Whitehot Magazine

November 2013: October Art Market Report



 “Courbet” by artist Dan Rushton (far right) at DUTTON’s booth, Texas Contemporary 2013


By Shireen Lohrasbe

KOREAN INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR ran October 3–7. This year, KIAF presented 183 galleries repping 1,500 artists (and 6000 works) from 15 countries, with a focus on Germany. According to Art Media Agency, “A number of Korean galleries [were] represented, including: the Arario Gallery, the Kukje Gallery, Gana Art, and the Hyundai Gallery, alongside a range of international galleries including Kálmán Makláry Fine Arts (Budapest), l’Opera Gallery (Paris), Able Fine Art NY Gallery (New York), Sabina Lee Gallery (Los Angeles), Pearl Lam Galleries and Hadda Contemporary from London.”

THE 11TH EDITION OF FRIEZE LONDON, sponsored by Deutsch bank, showcased 152 galleries in early October. The fair drew 70,000 people, capping ticket sales for better crowd control. Also, more mid-ranged works were offered. According to The Wall Street Journal: “They have cut by 20% the number of available tickets, including those for VIPs, and reduced the number of galleries presenting their works to 152 from 175 last year. Meanwhile, some galleries that formerly brought in a range of artists are turning to one-artist booths to boost the profiles of lower-priced new or middle-market artists.”

SISTER FAIR FRIEZE MASTERS added 30 galleries for a total of 131 dealers. Bloomberg reported that most of the lucrative sales took place there. For example, “Acquavella Galleries sold Picasso’s 1961 painting ‘Femme assise au chapeau’ to the Greek collector Dimitri Mavromatis for $7 million.”

DUBBED “FRIEZE WEEK”, THE MAIN FAIR is always accompanied by simultaneous auctions and satellite exhibitions. According to Bloomberg, 2013 opened “with a record 10 fairs, auctions and dealer shows, push[ing] the total value of the art for sale to as much as $2 billion. Christie’s made $44.9 million during it’s Post-War and Contemporary evening sale, while Sotheby’s accumulated $34.3 Million.”
          ArtTactic’s Auction Analysis tallied all the PwC sales in London. In total, the auctions raised £52.2 Million/$84.2 Million, excluding buyer’s premium. “This was 8% lower than the pre-sale estimate range of £56,575,000-£80,790,000. Although higher than the peak of the art market in 2008, this year’s total fell 24% short of last year’s October sales of £68,527,000. Both Sotheby’s and Phillips failed to reach the low pre-sale estimate, with only Christie’s Evening sale meeting the market expectations… the market was driven by high value lots (£1m-£5m) accounting for 44% of the total sales value, however, this was down from 64% in October 2012. As signalled in the ArtTactic US & European Art Market Confidence Survey in July 2013, confidence in the middle price segments are on the increase. The £100,000-£500,000 range accounted for 33% last week - an indication that buyers might be looking for value in the middle-market.”

AFRICAN ART WAS A MAJOR FOCUS during Frieze Week. Julia Halperin at The Art Newspaper wrote, “There is more art made by African artists on show in London than ever before. ‘Europe and the US are tired of what they’re seeing and are looking for new ideas,’ says Joost Bosland, a partner at Stevenson.” With little government funding, much of the burden is placed on wealthy niche collectors to get the word out. As Halperin stated, “Because few African governments invest in art, private money has sought to fill the gap.” Even institutional support is somewhat lagging. Case in point: The Tate, with its comprehensive African art collection, only recently launched a region-specific acquisitions committee.
          In terms of Contemporary African art auction tallies in London, Ian Evans at The Star reported: “A sale of South African art in London raised nearly R53 million on Wednesday, including R19.6m for a work by Irma Stern. Giles Peppiatt, director of South African art at auctioneers Bonhams, said the sale highlighted the growing interest in the country’s artwork alongside wider African art from countries like Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda. He said: ‘We’ve been holding these sales for 10 years now and they’ve grown in popularity. A lot of it is fuelled by great artists like Stern, Sekoto and Pierneef, but there’s also buyers looking for the ‘next big thing’ after a peak in the contemporary Chinese art market… The African and South African market had a lax time a few years ago but now it’s as strong as ever.’”

