News-Antique.com - Feb 09,2011 - There is really not just one dominant “art market” that one can refer to anymore. Once upon a time when one referred to the art market they were generally referring to the global leaders England and the USA, with perhaps the French market included depending on who you talked to and what their allegiances were. Now, however, there are so many more highly influential markets emerging on a regular basis that it has become extremely difficult to trace, track and predict art market movements – not totally impossible though. My last post focussed on the art market trends that I have seen emerge during 2010, which were identified primarily from observing auction sales throughout the year. With this post I want to look a bit further into those trends and the reasoning behind them.
The arte povera trend that I mentioned in my previous post on art market trends is not exclusive to the auction world. Some of the world’s top contemporary galleries are exhibiting works that have obvious ties with the concepts and characteristics that one associates with the Arte Povera movement – in particular the use of found objects. For instance, the Barbican Gallery recently held a special exhibition of work by Damian Ortega, a Mexican artist who has strong associations with the White Cube gallery, which consisted of a number of installations using found objects. New York’s Gagosian Gallery chose to use one of Rauschenberg’s ‘Combine’ paintings, a series of works that incorporate found objects and reproduced images, as the feature image of their Rauschenberg show that finished in November 2010. In fact, the first three works of the exhibit were from the artist’s ‘Combine’ series. Since September Hauser and Wirth have exhibited a sculpture by Martin Creed titled ‘Work No. 700’ (2007), three progressively slimmer steel I-beams balanced on top of each other. Creed’s steel girders are left in their used, practical state, which once again fits in with the “found object” trend.
If I can divert back to the auction market for a moment, the January 11-12 2011 Christie’s sale of items from the estate of Dennis Hopper included a particularly interesting array of works that perfectly reflect the current market trends that I have been talking about. A range of junk assemblages by George Herms, an artist who many consider to have been overlooked by the art world, attracted a particularly high level of attention and sold for several times the estimate. The Hopper sale also included a noticeably high number of collage works – another trend that I consider an extension of the “found object” trend. A “found object” collage by Bruce Conner titled ‘Picnic on the Grass’ took the third highest price of the auction reaching a fantastic $96,100 against an estimate of $10,000-$15,000. According to the Christie’s press release “Conner was a key artist in the development of assemblage art, a movement of found-object sculpture that critic Peter Plagens defined as “the first home-grown California modern art.” Hopper’s collection boasts several