Art Market Blog – Most Valuable Artist of 2007
With 2007 being such an exciting and crazy year for the art market I thought that I would take the time and pick one particular artist who I think showed the most investment potential and value for money in 2007. The artist that I chose is Helio Oiticica. For those of you who haven’t heard of Helio Oiticica (shame on you if you haven’t!!) he was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1937 to a family of artists and academics that influenced Helio’s interest in art, culture and politics. Against all odds Oiticica was able to develop an artistic identity that was true to his views, interests and aims which were often contradictory to the aims and views of the Brazilian military dictatorship of the time.
Helio Oiticica died a tragically premature death in 1980 from a stroke that was likely to have been caused by his addiction to cocaine which he developed during a stay in New York. Oiticica is now recognised as a one of the most innovative Brazilian artists of the 20th century and is beginning to be acknowledged as a highly influential and significant figure in modern art.
I attended the Helio Oiticica exhibition ‘Body of Colour’ at the Tate Modern in the middle of last year and was absolutely mesmerised by what I saw to the point where I consider the exhibition to be one of the best I have ever seen. I could spend for ever writing about Helio Oiticica but I am going to stick to the reasons that I have chosen Oiticica as the most valuable artist of 2007. The reasons are:
1. Because Helio Oiticica died relatively young he was only able to produce a limited amount of work which makes what he did produce all the more desirable. There is also a very appealing purity and naiveness to his work which I can only presume was partly due to his early death.
2. He was definitely not commercially motivated in fact he actually disliked selling his work which shows how dedicated he was to his artistic pursuits.
3. He was obsessive in his careful documentation of his work which provides a sort of provenance as well as appeal, intrigue, and interest to his work.
4. Oiticica is considered to have been an artistic prodigy.
5. Oiticica’s approach was exploratory and experimental rather than market oriented which is a very desirable attribute.
6. At his death he owned 95% of the work he produced which resulted in his work being extremely desirable due to the fact people want what they can’t have or haven’t had the opportunity to acquire.
7. Oiticica has been relatively unknown outside Brazil until recently and as such is considered to be extremely undervalued in the world art market.
8. Military dictatorship in Brazil regarded his avant-garde approach as contradictory to their mission and thus did not recognise his talent and contributions. Oiticica’s work was therefore not celebrated and acquired in museums as one would suspect and as such has not been given the recognition and value that it deserves.
9. Latin American art as whole is under-represented and under-valued.
Metaesquema II, 1958
Guache s/ cartão
55 x 63,9 cm
Doação Projeto Hélio Oiticica
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.