Record-Breaking Year for Contemporary Art

Record-Breaking Year for Contemporary Art

(AFP) — The contemporary art market experienced a record-breaking year in 2013/14, smashing through the $2 billion mark for the first time, according to new figures released on Tuesday.

US artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died in 1988, Jeff Koons and Christopher Wool remain the market’s biggest stars accounting for sales at auction of 339 million euros ($436 million), according to Artprice, a Paris-based organisation which keeps the world’s biggest database on the contemporary art market.

In the year from July 2013, sales of contemporary art at public auctions reached $2.046 billion dollars, up 40 percent on the previous year, Artprice’s annual report said

Thirteen pieces alone fetched more than 10 million euros ($12.8 million) each, compared with four in the previous year.

Pop artist Koons, the subject of a major retrospective due to be held at Paris’s Pompidou Centre at the end of November, currently holds the record for the most expensive work of art by a living artist ever sold at auction.

His “Balloon Dog” went under the hammer in November 2013 at Christie’s in New York, for a record $58.4 million.

The rest of Artprice’s top ten is made up — in order — of Zeng Fanzhi (China), Peter Doig (Britain), Richard Prince (US), Martin Kippenberger (Germany) who died in 1997, and three more Chinese artists — Luo Zhongli, Chen Yifei and Zhan Xiaogang.

Fanzhi’s 2001 painting “The Last Supper” was sold at auction in Hong Kong last year for $23 million.

Despite the presence of Basquiat and Kippenberger in Artprice’s top rankings, the body’s president and founder Thierry Ehrmann told AFP “the old adage that ‘a good artist is a dead artist’ was changing”.

Of the three top-selling contemporary artists, defined as artists born after 1945, Basquiat maintained his lead in 2013/14 with sales worth around 162 million euros while Koons and Wool clocked up 115 million euros and 61 million euros ($78 million) respectively.

If US artists remained ahead on individual sales, China has overtaken the US in terms of overall market share.

China now has 40 percent of the world market with sales worth $811 million compared to $752 million for the US.


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