Russian artists



Every fortnight Artprice provides you with a new or updated ranking in its Alternate-Friday Top Series. This week we present the 10 best auction results generated by Russian artists in 2010 – June 2011..

To start with… there is the $7.9 million just bid for Weisser Klang (White Sound) by Wassily KANDINSKY at the last session of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Evening Sale in New York. This result prompted us to look at the best results for Russian artists over the 18 months to June 2011.

Top 10 : best results for Russian artists (2010 – June 2011)

RanK Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Chaïm SOUTINE $10 385 900 Le valet de chambre 22/06/2010 (Sotheby’s London)
2 Alexej VON JAWLENSKY $10 000 000 Frau mit grünem fächer 03/05/2011 (Sotheby’s NY)
3 Nathalie GONTCHAROVA $9 083 520 Espagnole (c.1916) 02/02/2010 (Christie’s London)
4 Nikolay FESHIN $9 041 620 The Little Cowboy 02/12/2010 (Macdougall Arts Ltd. London)
5 Wassily KANDINSKY $7 114 800 Bayerisches Dorf mit Feld 21/06/2011 (Christie’s London)
6 Il’ia Efimovich REPIN $6 572 000 A Parisian Café 06/06/2011 (Christie’s London)
7 Nathalie GONTCHAROVA $5 642 700 Les arbres en fleurs… 09/02/2011 (Christie’s London)
8 Wassily KANDINSKY $5 000 000 Vertiefte regung … 05/05/2010 (Sotheby’s NY)
9 Marc CHAGALL $4 823 100 Bethsabée (1965) 10/02/2011 (Sotheby’s London)
10 Wassily KANDINSKY $4 204 200 SCHARF-RUHIG (1927) 21/06/2011 (Christie’s London)

Russian artists from the first Paris School

Chaïm Soutine
Since 2001 Chaïm SOUTINE’s price index has soared. Over the last ten years (2000 – 2010), his works have generated no less than 32 results above the $1m threshold and his prices peaked in 2006 – 2007 when L’homme au foulard rouge fetched his personal auction record of approximately £7.8m ($15.3m) at Sotheby’s in London (2007). After two difficult years, Chaim Soutine’s prices recovered in 2010 and his Le valet de chambre fetched $10.3m (£7m), his third-best result, on 22 June 2010 at Sotheby’s London (a result that exceeded his total auction revenue for 2008). The USA and the UK share 95% of his auction turnover (32% and 63%respectively).

Natalia Gontcharova
Nathalie GONTCHAROVA’s first seven-figure result came in June 2008 for a canvas of exploding colour, Les fleurs, that fetched £4.9m ($9.6m) at Christie’s in London. Natalia Goncharova’s price index has been particularly buoyant since 2006 when her total auction revenue exceeded her total for the seven previous years! In four years, her prices rose 84% and 2010 got off to an excellent start when her Espagnole fetched £4.9m ($9m) at Christie’s London on 2 February 2010, the artist’s second best-ever auction result.
Although Gontcharova’s work has already generated 15 results above the $1m line, her work can be acquired at affordable prices: 81% of her lots sold over the last twelve months fetched less than $10,000.

Marc Chagall
After a 67% contraction of his price index between 2008 and 2010, the prices of Marc CHAGALL’s work recovered back to their best 1990s levels with two results above $3.5m including $4.8m (£3m) for Bethsabée at Sotheby’s in London. Nevertheless, Chagall’s prices are still far behind his 1990 level when his work achieved global success with 24 paintings fetching million-plus figures in auction rooms around the world, including his all-time auction record of $13.5m for Anniversaire (1923) at Sotheby’s in New York.
With 1013 lots sold in 2010 alone (26th place in Artprice’s Top 500 artists by turnover in 2010), Marc Chagall is still the highest-priced and best-selling Russian artist on the market.
The US and the UK generate nearly 80% of his auction sales (50% and 27% respectively), while France and Switzerland share 13% of his market (3% and 10% respectively).

The professor and his students …
Il’ia Efimovich Repin
On 6 June 2011 at Christie’s London, Il’ia Efimovich REPIN recorded his best result for his superb painting A Parisian Café, which soared to £4m ($6.5m). This was indeed a new price dimension for the artist. In fact it was $5m better than his previous record in June 2009 and it pushed up his price index by 177% over the decade (2001-2011). Indeed, that auction record alone was equal to his aggregate auction revenue over the previous five years (2006-2010).
Repin’s market is very international: the UK, Finland and Sweden sell 33%, 30% and 16% of his auction lots and generate 83% of his auction revenue (57%, 9% and 17% respectively). The US, Germany and France only rarely sell his works (5%, 6% and 4%).

Nikolay Feshin
In December 2010, Nikolay FESHIN’s The Little Cowboy fetched £5.8m ($9m) against an estimate of £500,000 -£700,000. Before that sale, Feshin’s work had never even crossed the million-dollar line. That result alone generated almost half of the proceeds from the Russian Classic And Contemporary Art sale (246 lots) at Macdougall Arts Ltd in London on 2 December 2010. Just seven months earlier (5 May), the same work sold for $525,000 at William Doyle Auctions in New York. The acquirer at the Doyle sale therefore earned no less than $8.5million in just over one semester! Since that extraordinary result, two of Feshin’s oil paintings have each been acquired for over $1.5m, one in April and the other in November 2011.

Alexej von Jawlensky
On 3 May 2011, Alexej VON JAWLENSKY signed his second best auction result when Frau mit Gruenem Faecher found a buyer at Sotheby’s New York within its estimated range ($8-12m) at $10m. In 1975 this work sold for just £46,200 ($93,370) at Christie’s. The artist’s record is $16.5m for Schokko at Sotheby’s in February 2008.
The works of this Expressionist painter mainly interest UK and US auction houses which also generate 85% of his auction revenue (60% in the UK and 25% in the USA). However, the largest proportion of his works (47%) actually sells in Germany versus 31% in the UK and 13% in the USA.

What do Feshin and Jawlensky have in common? Both were students of Repin.

Wassily Kandinsky
Between May 2010 and June 2011, Wassily Kandinsky generated three new auction results in excess of $4.2 million each. The First Vertiefte regung (deepened impulse) sold for $5m on 5 May 2010 at Sotheby’s NY. A year later Bayerisches Dorf mit Feld and SCHARF-RUHIG fetched respectively $7.1m and $4.2m at Christie’s Impressionist & Modern evening sale in London on 21 June 2011.
Since 2010, the price index of this key figure of the Bauhaus movement has posted a 151% increase. Wassily Kandinsky’s most important works are regularly included in auction catalogues in London and New York, which alone generate 86% of his total annual auction revenue (49% in the USA and 37% in the UK). New York clearly has the best track record for Kandinsky with five results in excess of $7.9m, including his personal auction record of $19m for his Fugue, struck in May 1990 at the peak of the penultimate speculative bubble at Sotheby’s.