,300 Contemporary artists made their auction debuts. Some of these artists may well never return to the auction market, whereas others have already scored some of the best Contemporary art results recorded for 2011.

Top 10 : best auction results of Contemporary artists whose work appeared for the first time at auction in 2011

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 LV Jia $416880 Sage(mist) 06/03/2011 (Poly International Auction Co.,Ltd)
2 YAN Feihong $228520 horse (2010) 11/17/2011 (Beijing Hanhai Art Auction Co.Ltd)
3 Eric GOULDER $190000 Seated woman (1993) 05/11/2011 (Sotheby’s NY)
4 CAO Yunfei $108080 Howling (2007) 06/03/2011 (Poly International Auction Co.,Ltd)
5 Flore SIGRIST $97495 Dyptique (2010) 10/11/2011 (Artcurial (S.V.V.) PARIS)
6 LUAN Bu $92400 In the Harvest Days (2009) 05/24/2011 (China Guardian Auctions Co., Ltd)
7 Joe COLEMAN $80000 « Coal Man » (1997) 11/09/2011 (Christie’s NEW YORK NY)
8 Nick CAVE $78000 Soundsuit (2005) 05/13/2011 (Phillips de Pury & Co NY)
9 ZHANG Meili $77750 Harvest (2000) 07/26/2011 (Poly International Auction Co.,Ltd)
10 Ralf KASPER $75216 Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow 10/13/2011 (Phillips de Pury & Co LONDON)

Five Chinese artists in the top 10

It comes as no surprise to find five Chinese artists in this ranking as we have already focused much attention on China’s recent domination of the art market. Once again, this ranking proves the extent of the Chinese market’s intrepidity in supporting newcomers to its market.
At the 3 June 2011 sale, two new artists made their auction debuts: the first was LV Jia whose Sage (Mist) fetched CNY 2.7m ($416,880). In spite of a very optimistic estimate (CNY 1.2m – 1.5m), the work had no trouble attracting strong demand, doubling its pre-sale estimate and generating the year’s best auction debut result. However, while Sage (Mist) received ardent bidding, another work by the same artist at the same sale was given a much cooler reception. Priced in the same range and visually fairly similar to Sage (Mist), his Sutra (ring of light) remained unsold. Several lots later at the same sale, a work entitled Howling by CAO Yunfei attracted strong bidding from collectors. Here again, one might have thought collectors would balk at the high estimate (CNY 700,000 – 800,000), but the work did in fact sell for its low estimate of CNY 700,000 ($108,080).
More traditional than his contemporaries, the artist YAN Feihong uses Indian ink and paper like his illustrious elders and predecessors. Dubbed “the horse painter” by the Beijing Review as of 1992, his auction debut was, not surprisingly, a drawing of a horse. Mixing a Contemporary style with secular techniques and materials, his « Horse » fetched CNY 1.45m ($228,520) in November 2011 at Beijing Hanhai.
Two other artists, respectively 6th and 9th in this ranking, are also Chinese. LUAN Bu, whose In The Harvest Days sold within its pre-sale range at CNY 800,000 ($92,400) on 24 May 2011, and ZHANG Meili whose Haruest fetched double its high estimate at CNY 250,000 ($77, 750) on 26 July 2011.

The other artists in this ranking are three Americans, one German and one French woman.
One of the Americans, Eric GOULDER was fortunate enough to have his work Seated Woman presented alongside the works of sculptors like Stephan BALKENHOL and Juan MUÑOZ at Sotheby’s afternoon sale in New York in May 2011. The high estimate for his imposing sculpture (one cubic metre of bronze) was $120,000. However, the final bid was very substantially higher at $190,000. Born in 1964, Goulder is now represented by the Earl McGrath gallery (New York / Los Angeles).
Another American whose auction career began at an afternoon sale, this time at Christie’s in November 2011 was Joe COLEMAN. His auction debut « Coal Man » fetched 80,000. The piece, which is emblematic of his work, is a Kafkaesque and nightmarish exploration of the human condition through characters that look as though they might have escaped from a comic strip or a Hiëronymus van Aken BOSCH painting.
The last American is equally atypical: Nick CAVE became known to the public via his Soundsuit exhibitions with costumes covered in feathers, hairs and various other materials. These suits could be presented by models or worn by the artist himself during his performances. It was therefore no surprise that his first auction result was generated by a Soundsuit, which fetched $78,000 in May 2011 at Phillip’s de Pury in New York. In fact, Nick Cave is the only artist in this top 10 to have consolidated his price index: in November another of his Soundsuit fetched $90,000.
Although France has little reason to be proud of the state of its art market, it nevertheless did have one artist who hit the headlines in 2011. One of the ten highest ranked under-30 artists in 2011 (Contemporary artists under 30), Flore SIGRIST is also in this ranking since her 2011 record was also her debut auction result. Her Dyptique which fetched $97,945 was extremely well presented by Artcurial who described the artist at the sale of the work in October last as a future star of the market.
The only photograph in this ranking, «Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow » by the German photographer Ralf KASPER, fetched $48,000 ($75,216) and came tenth in this ranking. Ralk Kaspers is much influenced by the work of his compatriot Andreas GURSKY and is equally fond of large formats (the work in question was more than 2 metres wide and 2 metres tall).

Like the under-30 artists, these artists now have a foot in the secondary market, and while this first step has been exceptionally strong, the challenge now is prove that it can be repeated or consolidated. In 2008, SUN Lixin had first place in this very same auction debut ranking; three years later his works change hands for between a tenth and a quarter of his debut auction result.