Top Filipino artists



In Artprice’s fortnightly series of auction rankings, today’s Friday Top looks at the strongest auction results for Filipino artists in 2015 after the relatively recent emergence of international demand for some of the country’s 20th century artists.

In recent years, the market for Filipino artists has enjoyed renewed vitality with the development of the country’s internal market and the dissemination of Filipino artists via Hong Kong sales to a more international audience (mainly at Christie’s and Sotheby’s). Driven by its strategic location at the crossroads of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, the Philippine art market posted a massive increase in turnover last year, with sales up 92% (just under 1200 lots sold in 2015 generating $32.8 million). By the end of 2015, the Philippines had emerged as the world’s 17th art auction marketplace, behind Belgium! The strong growth has been partly driven by a substantial increase in domestic art prices with the country now posting an average transaction price above $28,000 compared with Japan’s average price of less than $6,000! Recent results also show a sharp rise in demand for 19th and 20th century Filipino art (until the 1980s), with the country’s historical artists often posting better results than its ultra-Contemporaries.

Top Filipino artists
Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Juan LUNA Y NOVICIO $863,600 A Do…Va la Nave (1885) 2015-09-19 Salcedo Auctions Makati
2 Fernando ZOBEL DE AYALA $635,880 Garden Window with a Trumpet (1953) 2015-02-06 Leon Gallery Makati
3 Fernando ZOBEL DE AYALA $590,460 Seated Man (Nothing III) (1953) 2015-02-06 Leon Gallery Makati
4 Vicente Silva MANANSALA $438,600 Golden Harvest (1969) 2015-10-04 Sotheby’s Hong Kong
5 Fernando ZOBEL DE AYALA $302,260 Arganda (1961) 2015-09-19 Salcedo Auctions Makati
6 Fernando AMORSOLO $283,800 Hope in the Ruins of Manila (1945) 2015-11-28 Christie’s Hong Kong
7 Vicente Silva MANANSALA $258,000 Arm Wrestling (1948) 2015-10-05 Sotheby’s Hong Kong
8 Juan LUNA Y NOVICIO $256,919 Untitled (1884) 2015-09-12 Leon Gallery Makati City
9 Fernando ZOBEL DE AYALA $226,800 Los Ultimos Grajos (1964) 2015-03-07 Salcedo Auctions Makati
10 Alfonso OSSORIO $226,800 We are Many (1950) 2015-03-07 Salcedo Auctions Makati
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Juan Luna y Novicio (1857-1899) 

The current revaluation of the Philippines’ historical artists has given Juan Luna y Novicio the highest position in our Top 10 ranking with a result of more than $1 million for a 1885 figurative canvas at Salcedo Auctions in Makati on 19 September 2015. However, this impressive result is not the artist’s record; on 5 October 2013, the little-known Juan Luna y Novicio reached $3.3 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong with a symbolic canvas depicting two women (embodying Spain and the Philippines) climbing a stairway towards heavenly light (España y Filipinas, 1884). Educated in Europe, the artist worked on the major artistic themes of the late 19th century such as female nudes and historical or symbolic subjects. Recognized as one of the first great Filipino artists, Juan Luna y Novicio has an active market in France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and the United States, in addition to Asian marketplaces.


Fernando Zobel de Ayala (1924-1984) 

Born in Manila, educated partly in the US and a Spanish citizen, Fernando Zobel de Ayala is currently one of the most coveted Filipino artists and the demand is not new. Fernando Zobel de Ayala had many strings to his bow: businessman, collector and artist, he shared his enthusiasm for Modern art with Filipinos and after his return to Manila in the 1950s, he spent a lot of time with his creative compatriots. Deeply influenced by Mark Rothko and by Chinese and Japanese art, his work is at the crossroads of several cultures and, as a result, is equally appreciated in the East and the West. Three years ago (6 April 2013), the Hong Kong market gave a particularly strong reception to an abstract painting entitled Hattecvm (estimated $100,000 at Sotheby’s) bidding it past the $1 million threshold. The following month, a similar phenomenon occurred at Christie’s when Aracili fetched over $900,000. Two years after his Hong Kong price explosion, Zobel’s success was confirmed in Makati with two figurative works from 1953 fetching respectively $590,000 (Seated Man (Nothing III)) and $635,880 (Garden Window with a Trumpet) at Leon Gallery (6 February 2015). Since Fernando Zobel de Ayala had strong ties with both the United States and Spain, demand could well intensify, with a number of market participants closely monitoring the artists’ price evolution.


The market is also strong for Vicente Silva Manansala (1910-1981) whose record was renewed last year at more than $536,000 with a painting from the late 1960s (Golden Harvest) and for Fernando Amorsolo (1892-1972) one of the most popular artists in the Philippines and one of the most prolific as well (sometimes producing ten paintings per month).

The American-Filipino Alfonso Ossorio (1916-1990) closes out our Top 10 ranking. A close friend of Jackson Pollock (from whom he acquired works), he was also a keen collector of Art Brut. He even bought a 60-acre estate in East Hampton to house Jean Dubuffet’s collection of Art Brut between 1953 and 1962. His strong ties with American and French art make him one of the best-known Filipino artists on the international scene. His auction record was set in Paris on 3 December 2014 when The Skull fetched $345,000 at Christie’s and the artist crossed the $100,000 threshold for the first time in New York last year (with a drawing entitled Fourth of July that sold for $112,500 on 29 September 2015 at Sotheby’s).