Monday, March 10, 2008

More Evidence of a Shift in the Art Market

No, not from "hot" to "not hot," but rather (as I noted way back when) from Old Masters and even Modern to Post-War and Contemporary. Back in May, I noted, based on several conversations with folks who watch these things closely, that
the best Picassos are already picked over and collectors who want to build a serious collection of high-quality work need to move on to the post-war / contemporary market.
Reports from the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht (the Old Masters art fair) confirm this:

Some fair veterans said that patchy sales did not surprise them because they found the offerings a bit disappointing. “There were not enough star pictures,” said Ian Kennedy, curator of European paintings and sculpture at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. “Dealers simply can’t find them.”

Apart from the scarcity of undeniably great works, auction houses are muscling into the private-sales turf once dominated by dealers.

This being the heart of old-master country, however, there were a few exceptional examples. Noortman Master Paintings, a Maastricht gallery bought by Sotheby’s two years ago, was showing a Rembrandt self-portrait from 1632 priced at $27.7 million. “It’s the last Rembrandt self-portrait to buy in the world,” said William Noortman, who has run the business since his father, Robert, died last year. [emphasis mine]

Indeed, further evidence that the market is shifting was found in the form of the very first video piece to grace the legendary fair:
In the center of [Huanchof Venison's] booth, in a small darkened room, is “Isolde’s Ascension (The Shape of Light in the Space After Death),” a video by Bill Viola priced at $300,000. While video art is old hat at contemporary art fairs, this is believed to be a first for the European Fine Art Fair. It was the first thing the gallery sold on Thursday.

Harry Blain, a director of Haunch of Venison, said that collectors in other fields like old masters and the 19th century were beginning to migrate to contemporary art. “So this is the perfect arena,” he said.

OK, so I have to fess up. I might have jumped the gun here a little bit. Modern works seem to be still pretty much in play. At least according to this report:
Modern art was plentiful, too. During the last few years the show’s organizers have tried to strengthen the modern and contemporary selection to compete with Art Basel in Switzerland, which is held every June. At Mr. Nagy’s booth, for instance, there were examples of German Expressionist artists who have been all the rage recently. Among the stars were “Woman From Pozzuoli,” a 1925 portrait by Christian Schad priced at $3 million, and an Egon Schiele watercolor “The Dancer Moa,” offered for $4.5 million.
Still the fact that dealers are talking about "the last Rembrandt self-portrait to buy in the world" has to bode well for the Post-War and Contemporary markets.

Labels: art market


Anonymous oil paintings said...

I believe you are truly right about this shift. All the classic artists and anyone associated with them is out of the price range for most individuals, yet there are some great works out there available if you just shop around a little bit in the lesser known circles.

3/10/2008 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about Spitzer, Edward. Wonder why the feds were wiretapping him in the first place, though.

3/10/2008 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Off topic -- I love how you've added a new middle name. I think I might do the same. But did you see how The Colbert Report made a big deal about how Rodham rhymes with Saddam?

3/10/2008 06:33:00 PM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

Lisa, now I feel like the _biggest_dope_ever_. I watched the Rodham bit, and the joke completely eluded me.

3/10/2008 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hussein Hunter said...

Inspired by Ed, there's now a Facebook group called Change Your Middle Name to Hussein:

Spread the word.

3/10/2008 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

that's awesome Lisa. Thanks! I just joined. Does that make 2 of us now?

As I noted on another thread, though, I can't take credit for the idea. Saw it on a political blog (can't recall which). Anyone else see the original suggestion?

3/10/2008 07:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


3/10/2008 09:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr Biobrain added Hussein to his name on digby's blog. That was the first time I saw it.

3/11/2008 10:50:00 AM  

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