Artprice: the 45th edition of the fiac! opens in a general climate of optimism, but...
The 45th edition of the FIAC opens on Wednesday 17 October in a general climate of optimism. Artprice's 2018 Contemporary Art Market Report reveals growth on a planetary scale, which the International Contemporary Art Fair in Paris and its numerous off shows are hoping will translate into buoyant sales:
Y-o-Y stability for Contemporary Art Market (2017/18 vs. 2016/17)
Global auction turnover rose +19% to a total of $1.9 billion
The number of lots sold increased by +17% with 66,850 adjudications
The global unsold rate remained stable at 39%
The Contemporary Art Price Index gained +18.5%
Artprice's 2018 Contemporary Art Market Report is available free of charge at
The Global Contemporary Art Market has posted exponential growth over the past 18 years (2017/18 vs. 2000/01)
Global turnover has risen +1,700% from $103 million to $1.9 billion
The number of auction transactions has multiplied 5.5x from 12,300 to 66,850 lots sold.
The top auction price has risen from $5.6 million to $110.5 million (respectively for Jeff Koons and Jean-Michel Basquiat)
Paris to put France back on the world stage
On the new global Art Market, driven essentially by Contemporary Art and dominated by New York, London, Beijing and Hong Kong (which account for 82% of the segment's global auction turnover), Paris is striving to defend its historical position and influence. But France's annual performance ($783 million in 2017) today represents only a little more than the turnover generated by a single prestige sale in New York at Sotheby's or Christie's.
According to Thierry Ehrmann, founder and CEO of Artprice, Paris is looking for a new lease of life. The City of Light wants to take full of advantage of its prestige and bring back buyers from around the world… it wants to recapture the high-end market. This ambition requires profound change and deep market restructuring, a process that has already begun. The future of Paris is today far more dependent on the FIAC and on the performances of the major Anglo-Saxon auction houses than on its traditional structures like Drouot and the Salon des Antiquaires.
All of the market's key ‘makers' at the Grand Palais
With 60 galleries French galleries among a total of 195, the FIAC ensures that French creation is not forgotten at the fair. Nevertheless, the FIAC's real strength is its superbly international roster of galleries. The FIAC would not be the FIAC without Blum & Poe, Pace, Lisson, Paula Cooper, Gavin Brown's Enterprise, Gladstone and of course David Zwirner, Gagosian, Marian Goodman, White Cube, etc.
The FIAC is an opportunity for all Contemporary Art lovers to see the world's most prestigious galleries gathered in Paris. For the big galleries, it's an opportunity to take part in a particularly selective meeting in one of the world's most majestic venues: the nave of the Grand Palais, where the Salon des Refusés was historically held, and which nowadays also hosts Paris fashion week.
The major galleries who deserted the FIAC usually come back sooner or later; this year sees the return of the giant Hauser & Wirth, New York's Canada and Paul Kasmin, the Belgian gallery Rodolphe Janssen (among others). But booths are expensive in the Grand Palais and the quality of the galleries is extremely high. Between those returning and those making their first appearance, the actual gallery turnover rate is only 16%, i.e. less than one booth in six.
If the FIAC's international offer has legitimised the fair on the international circuit, it now resembles other major fairs like Art Basel, the Armory Show and especially the Frieze, organized just two weeks earlier on the other side of the Channel (only 2h on the Eurostar). Moreover, a third of the French galleries present at the FIAC were also present at the Frieze... so in the end, the FIAC's French specificity is relatively small.
In fact, one of the Parisian fair's principal attractions is probably the exceptional, majestic setting offered by the Grand Palais. However, this superb venue will again be closed for works between 2021 and 2023, so it does rather look as though the FIAC will have to adapt its strategy in order to maintain its influence and ensure that collectors visit the temporary structure that will be installed in the Champ-de-Mars under the Eiffel Tower during the Grand Palais' closure.
Lots of auction records during Frieze
The auction houses have long understood the importance of organising prestige sales in parallel with the major fairs in order to take full advantage of the concomitant gathering of art professionals and collectors. Last year, 49 auctions were held in Paris (in 39 auction houses) during the FIAC week, generating $134 million in seven days (17% of French auction turnover on Fine Art sales in 2017). The year's two best results were also hammered during the week on 19 and 20 October 2017: Alberto Giacometti's Grande femme II (1960) fetched $29.4 million and Jean- Michel Basquiat's Jim Crow (1986) sold for $17.7 million.
This year again Christie's, Sotheby's and Artcurial (the top three French auction houses) are organizing their most important sales of the year in Paris during the FIAC. Others, including Leclere and Cornette de Saint Cyr, are waiting till the end of the event, but will be active as of Monday 22 October.
The major houses hope the spillover from the Paris FIAC will be as beneficial as that from the Frieze on London sales earlier in the month. Banksy's self-destructing Girl with Balloon (2006) attracted a lot of attention… but there were lots of other memorable results during the week, with three of the autumn's top ten global auction records, so far. Among these, Jenny Saville's Propped (1992) – a historical piece from the Young British Artists movement that was part of the Sensation exhibition in 1997 – fetched $12.4 million, a record for a living female artist, overtaking Cady Noland who held that record for three years after her Bluewald (1989) sold for $9.8 million at Christie's New York on 11 May 2015.
Top 10 auction records a (September - October 2018)
Artist - Work - Price - Sale
1 Zao Wou-Ki (1921-2013) - June-October 1985 - $65.204.489 - 30-09-2018 Sotheby's Hong Kong
2 Jenny Saville (1970) - Propped (1992) - $12.490.583 - 05-10-2018 Sotheby's London
3 Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968) - The party (1949) - $9,366,687 - 11-10-2018 Bonhams London
4 Albert Oehlen (1954) - Stier mit loch (1986) - $4,695,131 - 04-10-2018 Christie's London
5 Leon Bonnat (1833-1922) - Samson's Youth (1891) - $2,045,047 - 12-09-2018 Christie's London
6 Kyung-Ja Chon (1924-2015) - Prairie II (1978) - $1,928,504 - 19-09-2018 K-Auction Seoul
7 Hao Liang (1983) - Shell (2010-2011) - $1,855,061 - 30-09-2018 Sotheby's Hong Kong
8 Kaws ( 1974) - Again And Again (2008) - $1,348,952 - 05-10-2018 Sotheby's London
9 Wang Xingwei (1969) - Still no A-mark (1998) - $1,272,479 - 30-09-2018 Sotheby's Hong Kong
10 Lin Richard (1933-2011) - Painting Relief 12.12.63 - $1,165,161 - 30-09-2018 Sotheby's Hong Kong
The Art Market nevertheless showed some signs of caution in London, particularly at Christie's 4 October sale where two star lots, Jeff Koons' Cracked Egg (Blue) (1994-2006) and Gerhard Richter's Schädel (1983) failed to sell against estimates exceeding $10 million. However, overall, the initial results of the autumn season are extremely positive, often adding value, occasionally showing restraint... proving that the high-end market is capable of selecting the best pieces and of curbing price growth even for the most fashionable Contemporary artists.
The Paris major auction sales will therefore be held in a particularly favourable context. In addition to the annual sessions of 20th Century Art, the sale of the collections of Oscar Mairlot and Nathalie Seroussi at Sotheby's and of Benedicte Pesle at Christie's could well share the spotlight with the FIAC.
thierry Ehrmann : Artprice et Artron donnent naissance au Media Mogul de l'Art
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