Flash News : Death of Chu Teh Chun – Bernard Buffet – Pieter Brueghel the Younger



Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: Death of Chu Teh Chun – Bernard Buffet – Pieter Brueghel the Younger

Death of the artist Chu Teh Chun

CHU Teh-Chun was born in 1920 in the province of Jiangsu, and died in Paris on 25 March 2014 at the age of 93. To quote the Académie des Beaux-arts de France, he was « the last representative at the Académie of the lyric abstraction that renewed the history of Western painting. »
In 1935, Chu enrolled in the National College of Arts, Hangzhou, directed at the time by Lin Fongmien, who was one of the first Chinese artists to study in France, between 1918 and 1925. Chu took an early interest in Western painting, and taught the subject at the National Normal University of Taipei in 1951. Four years later, he set off for Europe, and settled in Paris. He started drawing classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, and came into contact with Western abstract painting for the first time. His discovery of Nicolas DE STAËLs work at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris’s 1956 retrospective on the artist was a revelation. Chu began to make a name in France in the Fifties, consolidating it with exhibitions at the Carnegie Art Museum in Pittsburgh, then in Jerusalem, Athens and at the Sao Paulo Biennial (1969).But he never cut his links with China, and during the Seventies he established a firm reputation in Asia, where his work became known through exhibitions in Taipei, Beijing, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Chu is one of the most popular Franco-Chinese artists with French collectors, together with Zao Wou Ki, Lin Fengmian, Yan Pei Ming and Sanyu, but he is also highly appreciated in Asia, because he was one of the artists who forged a connection between Asian and Western cultures. Extremely lively international demand has propelled his price index up by 1,300% over the last 10 years. His work has generated no fewer than 37 bids of over a million between Hong Kong and Taipei, home to the wealthiest collectors, but his prices are undeniably rising in Paris as well.

Shanghai: a new global platform. The shining example of Bernard Buffet

Following its opening sale in Shanghai on 26 September 2013, Christie’s is continuing its test sales in situ by focusing on a cultural mix. The first Shanghai sale featured 42 lots, with not only some top Asian names, for which there is a firm local demand, but also works by Giorgio Morandi, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol. The second sale, on 26 April 2014, will dance to the same tune, with artists from China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and the West, including Liu Wei, Zao Wou-Ki, Aya Takano, I Nyoman Masriadi, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Pablo Picasso and Bernard Buffet.

Bernard BUFFET? Yes, indeed: for the French artist long disparaged by critics in his own country is distinctly successful in China – and is even one of the five artists who sell best in Asia, alongside Auguste Rodin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Mathurin Moreau. On 26 April 2014, Christie’s is offering a major work by Buffet: a large painting from 1989 entitled Deux clowns, saxophone, with an estimate of $500,000/700,000. If the clowns sell within this price range, it will be Buffet’s best bid in Shanghai. To date, his highest price is $145,900 for the 1982 Bouquet aux soucis, sold by Shanghai Hosane on 27 June 2008. He has not yet returned to the top price level he enjoyed in 1990: a stellar period when he even came close to a million dollars (Le cirque, clowns musiciens, knocked down for the equivalent of $962,500 on 13 June 1990 at Anaf in Lyon, France). However, it is worth keeping a close eye on his results, especially since Arlequin from 1956 fetched nearly $620,000 at a recent London sale, doubling its high estimate (Sotheby’s, 6 February 2014). His price index has risen by 100% over the decade. To date, 34% of revenues have been posted in France, 23% in the US, 21% in the UK and over 13% in Japan.

Artcurial and Pieter Brueghel the Younger

The Artcurial auction house posted a second bid of over a million in less than six months for Pieter II BRUEGHEL (c.1564-1637/38), when it sold The Payment of the Tithes (1615) for €1.66 million including the buyer’s premium (i.e. $2.22 million) on 13 November 2013, and then Peasant Wedding dance for €1,661,400 including the buyer’s premium (estimated at €800,000/€1.2 million) on 26 March 2014. These two impressive results within such a short space of time prove the high-quality offering of the French market, which boasts a truly international aura and attracts buyers from all over the world. Works of this calibre are generally sent to London (nearly 65% of net sales for Pieter II Brueghel) or New York (nearly 19% of the artist’s revenues). Each year in France, roughly fifty works achieve over a million at auction, and Artcurial is holding its own. It is now the global number 12 auction house in terms of sales, and the leader in France, generating results of $79.3 million in 2013, with 4,432 lots sold in the Fine Art category.