Making way for young female artists (2)


On 28 June in London, Christie’s will be hosting a highly prestigious evening sale of 20th and 21st century art. Among the masterpieces by Monet, Chagall, Picasso and the usual monuments of Contemporary art (including Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons), there will also be works by a number of young women artists who are still relatively unknown, but whose markets have already generated impressive results.

Last week, Artmarket by Artprice focused on Anna Weyant and Jadé Fadojutimi, both included in the catalog for Christie’s June 28 sale. This week we turn our attention to Rachel Jones, Shara Hughes and Lucy Bull, three other female artists born after 1980 who perfectly illustrate the ‘red-chip’ phenomenon, i.e. young artists whose prices rocket as soon as their work appears on the market.

Rachel JONES (born in 1991)

Spliced Structure, 2019

Mixed media on canvas

240 x 210 cm

Exhibition: London, Royal Academy of Arts, RA Schools Show, 2019.

Spliced Structure is a large-scale canvas, nearly two and a half meters high, painted in 2019 and presented that same year in the artist’s graduation exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Christie’s describes its artistic qualities as follows: “Spliced Structure is a thrilling large-scale work that exemplifies Rachel Jones’ vividly expressive language of color, texture and abstract form. The artist uses oil pastel and oil stick with improvisatory verve, building a patchwork of brilliant chromatic drama. Broad swathes of magenta, pink, crimson, acid green and cobalt blue contend with hatched black thickets and shimmering flares of light, (…)”

The power of her colored abstractions is compared with that found in the work of Joan Mitchell, a monument of American abstract painting, and one of the most successful female artists on the auction market. With this comparison, Christie’s is connecting Rachel JONES’ work to an extraordinary lineage that ultimately goes back to Impressionism’s figurehead, Claude Monet.

I try to use color to describe black bodies. I want to translate all of that lust for self-expression into a language that exists outside of words, and instead relates to seeing and feeling with our eyes” Rachel Jones

Christie’s is offering Spliced Structure with an estimate of between $122,000 and $180,000, although this deliberately attractive price range will very likely be dwarfed because the two works by the artist already sold at auction multiplied their estimates tenfold! On 2 March last, her painting A Slow Teething (2020) sold for $824,000, and then her Spliced Structure (7) (2019) was hammered down for the equivalent of $1.2 million against a high estimate of $79,000.

Rachel Jones is just 31, but has already achieved international fame. Already in 2020, a few months after her graduation exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, she was selected for the collective exhibition A Focus on Painting by the Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery (London, 2020), which gave her a solo exhibition in 2021 (Rachel Jones: SMIILLLLEEEE).

Many of her works are now held in the collections of the Tate, the Arts Council England, The Hepworth Wakefield, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami.

Lucy Bull (born 1990)

No More Blue Tomorrows, 2018

Oil on linen

106.7 x 106.7 cm

After graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012, Lucy BULL moved to Los Angeles, where she lives and works today and where her work can be seen at the David Kordansky gallery and the Almine Rech gallery. Lucy Bull’s auction debut at Sotheby’s The Now Evening Auction in New York on 19 May 2022 is not much more than a month old, but it already generated an eye-watering – if not destabilizing – result: Special Guest (2019) fetched more than 10 times its high estimate at $907,200.

In Christie’s upcoming sale, her blue-toned abstract work, No More Blue Tomorrows, is being offered with an extremely modest estimate of $73,000 – $100,000. The painting was acquired two years ago by its current owner at a Los Angeles show entitled The Squall. However, in view of the speculative agitation on this new signature, we suspect it will fetch considerably more.

Shara Hughes (born in 1981)

At Full Tilt, 2018

oil and acrylic on canvas

198 x 167 cm

The third large-scale abstract work by a young artist whose market is overheating is a work titled At Full Tilt by Shara Hughes. With exuberant enthusiasm, Christie’s describes the painting as “A thunderous sky of crashing blues, purples and yellows bursts with electric energy” in a “painting (that) invokes the intense palettes of Fauvism and German Expressionism”.

Christie’s catalog essay also compares At Full Tilt with two museum paintings, one by Lee Krasner (The Seasons, 1957, kept at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York), the other by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Sertigweg im Sommer, 1924. Private collection).

At Full Tilt is carrying an estimate of $490,000 $735,000… a range that might seem ambitious for a painting completed only four years ago. However, Shara HUGHES has already proven herself at substantially higher price points. Eleven paintings by the young prodigy have already exceeded the $1 million threshold in less than a year!

The pressure is so strong on the artist’s market that we are already seeing cases of resales capturing significant capital gains in record time. On 21 January 2022, her painting HERE AND THERE (2007) resold for $208,000 in Hong Kong versus an acquisition price of $73,000 on 10 July 2020 in the same city: a value accretion of around +188% in just two years.

Shara Hughes: annual results. Turnover in million $