International contemporary art driven by Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg



The contemporary art market has been doing fairly well of late, and the last big auctions of the year have reaffirmed the trend. The wealthiest US investors are continuing to support new art. Record after record has been falling in New York, and not only for American artists.

No fewer than ten records fell at the Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg Contemporary Art sale on 13 November. However, bids still came in lower than at Sotheby’s or Christie’s, reflecting the auction houses’ very different selection policies. While Phillips plumped for an audaciously modern set of works, Sotheby’s and Christie’s have been playing a safer hand for more than a decade, offering more classic American pieces from the likes of Jasper JOHNS, Clyfford STILL, Alexander CALDER, Joan MITCHELL, Willem DE KOONING, Roy LICHTENSTEIN, Andy WARHOL. The strategy has proved good for business. Under the hammer of Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening sale of 12 November turned over USD 74m, more than making up for the poor figures from May (see ArtMarketInsight of 21 May 2003). This performance is down to some very attractive lots. Among the most significant were Spike’s Folly I by Willem de Kooning, which sold for USD 10m, and Mark Rothko’s No. 8 (white stripe), which fetched USD 7.9m. Christie’s had also done well the day before, taking a little over USD 62m and setting some new records, including one for Alexander Calder (USD 5.2m for a monumental sculpture from 1968). Apart from Susan ROTHENBERG and Takashi MURAKAMI, no records were set for any young artists (defined by Artprice as those born after 1940) at the Sotheby’s or Christie’s evening auctions.

By contrast, Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg saw fewer seven-digit sales but numerous records for artists working today. The sole work to break the million-dollar mark was Something solid beneath the surface of all creatures great and small, a very large installation by the British artist Damien HIRST, which went for a record USD 1.05m. This ran counter to the trend in Hirst’s price index which has been falling continuously for the past four years and is now 35% below what it was in 1999. But it was the first time such a major Hirst work had been offered at public auction. We should also mention the exceptional price obtained for Untitled (Cowboy) by Richard Prince, which fetched USD 410,000 having been estimated at USD 80-120,000. Phillips’ New York sale reflected the great diversity of world art, with records falling not only for US artists, but also Belgians (Luc TUYMANS and Wim DELVOYE), a German (Daniel RICHTER), a Spaniard (Juan MUÑOZ), a French pair (PIERRE & GILLES) and a Swiss (Ugo RONDINONE).

