Due to overwhelming demand I have posted the entire Top 2010 Art Market Trends series in one post.  Hope you enjoy !!!

Top 2010 Art Market Trends Pt. 1 – artmarketblog.com

pistoletto rags1 The Top 2010 Art Market Trends    artmarketblog.com‘Venus of the Rags’ by Michelangelo Pistoletto

1. Arte Povera: The Arte Povera trend that took hold in 2010 has more to do with the concept of “Arte Povera” as opposed to the actual artists involved in the movement. The trend also extends to the work of other artists whose work embodied the concepts of Arte Povera such as Art Brut artists and naive artists. Without a doubt this has been the most dominant and most visible trend of 2010.

According to the Tate Modern website:

“The name (Arte Povera) means literally ‘poor art’ but the word poor here refers to the movement’s signature exploration of a wide range of materials beyond the quasi-precious traditional ones of oil paint on canvas, or bronze, or carved marble. Arte Povera therefore denotes not an impoverished art, but an art made without restraints, a laboratory situation in which any theoretical basis was rejected in favour of a complete openness towards materials and processes”

The glossy, blingy art that has dominated the market for years has given way to a desire for the more gritty and raw work of artists such as Lucio Fontana, Helio Oiticica, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alighiero Boetti, Piero Manzoni, Jean Dubuffet etc. The un-primed slashed canvases of Fontana, the graffiti style of Basquiat, the artist’s shit of Piero Manzoni and the unusually textured canvases of Dubuffet all represent artists who took a stand against the commercialism of the art market – a stand that collectors have taken up as they turn their back on the current commercialism of the art market.

Interestingly, the Tate Modern opened galleries dedicated to the Arte Povera movement in May 2009. According to a Tate press release “The central space of the new Energy and Process wing will be devoted to a selection of works made by artists in the 1960s and 1970s. The term Arte Povera was coined by the art critic Germano Celant to describe the activities of Italian artists who used the simplest means to create poetic statements based on everyday life. Seen as a reaction against the commercialism of the art market, the work demonstrated a keen appetite to use commonplace or ‘poor’ materials and new processes.”

2. Naive Art: The naive art trend is closely related to the Arte Povera trend with work produced by “naive” artists often resembling the work of Arte Povera artists. The work of artists who produce work in a naive style such as Basquiat, Dubuffet and Antonio Ligabue has proven to be extremely popular of late with many auction records being broken. A new auction record for Ligabue, one of the most famous 20th century naive artists, was set on the 24th of November 2010 when his ‘Autoritratto, olio su faesite’ sold for €152,000 against an estimate of €50,000-70,000.

3. Latin American Art: Although there was a general trend towards nationalistic and culturally representative art, there has been a particularly strong global increase in the popularity of Latin American art. Funnily enough, many of the artists that I associated with the concept of Arte Povera also have connections with Latin America such as Basquiat who has Haitian roots, Fontana who was born in Argentina, and Oiticica who was born in Brazil. What is also interesting is that many of the world’s most popular and influential naive artists also have a connection with Latin America.

A good example of the growing interest in the work of Latin American artists of both the past and present is the continuing success of the PINTA Latin American art fair. Although 2010 was only the fourth edition of the fair there was plenty of evidence to suggest that there is more than enough demand to support a dedicated Latin American art fair. Auction wise, 2010 saw new auction price records for many Latin American artists including: Jorge Jiminez, Helio Oiticica, Adriana Varejao, Julio Galan, Omar Rayo, Julio Le Parc, Wilfredo Lam, Alejandro Otero, Alfonso Michel and many others.

