Alexander Seton puts on a show
When the major Contemporary Art fairs lend themselves to One Man Shows, the results are usually exceptionally good. Art Hong Kong 2012 (17-20 May) has reserved a solo exhibitions space at its ASIA One section, with a selection from roughly fifty galleries including Malingue gallery, the Kaikai Kiki Gallery, Tristian Koening and China Art Project. Among the artists represented, the young Australian Alexander Seton, defended by Sullivan+Strumpf Gallery Fine Art (Sydney), has already made a name for himself in the art world. Seton works primarily with white marble, a noble material that has made a strong return to the Contemporary Art scene since the appropriations of the British artist Marc Quinn (whose marble sculpture Venus Myth was acquired for $1 million).
While the young Alexander Seton also likes to sculpt in the marble and play on its historical significance and symbolism as an art medium, his artistic intention is quite different. His sculptures are highly detailed and are amazingly realistic. Indeed, the fineness of the detail invites viewers to touch the work and that is when the cold marble comes as a surprise because visually, one expects to feel the soft flexibility of a fabric. In short… a sculpture that one needs to “experience” in order to deconstruct its conceptual trap!
This work is full of promise and its nascent secondary market should be watched very closely
David Hockney, A Bigger Picture at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
David Hockney's landscapes are showcased at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, until 30 September 2012. Organized by the Royal Academy of Arts, in collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum and the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, this exhibition offers a broader view of the work of the British artist. The show brings together nearly 190 works, mostly created over the past eight years: oils, charcoal drawings and sketches alongside digital video and other drawings on iPad.
Born in England, Hockney likes to paint landscapes of his native Yorkshire and of California where he settled in the 1960s. David Hockney’s work is imbued with Californian light, and celebrates the country that would later become his primary market: 42% of his auction transactions representing 57% of his auction revenue has been generated in the United States over the past fifteen years.
It was also in New York that one of his “Californian” works set his personal auction record: Beverly Hills Housewives (1966-1967), an acrylic on canvas that fetched $7 million at Christie's NY on 13 May 2009. However, we note that 90% of his works fetch less than $27,000, because his paintings are rare in a Hockney market composed 84% of prints. David Hockney’s paintings remain rare at auction (less than 3% of transactions): none have been offered at auction in the major London and New York sales since the beginning of 2012.
Lots of exhibitions in Hong Kong
An unavoidable hub of the global art market, Hong Kong is currently the focus of much attention. While the Hong Kong International Art Fair (now managed by Art Basel) opens its doors, a number of significant side-events are taking place alongside one of the global art calendar’s most important fairs of the year. All the market heavyweights are present. Here are some examples.
The current holder of the world record for a photograph ($3.8m, Rhein II, Christie's New York, 8 November 2011), Andreas Gursky, will be presenting his first Asian exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery. The White Cube, which opened a gallery in Hong Kong in March, is showing the great Anselm Kiefer who generated more than $16 million in auction revenue in 2011. Sherrie Levine, who has just signed a new record of $800,000 for her Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp) (Christie's New York, 8 May 2012) will also be exhibiting her work at the Simon Lee Gallery. As for the unavoidable Yayoi Kusama, she is well represented with two exhibitions: one at the Opera Gallery and the other at Sotheby's. Indeed, the auction house is taking advantage of the excitement surrounding Hong Kong International Art Fair to inaugurate an exhibition space which will offer private sales. By choosing to invite Yayoi Kusama, 60% of whose auction transactions take place in Asia, Sotheby's can be sure of good results. Recall that her highest bid was hammered in 2012 in Tokyo at $1.4 million (for NETS-INFINITY WHXOTLO, at SBI Art Auction, 25 February 2012). Even if it was an immense work (2 x 10 metres) and even if Kusama had not signed a million-plus result since 2010, she is immensely popular on the Asian art market. At 141st place in our global ranking of artists by 2011 auction revenue, her auction record stands at $5.1 million (No.2, Christie's New York, 12 November 2008) which is also the world’s best result for a work by a living female artist.
The Littoral Zone: Marc Quinn hits Monaco (May 12 to October 15)
Planet, 9 meters long, weighing 6 tons, floats before the Oceanographic Museum of the Principality. The characteristics are those of a ship, but it is indeed a work by Marc Quinn that greets visitors to the exhibition "The Littoral Zone". Entirely devoted to one of the most famous of the “Young British Artists”, the exhibition begins with this masterful baby that genuinely seems to be weightless.
Inside, there are about sixty works by the artist, half of which are making their first appearance in public, all marked by his “obsession with life, death and the world of water” according to the artist. After Damien Hirst in 2010, the museum has confirmed its taste for this generation of British artists.
Marc Quinn had a very satisfactory year 2011 with record sales for Myth Venus (2006) and Microcosmos (SIREN) which sold for at $1 million and $750,000 respectively. These results, combined with 14 excellent results for his floral paintings, largely contributed to the explosion of his annual auction revenue from $1.9m in 2010 to $4.9 million the following year… more than double! With a booming market, 2012 may well produce some auction surprises for Quinn’s work. For example we could see the appearance on the secondary market of one of the few works in the series, heads moulded with his own blood. One of these heads, Self, is already attracting a lot of attention in Monaco.