In the first of a new monthly series, we’ve gathered thoughts and highlights from Artsy’s in-house experts on what they’re seeing, looking forward to, and enjoying in the art world this month.
What We’re Noticing
Installation view of Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2022. Courtesy of Art Basel.
Have we hit bottom?
Have we hit bottom? It’s the question on the tongues of collectors and economists alike. While the $1.5 billion Paul Allen sale at Christie’s last fall buoyed sales figures for the second half of 2022, numerous other auctions saw thinner-than-usual demand. At Miami’s December fairs, many dealers, through nervous smiles, reported a year-over-year decline in sales. Much like in the housing market, prices in the secondary market were slow to adjust to shifting macroeconomic conditions. And while plenty of collectors were still looking to buy, gone was the (irrational) exuberance of the first half of 2022, when prices across the market were whipped into a froth. In short, the notoriously illiquid art market froze even harder.
The new year appears to have brought a more favorable market with it. Falling inflation in the U.S. and EU has led to a blockbuster January for U.S. equities and there is a general sense that the deep recession that seemed inevitable last fall may not materialize to the extent that was previously expected.
As a result, buyers are returning to a less cautious stance. Sellers, meanwhile, are adjusting their pricing expectations to where demand levels stand today (though more would be wise to follow suit). Ultimately, the market moves increasingly look like a healthy correction of prices from a place that was, frankly, getting kind of nutty and forcing many would-be buyers to the sidelines.
—Alexander Forbes, Head of Collector Services & Private Sales, New York
Shift to secondary
After some market uncertainty towards the end of last year, we were expecting a slower start to 2023. January, however, has already seen a flurry of activity from collectors both in public and private markets, highlighted by the “Evening & Day Editions” sale at Phillips and the “Contemporary Discoveries” sale at Sotheby’s, bothin London.
Both sales offered works from established and blue-chip names such as Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin, and Damien Hirst. These names, bastions of the secondary market, are noted for their consistent demand and long-term investment potential.
This is no surprise as current macroeconomic headwinds take their toll on the wider market and push collectors to act with more sobriety and caution. A pattern is starting to materialize, as buyers look to bolster their collections with art market stalwarts such as those mentioned above. These names had fallen out of the spotlight in recent sales cycles in favor of rising emerging stars, whose markets, in some cases, have become hyperinflated.
—Edward Warburton, Private Sales Advisor, London
Installation view of Axel Vervoordt Gallery’s booth at Art SG, 2023. Courtesy of Axel Vervoordt Gallery.
Singapore enters the chat
Many of us tend to see the Asian art market as unipolar, with Hong Kong at its center. But as recent uncertainties loom around the city-state, it’s become tempting to find a substitute in the newly emerging markets across the region.
The highly anticipated (and highly delayed) Art SG fair that took place last month positioned Singapore as the latest contender. Collectors from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China flooded into the fair, along with a strong local showing from Singapore collectors.
Singapore’s appeal comes from its reputation as an efficient, convenient, and safe trading hub for galleries to sell to collectors from Southeast Asia. Sales from the fair were mixed, however. Some galleries with an established local collector base were rewarded for their work, while some exhibitors that were trying their luck for the first time in Singapore went home empty-handed.
Instead of finding the “next Hong Kong,” what lies ahead for the Asian art world might instead be an increasingly fragmented but more vibrant multipolar market, one which can hopefully benefit the artists across the region.
—Edward Tsoi, APAC Sales Team Lead, London
What We’re Anticipating
Installation view of “The New Bend” at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, 2023. Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth.
Gee’s Bend influence in the spotlight
Next month, I’m excited to get out of London and visit the newly opened exhibition “The New Bend” at Hauser & Wirth in Somerset, England—one of my favorite gallery venues. The curator, Legacy Russell, is an Artsy alumna, and her show brings together a new generation of artists inspired by the Gee’s Bend quilters.
I was first introduced to the African American women’s textile art community of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, 20 years ago at a landmark exhibition held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; it remains one of the most influential shows I’ve ever seen. It was one of the first major museum exhibitions focusing on “craft” or functional art by women of color that I’d experienced, giving it a platform historically reserved for painting and sculpture by white men.
This new exhibition features 12 contemporary artists “working in the raced, classed and gendered traditions of quilting and textile practice,” including Anthony Akinbola and Qualeasha Wood (both of whom were included in The Artsy Vanguard 2022), as well as Myrlande Constant, Tomashi Jackson, Basil Kincaid, Eric N. Mack, Sojourner Truth Parsons, and Zadie Xa.
—Meave Hamill, Senior Private Sales Advisor, London
Interior view of Frieze Los Angeles, 2020. Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy of Frieze.
A Friezing February
I am really looking forward to visiting Los Angeles for Frieze L.A. this month. Frieze is one of the major international art fairs, and it’s always fun to get some California sunshine during the coldest month of the year.
2023 marks Frieze L.A.’s fourth edition and the fair will be in a new, bigger location at the Santa Monica Airport with the design by Kulapat Yantrasast’s WHY studio.
The fair will bring new gallery shows and events across the city. I am particularly excited about the George Condo exhibition at the new Hauser & Wirth space in West Hollywood and the “Calder/Tuttle: Tentative” show at Pace Gallery. We regularly handle the sale of works by Condo and Alexander Calder, amongst many other great 20th- and 21st-century artists.