4. Sculpture: The resurgence in the interest of the work of classical style and modernist bronze sculptors, particularly those who work in metal, is somewhat of an odd and puzzling trend. There is, however, an increasing interest being shown in the work of sculptors such as Barbara Hepworth, Rembrandt Bugatti, Alberto Giacometti, August Renoir and Matisse. Christie’s set the benchmark at the beginning of 2010 when they set a new auction record for Giacometti, and a new record for a work of art sold at auction, when they sold the Alberto’s life-size bronze sculpture titled ‘L’Homme Qui Marche I’ for 65 million pounds. Proving that the Giacometti record wasn’t a fluke, Christie’s again made headlines in June when they sold Modigliani’s modernist sculpture titled ‘Tête’ for 43.2 million euros in Paris – an auction record for the artist. In November a new auction record was set for Matisse when Christie’s sold the artist’s ‘Nu de dos, 4 etat (Back IV)’ bronze sculpture for a $48.8 million. Although Christie’s appeared to dominate the metal sculpture trend, Sotheby’s also made some significant contributions with outstanding prices achieved for a range of bronze sculptures by Dame Barabara Hepworth and Rembrandt Bugatti.

5. Nationalistic Art: The beginning of the sentimental art market era, which I have written about extensively on my blog, has influenced a shift of focus towards the work of artists whom collectors can relate to on a cultural or generational level. Artists whose work is iconically representative of a particular era or culture are being pursued by collectors of that culture or era. The stark and sterile work of the contemporary art market boom combined with the faceless commercialism of the modern world is heavily responsible for what I believe to be a yearning that many art collectors and investors have to revive in themselves a sense of culture and place. As I wrote in my previous post “When art collectors or investors seek safety and familiarity they are most likely to gravitate towards works by artists from the era and culture that they have the greatest connection to. This would explain the large number of seemingly unrelated trends that emerged during 2010 many of which involved previously unfashionable styles and movements that are distinctly associated with a particular era or culture.”

Top 2010 Art Market Trends Pt. 2 – artmarketblog.com

There is really not just one dominant “art market” that one can refer to anymore.   Once upon a time when one referred to the art market they were generally referring to the global leaders England and the USA, with perhaps the French market included depending on who you talked to and what their allegiances were.  Now, however, there are so many more highly influential markets emerging on a regular basis that it has become extremely difficult to trace, track and predict art mageorge The Top 2010 Art Market Trends    artmarketblog.comrket movements – not totally impossible though.  My last post focussed on the art market trends that I have seen emerge during 2010, which were identified primarily from observing auction sales throughout the year.  With this post I want to look a bit further into those trends and the reasoning behind them.

The arte povera trend that I mentioned in my previous post on art market trends is not exclusive to the auction world.  Some of the world’s top contemporary galleries are exhibiting works that have obvious ties with the concepts and characteristics that one associates with the Arte Povera movement – in particular the use of found objects.   For instance, the Barbican Gallery recently held a special exhibition of work by Damian Ortega, a Mexican artist who has strong associations with the White Cube gallery, which consisted of a number of installations using found objects.  New York’s Gagosian Gallery chose to use one of Rauschenberg’s ‘Combine’ paintings, a series of works that incorporate found objects and reproduced images, as the feature image of their Rauschenberg show that finished in November 2010.  In fact, the first three works of the exhibit were from the artist’s ‘Combine’ series.  Since September Hauser and Wirth have exhibited a sculpture by Martin Creed titled ‘Work No. 700’ (2007), three progressively slimmer steel I-beams balanced on top of each other.  Creed’s steel girders are left in their used, practical state, which once again fits in with the “found object” trend.

