Contemporary photography: +35% in 2004

[2005年03月21日]

 

In the mid-1990s, paintings were the only medium in the art market that investors considered of any speculative interest. But recently, with growing demand and a wave of artistic renewal, other creative formats have proved as, or more, lucrative than paintings. The photography market has been expanding rapidly for the past five years and is today one of the art world’s fastest-growth segments. Of 11,000 photographs offered at auction in 2004, 7,000 sold for a total of EUR 57 million, i.e a tenfold increase compared with twelve years ago. Photography prices increased on average by 7.6% per year between January 1994 and December 2004, compared with +4.4% for paintings.

France accounts for 20% of photography transactions and Germany is slightly ahead with 21.5%. However, the United States dominates this market with 37.5% of sales volumes and 80% of worldwide turnover. It was a tight race between Sotheby’s and Phillips for the leadership position in the photography market in 2004 with each house selling close to a thousand lots, generating EUR 17.3 million and EUR 16 million respectively.

The highest prices were recorded in the contemporary photographs segment, notably at the auction of the Baroness Lambert’s collection at Phillips on 8 and 9 November 2004. A string of artists beat their personal bests at this auction, which brought in almost USD 12.5 million (an all-time record for a photography auction). Some of the most spectacular bids were for works by Charles RAY (USD 470,000), Cindy SHERMAN (USD 420,000 for Untitled No. 92, 1981) and Mike KELLEY (USD 360,000 ). At Sotheby’s, America’s Richard PRINCE set a new record for a contemporary photograph with his triptych » Women Looking in the Same Direction « (1980) that went under the hammer for an impressive USD 650,000. Prince’s prices have risen 741% over the past ten years. For example, « The Entertainment Series: Russel » sold for USD 75,000 in 2004 compared with only USD 11,500 in 1993. Among other success stories at Sotheby’s we highlight the USD 470,000 sale for a Charles Ray in November and USD 400,000 for an Andreas GURSKY in May.
Contemporary photography prices jumped by 35% in 2004.

Examples of price growths for contemporary photographs in 2004

Artists
Price growth
Trends
Richard PRINCE
+187%

Louise LAWLER
+61%

Andreas GURSKY
+27%

Nan GOLDIN
+24%

Robert MAPPLETHORPE
+20%

Hiroshi SUGIMOTO
+13%

Larry CLARK
+4%

Vik MUNIZ
-1%

Robert GOBER
-8%

Cindy SHERMAN
-9%

Andres SERRANO
-9%

Thomas RUFF
-14%

Thomas STRUTH
-24%

Gerhard RICHTER
-33%

Manuel ÁLVAREZ BRAVO
-40%

While the market for American photographers has been booming, it has been a very different story for Germany’s top photographers, whose prices have been losing momentum over the past two years. Thomas Struth’s works lost 24% in 2004. Prices for photographs by Thomas RUFF and Bernd & Hilla BECHER also fell considerably: -14% and -32% respectivelyHowever, Andreas Gursky is one of the rare exceptions among contemporary German photographers. He became one of the most expensive artists with Untitled V, which sold for USD 560,000 at Christie’s London in February 2002. After falling between January 2003 and January 2004, his prices resumed an upward trend.