—Christine Aschwald, Head of Advisory, New York
I can’t wait to check out “Action, Gesture, Paint: Women Artists and Global Abstraction 1940–70,” a major exhibition opening at the Whitechapel Gallery in London which features over 150 works by 81 women artists hailing from across the globe.
Looking beyond the predominantly white male painters who dominated the Abstract Expressionist movement, the exhibition shines a light on the numerous international female artists who played a pivotal role in the development of abstract painting in the aftermath of World War II. It features works from Lee Krasner, Marta Minujín, Helen Frankenthaler, Behjat Sadr, Janet Sobel, and Wook-kyung Choi, among others, and more than half of the artworks on display have never been shown in the U.K. before.
The exhibition opens with Helen Frankenthaler’s four-meter abstract painting April Mood (1974). Last year, I saw a high demand for works by Frankenthaler, and facilitated a multimillion-dollar private sale of one of her works.
Perhaps, thanks to the exposure of this exhibition, we’ll continue to see momentum for female artists associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement, who have been narrowing the very wide gap between them and their male counterparts.
—George King, Senior Private Sales Advisor, London
Installation view of ARCOmadrid, 2022. Courtesy of ARCOmadrid.
It’s just a few weeks until the opening of ARCOmadrid, the internationally renowned art fair. Gallerists, collectors, dealers, and art lovers alike will look to find exciting new and historical works by artists from around the world.
This fair dates back to 1982 and since then has become one of the “go-to” fairs of the international art market. ARCO also promotes collecting through research and dissemination of contemporary art. This year, it has awarded prizes to three collections: Juan Vergez and Patricia Pearson de Vergez (for the Latin American Private Collection award); Collegium: Lorena Pérez-Jacome and Javier Lumbreras (for the Diffusion and Research of Contemporary Art from Collecting award), and Alejandro Lázaro and Alejandra González (Award for the National Private Young Collection).
With 185 galleries from 30 countries exhibiting works by more than 1,300 artists, the fair is a cozy but also adventurous art hub.
—Itziar Ramos Ricoy, Private Sales Advisor, London
The Artists We’re Loving Now
Australian artist Jonny Niesche—whose work is featured in our upcoming post-war and contemporary auction on Artsy—creates neon-hued minimalist “image-objects” that straddle the line between painting and sculpture. Reduced to their most fundamental elements—color, light, and perception—as clean finished products, his works are created in a complex, scientific manner. Niesche utilizes metal stretchers, voile, digital color palettes he makes himself, and dye sublimation (using heat to transfer dye).
The results are floating and pulsating expanses of carefully rendered pastel tones, inspired by makeup and dazzling stars. The works evoke a glamorous elegance. As Niesche explained to Avant Arte, “I always try to push the boundaries of taste.”
Niesche’s works are in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the National Gallery of Victoria, and the Art Gallery of South Australia.
—Celine Cunha, Post-War & Contemporary Auction Specialist, New York
Elizabeth Glaessner’s vibrant Green Ribbon (2022) provides a much-needed pop of color and a source of inspiration in an otherwise fairly quiet winter art season. New York gallery P.P.O.W featured this work in its Art SG fair booth in Singapore last month, and it was a standout piece for me from the fair previews.
I first fell in love with Glaessner’s work at “Phantom Tail,” her solo show at P.P.O.W last March. She went on to have a strong year in 2022, securing a solo exhibition at Perrotin Paris that fall and her first institutional show at the Consortium Museum in Dijon, France.
Glaessner’s pieces bring to mind a cohort of ultracontemporary female artists who continue to see strong enthusiasm in the market, such as Jo Messer, Diane Dal-Pra, Zoe McGuire, Lauren Quin, and Jana Schröder.
Glaessner’s large-scale canvases stand out from the crowd through her sophisticated, surrealistic depictions of elongated figures awash in dreamy, bold colors. Her subjects remain mysterious—the narratives aren’t always clear, but they deftly nod to traditional symbols of art history. I’m excited to follow her trajectory: Rumor has it she has a soon-to-be-announced debut solo show in L.A. later this year.
—Caroline Perkins, Private Sales Advisor, New York
Louis Fratino’s intimate portraits and sophisticated interior scenes, inspired by the history of classical and modern art, have attracted collectors’ and auction houses’ attention for the past few years. The artist’s highest record at auction has set the price for his canvas works at $730,000, and on average they have been selling for 100% to 200% above auction estimates, making Fratino one of the most in-demand artists at auction, according to the performance of Phillips’s “New Now” sales.
I am excited to bring to our collectors Self portrait drawing (2018), which has a great provenance as it was exhibited in the exhibition “O Youth and Beauty!” at the MAN_Museo d’Arte Provincia di Nuoro in Italy, which ran from September 2018 to March 2019.
The drawing has a meditative and peaceful aspect, heavily worked in colored pencil on paper and depicting the artist in the solitary act of creating with an almost melancholic tone. Drawing is a very important part of the artist’s practice: Fratino once said, “I make a lot of drawings on paper and I probably spend most of my time drawing in my sketchbook or on papers in the studio.”
—Daniela Bianco-Duppen, Senior Private Sales Advisor, London
Get in touch with our specialists and advisors to learn more about Artsy’s private sales, auctions, and other offerings.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the date of Elizabeth Glaessner’s first New York solo show.