Mexico is still poorly represented in the international art market with only two artists in the Artprice 2016 Contemporary Art Top 500 (Gabriel Orozco and Bosco Sodi) and auction proceeds of less than $6m. But the situation is changing quickly and the Mexican art market is becoming more and more dynamic. The rise of the Zona Maco fair, which takes place this year from 8 to 12 February is one of the best indicators of this change. Launched in 2002 in Monterrey before going to the capital, it has succeeded in attracting the most prestigious galleries on the planet: Continua, Gladstone, Zwirner, Gagosian, Lisson, etc. In Mexico City, a whole series of gallery owners form a solid base in the Mexican art market: OMR, House of Gaga, joségarcia, Labor, etc. These dealers were all present at Art Basel Miami and at FIAC in Paris and will of course all participate in Zona Maco 2017. This will also be the case for Kurimanzutto, whose two founders have become the most influential figures in contemporary art, according to ArtReview. The magazine also highlights the work of other Mexican players, including the creators of the e-flux platform, the collector Eugenio López, who created the Jumex Private Museum and the curator Pablo León de la Barra. The Mexican art market has therefore been transformed by a generation of artists, gallery owners, curators and collectors, who have become its best ambassadors abroad. They meet annually in Zona Maco, which claims to be the « most important art fair in Latin America ». Indeed, it is probably the most exciting event on the subcontinent along with SP-Arte in São Paulo.
Although the art market has not yet got back to normal, auction houses are beginning to advertise their next prestigious sales. Even though the balance of revenue for 2016 collapsed in the United States overall regarding auction sales; American (and world) demand for works of very high quality is still high… This is perhaps why Christie’s chose to sell two major American works at its next sale of Post-war and Contemporary art, which will be held on 7 March 2017, not in New York but in London. The masterpieces in question are by Mark ROTHKO (1903-1970)and Robert RAUSCHENBERG (1925-2008), two major figures of 20th century art and two artists whose value is extremely high. The two works are each ideally dated (1949 for No. 1 by Mark Rothko and 1963 for Transom by Rauschenberg) and have remarkable provenance, Rauschenberg’s work having been shown at several major exhibitions in the past. Although the estimates have not been disclosed yet, these two paintings could fetch tens of millions of dollars. They have already travelled around the world to be presented to prospective bidders (in Hong Kong from 17 to 20 January, 8 February in Shanghai, 11 to 13 February in Beijing, and 24 to 26 February in New York). After two major exhibitions, Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy and the Robert Rauschenberg retrospective at the Tate Modern, London continues to bank on American art, a guarantee of success.
The first months of the year traditionally open with the sales of Old Master drawings. The season began with Master Drawings in New York from 21 to 28 January, the highlight will be in March, on the other side of the Atlantic, with events such as the Salon du Dessin and its contemporary equivalents DDessin and Drawing now. The growing interest of collectors for this long ignored medium, compared to the other major art forms, is an opportunity for auction houses to add to their turnover throughout 2017. Christie’s New York started the ball rolling on 24 January with its Old Master & British Drawings sale. It was a great success: more than $6 million in sales, a figure almost twice that of the same sale in 2016. Among the 129 lots offered, a scene of Scipio welcomed outside the gates of Rome by Peter Paul RUBENS (1577-1640) fetched nearly $1.5 million, the 3rd highest sale for a drawing by this artist. A hunter and his dog by Goya sold for $1.1m. The sale also included a beautiful series of Italian drawings, with a superb portrait by Tiepolo sold for just under $200,000. The next day, Sotheby’s New York also offered for sale a series of drawings by major artists, especially in the British section. Sold for nearly $1.3 million, two Swiss landscapes by Joseph Mallord William TURNER (1775-1851) alone accounted for nearly a third of the proceeds of this sale. On 14 February, Artcurial will also sell a hundred drawings, before the major sale of the Gaston Delestre collection on 22 March, which will also see auctioned a series of 80 drawings by Baron Antoine-Jean Gros at the same time as the Salon du Dessin. It is the largest collection of drawings by this artist, outside the Graphic Arts department of the Louvre. This will be the opportunity to discover or rediscover the energy of Gros’ drawing, with the beautiful Bucephalus tamed by Alexander estimated at between $33,000 and $55,000 , or beautiful Orientalist drawings such as Turkish Lord on a horse, which could well exceed its estimate and beat the auction record for a drawing by the artist, a topographic sketch depicting Napoleon at Eylau, which sold for more than $82,000 in 2006 at Piasa. The 2017 season promises to be exciting and of high quality, with works still unreleased on the second market.
Founded in 1964 and considered as one of the oldest art fairs, BRAFA (Brussels Art Fair) has established itself as one of the most important cultural events during January in Europe. This 62nd edition ended on Sunday at Tours & Taxis with a new record of more than 60,000 visitors. Despite its established success, it is not resting on its laurels… The fair was dotted with monumental works by Julio LE PARC, famous pioneer of Kinetic art and guest of honour at the show. Adding to this rich selection of rare and high quality works, 13 new galleries joined the existing 132, giving a major boost to contemporary art, a category hitherto under-represented. Belgian galleries and artists were in the spotlight, notably with Wim DELVOYE‘s works on several stands, including that of the Rodolphe Janssen Gallery, which exhibited a rare series of 12 painted shovels. The gallery owner reported he had sold several works right from the start of the fair, including a huge deer at $170,000, drawings by Pierre ALECHINSKY estimated at between $19,000 and $23,000, and a dozen paintings by Concrete artist Léon WUIDAR. At Guy Pieters, a collection entitled The Carnival of the dead (the Royal family) by Antwerp artist Jan FABRE occupied almost the whole stand with gouaches that sold for close to $32,000. Among these very select national artists, two paintings and a drawing by James ENSOR (at Jamar) could also be seen, which could prove to be a strategic choice, as the artist obtained a world record of $6.8 million for Skeleton stopping the Masks at Sotheby’s in December 2016 in Paris. Comic strip art was also highlighted at the Belgian Fine Comic Strip Gallery, which featured several drawings by HERGÉ… The works of these prestigious names recognised as bestsellers in the art market indeed often exhibit the coveted small red dot. This fair is thus an exceptional showcase of works covering more than four millennia of art history, with enough eclecticism to whet and satisfy the appetites of Belgian collectors, a true artistic breeding ground which is centuries old.