Flash News: Japan in Australia – Niki de Saint Phalle – ART.FAIR 2014



Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: Japan in Australia – Niki de Saint Phalle in the line of sight – ART.FAIR 2014

Japan in Australia

We can make another future : Japanese art after 1989, expertly curated by Reuben Keehan at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), provides an opportunity to take stock of the contribution made by Japanese artists to the contemporary art scene. As the title suggests, the exhibition provides an overview of Japanese art since 1989, which marked the beginning of the Akihito era after the death of Emperor Hirohito. This has indeed been a significant period in Japanese history, characterised by a political watershed, the collapse of the speculative bubble and a stock exchange crash that went on to have repercussions for the whole of the art market.
It has also seen the emergence of digital aesthetics, the Kawaii style, photography, performance and a whole questioning of genres and identities. The leading contemporary artists featured in We can make another future: Japanese art after 1989 includeYayoi KUSAMA,Yoshitomo NARA,Takashi MURAKAMI,Nobuyoshi ARAKI,Yasumasa MORIMURA,Ufan LEE,Daido MORIYAMA,Hiroshi SUGIMOTO and Yukinori YANAGI. Today, these artists are exhibited and collected around the world. Some have even become pillars of the global contemporary art market: Yayoi Kusama, the world’s most expensive living female artist; Murakami, who is ranked at number 23 in the list of the world’s 500 top-selling artists; and Nari and Sugimoto, who claim 37th and 86th places in this ranking.
There is still plenty of time to visit this major exhibition, which brings together 40 Japanese artists and 100 of their works. It opened in early September 2014 and will run until 15 September 2015.

Niki de Saint Phalle in the line of sight

The national galleries of the Grand Palais have recently opened the largest exhibition in 20 years devoted to Niki DE SAINT-PHALLE (17 September 2014 – 2 February 2015. This latest show sets out to cast a fresh light on the work of this prolific and multidisciplinary artist. Her work – a celebration of curves, imperfection and fantasy – is presented in all its many facets, from autobiographical and feminist to participative and engaged. Les galeries nationales du Grand Palais ont récemment ouvert la plus grande exposition consacrée à l’artiste
Niki de Saint Phalle created her first collages and gouaches in the early 1950s as a way of regaining control during a time of great personal anguish. She went on to hold her first exhibition in 1956, the year that she met Jean Tinguely. In the wake of the stir created by her early works – and particularly Tableaux-tirs – the self-taught workaholic Saint Phalle turned out a plethora of large and small-scale works, producing some 3,500 pieces in her 50-year career (an average of two per week).

In 1965, she began her “Nanas” series (a retrogressive name for colourful, feminine goddesses). The Nanas have become some of the 20th century’s most iconic and immediately recognisable works, and they are extremely popular on both sides of the Atlantic. One of them – Ana Lena en Grèce (270 cm tall, created in 1965-67) – even broke the million-dollar threshold at Sotheby’s New York in 2006 (selling for in excess of $1.136 million including buyer’s premium). Today, it would cost around $500,000 to buy a black, two-metre-high Nana similar to that acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1969, while a small 10-30 cm porcelain Nana, of which there are 150 or 200 specimens, commands an average price of $10,000-$15,000. For those with smaller budgets, the artist also produced a number of lithographs, largely as a means of financing her larger projects. These signed works are often available for between $300 and $2,000. Only a rare few have sold for more than $5,000.


The twelfth edition of the Cologne fair for modern and contemporary art (ART.FAIR) will be opening its doors to the public for four days from 24 October (the dates overlap slightly with Fiac in Paris). This year the fair has moved to the massive Koelnmesse, one of the five largest convention centres in the world. The fair aims to satisfy a broad spectrum of art lovers by focusing on safe names, emerging artists and new talents who are still unknown on the secondary market. The hundred galleries selected will be presenting a wide range of works, including top-selling artists such as BANKSY (Galerie 3 Punts, and Banksy mimic Mr Brainwash, who will be shown by the Galerie Hafenrichter); Georg BASELITZ (represented at the Kunsthandlung Osper, Projektraum Knut Osper and Galerie Terminus stands); John Angus CHAMBERLAIN and Sigmar POLKE (Galerie Terminus); Chuck CLOSE (Galerie Rainer Klimczack); Keith HARING (Galerie Hafenrichter); Alex KATZ (at the Hafenrichter, Burkard Eikelmann and Rainer Klimczack stands); Anselm KIEFER (Polyhof artclub); Imi KNOEBEL (Galerie Casteel) and Sol LEWITT (Galerie & Kunsthandel Draheim).
ART.FAIR promises therefore to deliver artists who are likely to catch the attention of major international buyers alongside names that are less sought-after but already garnering their share of attention, such as Peter ZIMMERMANN (whose works have broken the $20,000 barrier at auction eleven times), Thomas BAUMGÄRTEL and Werner BERGES (three of whose works have sold for over $10,000 in German salerooms). Going beyond these emerging German talents, the fair will also showcase American, Italian, Korean and Chinese artists. Some of these are already riding high, such as the champion of photographic performance art, LI Wei. Spurred on by an exhibition at the 10 Chancery Lane Gallery in Hong Kong a few years ago, he has now gained a strong foothold in the European market, chiefly via the French gallery Dock sud, who will be representing the artist at the fair.