FIAC (FOIRE INTERNATINAL D’ART CONTEMPORAIN) opened the following week. The Parisian fair attracted 73,000+ visitors (beating rival Frieze’s attendance). Matthew Armstrong, curator of the Lightyear Capital art collection in New York told Scott Reyburn Bloomberg, “They’re now comparable in quality and newness…FIAC is getting better, Frieze is getting a bit more predictable”
          In terms of top sales, a large-scale Jean Dubuffet sculpture was acquired for approximately $6 Million via Waddington Custot gallery. Art Market Monitor reported: “Further sales of works by artists such as Picasso and Pierre Soulages saw Waddington Custot take about $9 million at FIAC, according to gallery founder Leslie Waddington… Dickinson: sold the 1969 painting ‘Shirt Collar 14 ½’ by the Italian Arte Povera artist Domenico Gnoli, priced at 2.5 million pounds ($4 million).”

THE 3RD EDITION OF TEXAS CONTEMPORARY transpired October 10–13. Organized by artMRKT, Texas Contemporary teamed up with Paddle8 this year to launch a program called MRKTworks. “The auction went live on Paddle8, Oct 13 with 100% of the proceeds from each piece… donated to [a] corresponding beneficiary.”
          Texas Contemporary is already considered one of Houston’s leading contemporary shows (an impressive title to earn in a few short years). Tyler Rudick at Culture Map explained, “After three years of duking it out with the Houston Fine Art Fair for a slice of the local collectors' market, Texas Contemporary Art Fair appears to be settling into its own role as the hipper cousin to the HFAF's respected stable of high-end international galleries… Texas Contemporary's cadre of 70 galleries — including 13 from Houston (compared to eight at the HFAF) — seem to veer more towards canvas work in this year's fair.”

THE 15TH EDITION OF ART INTERNATIONAL ZURICH took place October 11–13. The fair clocked 18,000+ attendees, 2800 during the Vernissage alone. Sales figures have yet to be released.

THE 9TH EDITION OF ARTBO—the international art fair of Bogotá, Columbia ran October 25–28. This year, artBO presented 65 galleries from 21 countries and attracted over 20,000 visitors. Figures have yet to be released.

THE 14TH EDITION OF ART TORONTO closed October 27 with strong sales. It drew 19,000+ visitors over the course of four days. AXA art was the fair’s official insurer and it “partner[ed] with Artsy in providing an online preview of the fair and opportunity for exhibitors to connect with the over 200,000 subscribers to the site.”

HONG KONG: A SLEW OF SALES TRANSPIRED in October, far-surpassing expectations. François Curiel, president of Christie’s Asia told Desiree Au at the New York Times, “Hong Kong represented 4 percent of group sales in 2008 and are now 18 percent of sales and growing... Chinese paintings led the market in Hong Kong this year, with sales of $130.9 million, compared with $84.9 million for the same period a year ago.”
          Sotheby’s HK 40th Anniversary Evening Sale fetched $1.13 Billion HKD/ $145 Million USD. This was “the highest total for any comparable sale in Asia, more than doubling the previous record.” The top lot was Zeng Fanzhi’s “The Last Supper” which sold for HK$180,440,000 / US$23,273,151, setting a new record for any living Chinese artist. Other auctions performed similarly well. According to Jason Chow at The Wall Street Journal, “Collectors snapped up collectibles worth close to 5.7 billion Hong Kong dollars, or US$735.1 million, over the past five days, as auction houses Sotheby’s, Poly Auction and China Guardian went head to head in Hong Kong… Poly, mainland China’s biggest auction firm and the third largest in the world, generated HK$989 million over its three-day sale. Guardian, the mainland’s second-largest auction house, realized HK$510.1 million over its two-day weekend sale event.”

THE 7TH EDITION OF ARTPRICE’S Contemporary Art Market Annual Report has been released. The 2013 report which analyzed auction sales from July 2012–June 2013 revealed “global auction turnover from Contemporary art has exceeded the 1 billion threshold.”





Shireen Lohrasbe

Shireen holds a BBA in Design & Management from Parsons The New School for Design and an MA in Art Business from Sotheby's Institute of Art, New York. She has contributed to several online publications including Art Observed, Quintessentially Art, and Whitewall Magazine. Shireen is a regular art market contributor at Whitehot Magazine.

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