The year 2008 marked a turning point for the Art Market and for the global economy as a whole. In retrospect, Sotheby’s 15 September 2008 sale Beautiful Inside My Head Forever dedicated to works by Damien Hirst – just hours before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Bank and its repercussions on art sales throughout the world – now looks like the swan song of a different era.
However, as thierry Ehrmann, Founder/CEO of Artprice tells us, “The impact of the financial crisis did not affect artistic creation; the significant changes we have seen since 2008 are essentially due to changes within the internal structure of the Art Market.
“The main development is of course the growth of the Chinese market, but we have also seen the growth of Art as a financial investment. Negative or near-zero interest rates, which undermine the value of savings, have increasingly pushed capital towards alternative investments… and Art generates very attractive returns. The large number of artworks created over the last ten years that have already sold in public auctions prove that Contemporary Art represents a sensational market.”
Global Fine Art auction turnover
Artprice presents 10 artists who have already marked the secondary market with works created after the 2008 financial crisis.
1. Cui Ruzhuo (b. 1944): The Grand Snowing Mountains (2013)
$39,577,000 – 4 April 2016, Poly Auction, Hong Kong
The Chinese painter Cui Ruzhuo is one of the most successful living artists in the Art Market, on a par with Gerhard Richter and David Hockney. However, unlike the latter two, his best works – those for which demand is the strongest – are his most recent. The result hammered for a mountain-scene panorama measuring over 8 meters wide and 3 meters high – The Grand Snowing Mountains (2013) – illustrates the immense success of this new giant of Chinese painting who remains far too unknown in the West.
2. Jeff Koons (b. 1955): Popeye (2009/11)
$28,165,000 – 14 May 2014, Sotheby’s, New York
A month before his retrospective began at the Whitney Museum (27 June 27 – 19 October 2014), the Prince of Kitsch Jeff Koons saw his Popeye sculpture (2009/11) become the subject of furious bidding at an evening sale at Sotheby’s New York. The sculpture, the first in a series of three, was to be one of the highlights of the Jeff Koons exhibition at the Whitney Museum, and was also shown at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Bilbao Guggenheim.
3. Mark Grotjahn (b. 1968): Untitled (S III Released to France Face 43.14) (2011)
$16,767,500 – 17 May 2017, Christie’s, New York
Represented by the Gagosian Gallery since 2008, the American painter Mark Grothjahn saw his prices rise gradually until 2017. Then, in the space of just twelve months, his price index shot up 75%… before falling back again the following year. In 2018, another of his large format paintings, Untitled (Black over Red Orange “Mean as a Snake” Face 842)(2010), fetched $7,073,000.
4. Gerhard Richter (b. 1932): Abstraktes Bild (2009)
$9,093,300 – 5 March 2019, Sotheby’s, London
Large abstract paintings by Gerhard Richter are among the most expensive artworks in the world. In February 2015, Abstraktes bild (1986) fetched over $46 million setting a sensational record for Germany’s Art Market leader. The sale of Abstraktes Bild (2009) shows that collectors are increasingly valuing his recent production, which could be as valuable as his earlier works (1965 – 1990) in the long run.
5. Rudolf Stingel (b. 1956): Untitled (2012)
$7,939,000 – 8 March 2018, Phillips London
Rudolf Stingel is also supported Larry Gagosian and has also greatly benefited from the dealer’s international power and standing. In 2015, the Gagosian presented Stingel’s work in Asia for the first time with a series of paintings Untitled(2012) that reproduced wall fragments from his double exhibition at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art and the Whitney Museum in New York in 2007. During those shows, visitors were invited to write inscriptions of all kinds on the walls of the two prestigious museums. Stingel reproduced certain details using electro-formed copper which he subsequently covered with gold.
6. Jin Shangyi (b. 1934): Peony Pavilion (2013)
$7,829,400 – 31 May 2014, China Guardian, Canton
Chinese painter Jin Shangyi is a master oil painter. Known for his portraits (including female nudes in the late 1980s), he is one of the most original Chinese artists of his generation. His work was much in demand in 2013, as shown by the value of his 1999 canvas Monk Painter Kun Can:
– $2,088,500, 13 May 2007 – China Guardian, Beijing
– $6,326,500, 1 June 2013 – Poly Auction, Beijing
– $4,436,500, 16 June 2018 – China Guardian, Beijing
7. Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929): Pumpkin (TWPOT) (2010)
$6,937,500 – 1 April 2019, Sotheby’s, Hong Kong
She is the most successful female artist on the global Art Market, all periods of creation combined. The 707 works by Yayoi Kusama auctioned around the world in 2018 generated $103 million, covering more than sixty years of artistic creation from the early 1950s to canvases painted in the past 5 years, which are already being resold.
8. Adrian Ghenie (b. 1977): Boogeyman (2010)
$6,354,000 – 5 October 2018, Sotheby’s, London
The youngest artist in this ranking and the figurehead of new European expressionism, the Romanian painter Adrian Ghenie joined the Pace Gallery in 2013 and his work has already been purchased by some of the world’s leading Contemporary Art museums, including the Centre Georges Pompidou. Both tenebrous and colorful, his paintings do not hide the influence of Van Gogh and Francis Bacon, sometimes with quite direct references.
9. George Condo (b. 1957): Nude and forms (2014)
$6,162,500 – 17 May 2018, Christie’s, New York
In 2018, George Condo conquered the world. With more than $55 million in auction turnover between New York (56%), London (30%) and Hong Kong (12%), Condo is one of the top 50 most successful artists of all time. His market is now more active than that of Jasper Johns or Frank Stella.
10. Mark Tansey (b. 1949): Hedge (2011)
$5,653,000 – 14 May 2015, Phillips, New York
Although Mark Tansey’s works rarely appear at auction (a total of just 103 lots over the last 30 years), demand is ever-stronger for his work. Today his market is entirely divided between New York (90%) and London (10%), but he is very likely to be sold in Asia soon.