Artprice selection of 50 contemporary artists* who broke their record in year 2003*Artists born after 1940, Update: 20 November 2003RankArtistWorkSale Category1Chuck CLOSE (1940)$ 1,300,000: «Cindy II» (1988)14/05/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)2Damien HIRST (1965)$ 1,050,000: Something Solid beneath the Surface of all Creatures Great and Small (2001)13/11/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)3Susan ROTHENBERG (1945)$ 900,000: «Layering» (1974-1976)12/11/2003 (New-York, Sotheby’s)4Takashi MURAKAMI (1962)$ 550,000: Untitled (1999-2001)11/11/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)5Alighiero BOETTI (1940)$ 453,546: «Tutto» (1987-1988)20/10/2003 (London, Sotheby’s)6Barry FLANAGAN (1941)$ 428,844: Boxing Hare on Anvil (1989)06/02/2003 (London, Sotheby’s)7Richard PRINCE (1949)$ 410,000: Cowboy (1999)13/11/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)8Luc TUYMANS (1958)$ 380,000: «Within» (2001)13/11/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)9Thomas STRUTH (1954)$ 367,950: «Pantheon, Rom» (1990)21/10/2003 (London, Sotheby’s)10Marlene DUMAS (1953)$ 290,000: «Wet Dreams» (1987)11/11/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)11Daniel RICHTER(1962)$ 210,000: «Gedion» (2002)13/11/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)12Neo RAUCH (1960)$ 170,000: Gegenlicht (2000)15/05/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)13PIERRE & GILLES (1976)$ 170,000: La Madone au coeur blessé, Lio (1991)13/11/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)14Jim HODGES (1957)$ 165,000: Trembling and Joy (1994)12/11/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)15Francis ALYS (1959)$ 160,000: Untitled12/11/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)16Juan MUÑOZ (1953)$ 160,000: «Looking Sideways (A)» (1996-1997)13/11/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)17Jamie WYETH (1946)$ 150,000: «Summer House, Winter House» (1975)22/05/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)18Philip TAAFFE (1955)$ 150,000: Adam, Eve (1984)14/05/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)19Jack PIERSON (1960)$ 135,000: «Stardust» (1995)15/05/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)20Odd NERDRUM (1944)$ 132,480: Male Twins (1992)02/04/2003 (Köbenhavn, Bruun Rasmussen)21Tim MAGUIRE (1958)$ 123,614: «Untitled 20010805» 26/08/2003 (Sydney, Christie’s)22Antony GORMLEY (1950)$ 118,757: Quantum Cloud XXI (2000)06/02/2003 (London, Sotheby’s)23Jack VETTRIANO (1951)$ 117,750: Study for the singin Butler 27/08/2003 (Perthshire, Sotheby’s)24Yoshitomo NARA (1959)$ 110,000: The little Pilgrims (1999)11/11/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)25Jorge PARDO (1963)$ 100,000: Untitled (1999)13/11/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)26Ernst BILLGREN (1957)$ 95,025: Försiktig inflyttning (1999)06/11/2003 (Stockholm, Auktionsverket)27Barry MCGEE (1966)$ 95,000: Bottles (2000)12/11/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)28Barbara KRUGER (1945)$ 90,000: «Money can buy you love» (1985)13/11/2003 (New-York, Sotheby’s)29Ugo RONDINONE (1964)$ 90,000: «No.70» (1996)13/11/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)30Christopher RAUSCHENBERG (1951)$ 90,000: Scripture II (1974)14/05/2003 (New-York, Sotheby’s)31Michael RAEDECKER (1963)$ 85,000: «Down» (2001)15/05/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)32René DANIELS (1950)$ 82,285: «Salles Pacifiques» (1984)03/06/2003 (Amsterdam, Christie’s)33Hanne DARBOVEN (1941)$ 80,000: «Ein Jahrhundert 365 (366*) Indices One Century» (1971)14/05/2003 (New-York, Sotheby’s)34John KELLY (1965)$ 76,176: Three Cows Stacked06/05/2003 (Melbourne, Christie’s)35Wim DELVOYE (1965)$ 75,000: St Stephanus II (1990)13/11/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)36Glenn LIGON (1960)$ 72,500: «Walt Whitman #1» (1991)13/11/2003 (New-York, Sotheby’s)37Mark FRANCIS (1962)$ 72,005: Positive Clones (1996)16/05/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)38Claudio PARMIGGIANI (1944)$ 70,245: «Tela filosofica» (1977)21/10/2003 (London, Christie’s)39Francesca WOODMAN (1958)$ 70,000: Self-deceit, Rome (1978-1979)17/10/2003 (New-York, Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg)40Robert THERRIEN (1947)$ 70,000: Bent Cone14/05/2003 (New-York, Sotheby’s)41Garry SHEAD (1942)$ 69,828: Secret (1993)06/05/2003 (Melbourne, Christie’s)42Gérard GAROUSTE (1946)$ 69,650: L’homme à la veste verte (1984)11/10/2003 (Paris, Cornette de Saint-Cyr (S.V.V.))43Vik MUNIZ (1961)$ 65,000: Action Photo (1997)13/11/2003 (New-York, Sotheby’s)44ZHANG Xiaogang (1958)$ 64,150: Big Family Series (1995)06/07/2003 (Hong-Kong, Christie’s)45Beatriz MILHAZES (1960)$ 62,000: Mundo civilizado (1998)18/11/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)46Julie MEHRETU (1970)$ 61,925: Ringside (1999)23/09/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)47Gilberto ZORIO (1944)$ 61,883: Stella (1974)21/10/2003 (London, Christie’s)48Sharon LOCKHART (1964)$ 60,000: Goshogaoka Girls Baseball Team/Goshoyaoka Girls Basketball (1997)12/11/2003 (New-York, Christie’s)49YAN Pei-Ming (1960)$ 58,982: Vermillon de chine n°3 (1995)02/07/2003 (Paris, Cornette de Saint-Cyr (S.V.V.))50Raymond PETTIBON(1957)$ 56,080: Untitled (1990)06/02/2003 (London, Christie’s)