If I can divert back to the auction market for a moment, the January 11-12 2011 Christie’s sale of items from the estate of Dennis Hopper included a particularly interesting array of works that perfectly reflect the current market trends that I have been talking about.  A range of junk assemblages by George Herms, an artist who many consider to have been overlooked by the art world, attracted a particularly high level of attention and sold for several times the estimate. The Hopper sale also included a noticeably high number of collage works – another trend that I consider an extension of the “found object” trend.  A “found object” collage by Bruce Conner titled ‘Picnic on the Grass’ took the third highest price of the auction reaching a fantastic $96,100 against an estimate of $10,000-$15,000.  According to the Christie’s press release “Conner was a key artist in the development of assemblage art, a movement of found-object sculpture that critic Peter Plagens defined as “the first home-grown California modern art.” Hopper’s collection boasts several Conner works, including this multi-layered work that employs fabric, printed paper, plastic, string and even an acorn”.  A verifax collage by Wallace Berman proved popular finding favour with a US buyer who paid $42,500, going well beyond the $12,000 to $18,000 estimate.  Also included in the sale were collages by Viggo Mortensen and Llyn Foulkes; a collage by Lyn Foulkes titled ‘The Scene that is God’s Mouth’ was purchased by the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Collages also proved popular on the gallery side of the market during 2010 with Gagosian Gallery holding an exhibition of discarded object sculptures and photographic collages by Nancy Rubin from June to July.  Victoria Miro extended their exhibition of renowned collage artist Tom Lubbock who passed away less than a month after the exhibition closed.  According to the gallery website, “Tom Lubbock died on Sunday 9 January 2011. In tribute to him Victoria Miro Gallery will reopen his exhibition on Saturday 15 & Saturday 22 January.  This exhibition of beautifully crafted paper collages, provides the first opportunity to see a small selection of works made weekly by Tom Lubbock for the Saturday edition of The Independent between 1999 and 2004”.

The current fascination and focus on the 2D and 3D versions of “found object” assemblages tells us more about the market than you may realise.  Erik Davis gave an excellent explanation of the allure of found objects in an article he wrote titled ‘The Alchemy of Trash, the West Coast of Spiritual Collage’.  According to Davis:

“Duncan (Robert Duncan) praises the outsider artist, who goes against the grain, risks height, ignores dogma. This is all part of our “alternative” myth these days, but it remains to be seen whether the margins still exist — culturally, economically, spiritually — that could allow such creative feats to flourish. Juxtaposition has become an advertiser’s art. Trash is not the same thing today, in our belated self-conscious world of thrift-store savvy, mediated hipster rebellion, and omniverous collector mania. Before you know it, it’s on Ebay. Many of us still hear the spiritual call of redemptive refuse, of glimmers, junk, and “bits of beauty.” But it remains to be seen whether we can join the ranks of those who, in Ginsberg’s howling words, “dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed…”.

In a world that is so obsessed with material possessions, and that is so influenced by commercialism, it is inevitable that there will be times when the world becomes disillusioned with this particular path of progression and the objects associated with it.  In my opinion the false, shallow and impersonal nature of the material world we live in is more than enough reason for collectors to want to seek works of art that represent a more idealistic and romantic approach to life.  The familiar nature of works that are constructed of “found objects” is one reason that such works have greater appeal during times of disillusionment and disenchantment.  As far as I am concerned it makes sense that a work constructed of familiar “found” objects would quite easily evoke a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality in many people and, as I have mentioned in previous posts, the familiar brings a sense of comfort and confidence to people during times of uncertainty.

The work of artists who are influenced by, or who produce work in line with, the concepts adopted by the Arte Povera movement, can also act as a sort of escapism that transports the viewer to another world that Erik Davis describes in his article ‘The Alchemy of Trash, the West Coast of Spiritual Collage’ as:

“a life authentically rooted in the noncommercial margins of bohemia, a magic circle of art and fellowship and esoteric romanticism that transmuted the objects and images it embraced”.

The inauthentic, sterile and commercialistic path that the art market tends to take during heady times of blissful ignorance will always come to a grinding halt when people are forced to face facts and return to reality.  Works that embody the concept of arte povera, such as “found object” collages and sculptures, have an authenticity and spirituality that is extremely difficult to ignore unless one has been blinded by the glitz, glamour and sheen of the modern material world.  Thankfully, the veil of commercialism and materialism has been lifted allowing these often shunned works to be experienced in all their glory – if only for a short period of time.

