In the absence of other cultural news, the art world is continuing to discover the joys of online auctions which seem better adapted to dematerialization than other art forums. One consequence has been a very substantial rise in the sale of new creations via auction. Indeed, the number of ultra-contemporary artworks produced less than two years ago and already resold at auction is experiencing phenomenal growth. Several young artists have generated 5- or 6-digit results before their work has even been exhibited by a major museum.
Number of 'ultra-contemporary' works sold at auction
“Auctions are currently at the forefront of the international art scene, concentrating all the trends in the Art Market. That's why the Artprice Databases and our Decision Support Tools have never been so valuable” concludes thierry Ehrmann, President and Founder of Artmarket.com and of its Artprice department.
“Auctions are even attracting a significant section of the primary market; the latest records for Beeple and Banksy were established by works put on sale directly by the artists themselves”.
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Deprived of international art fairs, gallery openings and major exhibitions, collectors are paying more attention to works circulating in the auction sphere. This pushes up the prices which in turn encourages the holders of works by these popular artists to resell them. This stimulation of both supply and demand has allowed the emergence of young art market superstars in the space of just a few months.
Artists under the age of 40, who had never before generated auction results, have suddenly reached dizzying price points with extremely recent works (“the paint is still wet” as we used to say a few years ago). These results are all the more disconcerting for having demolished the estimates posted by the major auction houses, proving either that this acceleration has taken contemporary art specialists completely by surprise... or that they wish to remain cautious.
- Amoako Boafo (1984), The Lemon Bathing Suit (2019)
Estimated: $40,000 - $65,000
Price with fees: $881,400
13/02/2020 Phillips London
- Matthew Wong (1984-2019), The Realm of Appearances (2018)
Estimated: $60,000 - $80,000
Price with fees: $1,820,000
29/06/2020 Sotheby's New York
- Christina Quarles (1985), Tuckt (2016)
Estimated: $70,000 - $100,000
Price with fees: $655,200
08/12/2020 Phillips New York
On the need to remain vigilant
A few years, or even just a few months after their creation, these canvases have already been sold at auction. A situation that shocks the artists themselves, as Amoako Boafo explained in an interview with Bloomberg in February 2020, titled Hot New Artist Laments That His Work Is Being Flipped for Profit.
So far, the prices of this young Ghanaian artist are holding firm: his 34 paintings put up for sale since 1 January 2020 all found buyers in London, New York and Hong Kong. Artprice nevertheless remains extremely vigilant regarding the development of Amoako Boafo's market. His next work to come up for sales, a canvas titled Grace (2018) was acquired directly by the seller from the artist and will be offered at Sotheby's in Hong Kong on 20 April 2021.
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