Top 10 for Latin American artists


It’s Top 10 Friday! Every other Friday, Artprice posts a theme-based auction ranking. This week let’s discover the Top 10 results last year for Latin American artists under the age of 50.

The market for young Latin American artists has dropped considerably compared to the records set between 2013 and 2015. During this key period, major cultural institutions and prestigious galleries showed unprecedented enthusiasm for these artists. The highlight of these years was undoubtedly the exhibition Pangea: New Art from Africa and Latin America at the Saatchi Gallery, London (2014). The record prices reached then have yet to be repeated, notably for artists such as Bosco SODI and Ivan NAVARRO, but also Brazilian graffiti artist Osgemeos and the then new star of the art market, Oscar MURILLO.

Rank Artist Hammer Price ($) Artwork Sale
1 Oscar MURILLO (1986) 244 700 Just Dreams 06/10/2017 Phillips Londres
2 OSGEMEOS (1974) 76 871 Cantar Ciranda È Como Se Aventurar …
08/12/2017 Sotheby’s Hong Kong
3 Christian ROSA (1982) 75 000 Untitled 28/02/2017 Phillips New York
4 Ivan NAVARRO (1972) 68 750 Untitled 17/11/2017 Sotheby’s New York
5 Alexandre ARRECHEA (1970) 62 500 Sherry Netherlands 21/11/2017 Phillips New York
6 Carlos AMORALES (1970) 52 500 The horny ghost 25/05/2017 Sotheby’s New York
7 Bosco SODI (1970) 51 815 Untitled 29/06/2017 Sotheby’s Londres
8 Federico HERRERO (1978) 47 500 Amansalva 22/03/2017 Christie’s New York
9 Angel OTERO (1981) 42 678 SK HX 05/10/2017 Phillips Londres
10 LOS CARPINTEROS (1991) 32 500 “Plano de la Habana” 03/03/2017 Christie’s New York
copyright © 2017

Although Oscar MURILLO remains unquestionably the most well-known Latin American artist of his generation, far ahead of the other artists in this Top 10, his sales have fallen sharply, with annual revenues dropping from nearly $4 million to $1 million between 2013 and 2017. His best sale in 2017 was for Just Dreams at $244,700 while the artist’s work sold for $400,000 four years ago.

It’s a similar story for Ivan NAVARRO, the Chilean artist who has lived and worked in New York since 1997 and is best known for his work with light, his optical games and minimalism. Between 2013 and 2014, two of his very original works, at the frontier between art, architecture and design, sold for over $100,000. Some neon works, limited to three copies only, change hands for between $15,000 and $30,000.

The artist Angel OTERO is in the same boat. When they first appeared at auction in 2013, several of his works sold for over $50,000 in New York and London. His sales ran out of steam slightly in 2017 but his best paintings are now selling for between $40,000 and $42,000. Born in Puerto Rico in 1981, Angel OTERO lives in New York, where he is represented by Lehmann Maupin. His mostly abstract works are also well received by museums.

Another abstract artist of note is the Brazilian Christian ROSA, who practises a kind of laid back automatic writing. His work was first auctioned in July 2014 in London, at the precise time of the major Pangea exhibition, held at the influential Saatchi Gallery and in which he was exhibiting. During these first steps in building his reputation, Christian Rosa was very well supported as several bidders pushed his Ruff Nec painting as high as $170,000, which was 10 times the low estimate. This rapid rise was confirmed by other paintings selling for more than $100,000 in the following months, with a record set at $209,000 in November 2014, this time in New York (Christie’s). In the spring of 2015, when the prestigious White Cube Gallery offered the artist his first solo show in the UK, the world seemed to be his oyster. But when young artists see the price of their work rise that fast thanks to the influence of trend-setting galleries, dealer friends and powerful auction houses, it is like being on a roller-coaster ride. This was the case for Christian Rosa, with six-figure auctions sales three or four years ago, followed by failures to sell or significantly lower prices. In 2017, works of the same quality as those previously selling for record prices went under the hammer for less than $30,000.

The Latin American market is indeed now on the up. But dealers will have to make a long-term investment in their young artists to support them in the years to come, otherwise the shooting stars of today could quickly fall into oblivion. But this reevaluation does not affect the entire Latin American scene, only the artists whose prices have risen too quickly. On the other hand, Mexican artist Carlos Amorales, whose works are rare at auction but whose reputation has been built over 13 years, has just set a new absolute record in 2017. Some large paintings are still available for around $10,000 and some have even entered the collections of major museums, such as the Guggenheim and MoMA in New York.