To be continued…………


George Herms
Song for Hope
ca. 1986

Top 2010 Art Market Trends Pt. 3 – artmarketblog.com

foulkes 233x300 The Top 2010 Art Market Trends    artmarketblog.comAlthough 2010 saw a plethora of cities all over the world emerge as centres of cultural and artistic production, one of the most interesting locations of art market growth during 2010 was none other than the city of Los Angeles. The opening of a new building at the LACMA, the naming of Jeffrey Deitch as the new head of the LA MOCA, the sale of the LA based Dennis Hopper estate and other major events that took place during 2010 have taken the LA art scene to new heights – a climb that some say will soon elevate the LA art scene above the NY art scene.

If you have read my last couple of posts on the art market trends of 2010 you will know that one of the strongest trends that I identified from 2010 was a focus on work that was clearly influenced by the concepts and characteristics of arte povera.  One of the most significant auction sales of arte povera style work in 2010 was the sale of the Dennis Hopper estate which, as I mentioned above, was an LA based estate.  Ïnterestingly, we already we have a connection between the arte povera trend and the LA art scene.  To explain the connection between the LA art scene and the arte povera trend further I need to take a slight detour and take a look at the different ways that dealers can approach the sale of fine art.

When a dealer decides to open a new gallery or take on a new market, there are several options that they have when it comes to deciding how they are going to approach that market.  The options are:

A.      Discovering and promoting emerging young talent

B.      Selling the work of well established and highly recognisable artists

C.      Reviving and promoting the work of artists from the past who were either overlooked or just not considered worthy at the time they were most active.

The market for emerging talent in LA is obviously flourishing, as is the market for the work of famous LA artists such as Hockney and Ruscha, which leaves option C as the option with the most potential for dealers.  Art critic Mat Gleason recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post titled ‘The Ten Most UNDERRATED Los Angeles Art World Stars’ ( see article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mat-gleason/the-ten-most-underrated-l_b_684359.html ).  What made me particularly excited to find this article was the fact that three of the artists were artists that produced work that fits in perfectly with the arte povera trend; the second connection between the LA art scene and the arte povera trend.  The current progression of this trend suggests that these three artists – George Herms, Lynn Foulkes and Michael C. McMillen – will begin to get the recognition they deserve as dealers continue to look for “new” artistic talent to promote in the form of overlooked artists from the past.

One of the reasons that LA is such an important location for the arte povera trend is the strong connection that LA has with artistic movements and cultural trends that relate strongly to the concepts and characteristics of arte povera. An influential beatnik trend that emerged in LA during the 50’s and 60’s was partially responsible for one of the most significant arte povera related (even though it appears to have predated arte povera) art trends to emerge in LA – the California Assemblage movement.   According to the Laguna Art Museum website:

“Historically speaking, California Assemblage art was most prominent in the 1950s and 60s. The California Assemblage movement was born out of the Beat Generation of artists and poets, and George Herms was an active participant. Herms, whose work dates back to the early 1950s, is seen as one of the last living luminaries of the California Assemblage movement. Herms’ reclamation and reverence for the found object, along with his appreciation and use of entropy as an active and constant force operating on it, are the tools he uses to transform the detritus of our society into his artworks.”

The connections that I have made over the last few posts between arte povera, assemblage, collage, Latin American art and the LA art scene show that art market trends are more than just random coincidences.  This particular trend has become so influential because of the strengthening and emergence of several markets around the world that have a strong connections with cultural and artistic traditions that can linked to the concepts and influences that resulted in the emergence of the arte povera movement and associated styles.


Llyn Foulkes
Dali and Me, 2006
Mixed media
33 x 26 in. (83.8 x 66 cm)
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

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  • http://masongallery.com.au/artists/ Aboriginal Artists

    Running from the early l960s to mid-l970s, the Italian selection includes the 14 main protagonists of Arte Povera. In London they clearly confirm their influential status in l990s British art.

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