Over the past two years the value of Robert Combas’ paintings (1957) has risen 40%. His large acrylics, especially those created in the late 1980s, now regularly fetch above $100,000 at auctions.
thierry Ehrmann: “With his market looking particularly dynamic, Robert Combas is today the second most sought-after living French artist after Pierre Soulages. Although his paintings still fetch much less than those of France’s grand master of abstraction, his latest auction results suggest a rapid growth in demand and an expansion of his market as far as Asia.”
In June 2017, the Chinese auction house Ravenel set a new auction record for Combas in Taiwan when his The Sun King(1987) sold for $214,500 (including fees). A year later, on 4 April 2018, La Prise de la Bastille (c.1989) and La bagarre de Zozo (1986) were each sold for $220,000 in Paris.
Boosted by these successive auction records, the enfant terrible of the Figuration Libre movement has proved he is still the best representative of French painting on the Contemporary Art Market.
As thierry Ehrmann puts it: “Combas is a one of our giants… he already has more than 5,000 auction results to his name..
Artprice Indicator: Value of The Sun King (1987) from 2000 to 2019
2018 was an excellent year for Robert Combas: 184 works were sold generating a total of $4.75 million. The market is trading more than forty years of artistic creation from his first canvases dated 1979 (the year he left art school in Saint-Etienne) to his most recent works.
However, the strongest demand focuses on works he produced from 1985 to 1995. Encouraged by rising prices, more and more collectors are selling major works they have sometimes kept for more than 20 years generating a virtuous market circle as Combas gains additional visibility.
The results speak for themselves: 8 of his top 10 auction results have been hammered since 2017.
Top 10 Best Auction Results for Robert Combas
Ranking – Work – Price – Sale (date and place)
- La bagarre de Zozo (1986) – $220 350 – 04/04/2018, Artcurial, Paris
- La prise de la Bastille (c. 1989) – $219 200 – 04/04/2018, Desbenoit, Paris
- Le Roi Soleil (1987) – $212 500 – 03/06/2017, Ravenel, Taïwan
- Il suffit de passer le pont (1992) – $212 400 – 19/03/2019, Sotheby’s Paris
- Louis XIV (1985) – $207 700 – 28/03/2013, Cornette de Saint Cyr, Paris
- Le chien à cinq pattes (1987) – $190 500 – 05/06/2018, Artcurial, Paris
- La charrette des Condamnés (c. 1979) – $190 000 – 04/06/2018, Desbenoit, Paris
- La gitane amoureuse (1988) – $184 500 – 03/12/2018, Artcurial, Paris
- Les 4 peluches de l’Ave Maria (1987) – $176 500 – 04/04/2012, Artcurial, Paris
- Nolon (1987) – $169 500 – 06/12/2017 – Sotheby’s, Paris
With France accounting for 87% of his lots sold, the core of Combas’ market remains French. However, his works are now selling well beyond France and Belgium, having already reached England and even Asia. The American market has so far resisted his prolific painting practice which is reminiscent of Keith Haring’s.
Robert Combas’ paintings now sell for somewhere between $15,000 and $200,000, depending on the size of the work, its subject, its provenance, etc. However, many of his works on paper are still accessible for less than $10,000, while his prints and his three-dimensional multiples usually change hands for between $1,000 and $5,000.
In the fall of 2018, the Parisian gallery Laurent Strouk presented his most recent works, created during the previous summer in Sète, a town on France’s Mediterranean coast where Combas lived as a child.
The exhibition entitled Le Théâtre de la Mer showed his latest paintings, but also his latest sculptures, as well as some pieces of furniture (chairs, lamps, rugs). Indeed, Robert Combas has never limited his creativity to any particular medium and has always given free rein to his inspiration… including T-shirts, trousers, guitars and a variety of other formats.
As his latest auction results show, Robert Combas is enjoying a new international visibility. Most of his production is still affordable, but that could soon change. His prices have shown strong long-term growth, +500% since 2000, that has accelerated over the last 24 months.
Copyright ©2019 thierry Ehrmann – www.artprice.com
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