Towards a False Art Market Globalisation pt. 1 – artmarketblog.com
One of the things that I find particularly interesting about the current progression of the art market is that although it is often said that the internet has globalised the art market, I often come across circumstances where geographical and cultural boundaries still have a major impact on the way people perceive and interpret the value of an artist’s work. One such artist whose work appears to have been affected by such boundaries is the now deceased German artist Hannah Hoch. The event that alerted me to this issue was the March 9 2011 Impressionist and Modern Art auction held by Christie’s in New York where two works by Hannah Hoch achieved prices that were way above the estimates. The first work, a paper collage titled ‘Konstruction’, fetched a massive $104,500 against an estimate of $10,000-15,000 and was also the highest price of the auction. Another Hoch work in the same auction titled ’5 + 6′ also blitzed its $4,000-6,000 estimate finally selling for $68,500. These phenomenal results really piqued my interest in Hoch’s work, which led to me conducting further research into Hoch’s auction price history. What I found was particularly interesting and led me to make some rather interesting conclusions about the art market that I will reveal later.
If the two Christie’s results had been random anomalies there would not be anything to write about, however, there is a clear trend of estimate busting prices. But this is no ordinary trend. This is a trend that is very much a result of geographic and cultural boundaries. You see, very few works by Hoch appear at auction outside of Germany compared with the number of works that appear at auction within Germany. When works by Hoch do appear outside Germany in one of the major English speaking Western art market centres such as America or England, there is bound to be considerable interest. Christie’s have a record of having sold a total of 19 works by Hoch since 1991. Of those nineteen, five have sold for well over the assigned estimate. The most recent two are those that I mentioned above. Previous to those there was a new auction record set for Hoch by Christie’s in 2007 when ‘Mechanischer Garten’ sold in New York for $824,000 against an estimate of $8,000 – $12,000. Another work sold by Christie’s during 2007 fetched $217,000 against an estimate of $120,000 – $160,000. Going further back, Christie’s sold a work by Hoch for £22,000 in 1992 against an estimate of £10,000 – £15,000. Sotheby’s have sold even fewer works by Hoch than Christie’s with records showing a total of two works passing through their auction rooms. Of those two, one was a collage titled ‘Portrait Gerhard Hauptmann’ which sold for £67,200 against an estimate of £8,000—12,000 in London on the 18th of October 2000.
To be continued………..
Hannah Hoch (1889-1978)
signed with initials and dated ‘H.H. 21′ (lower right)
paper collage on paper
10 1/8 x 13½ in. (25.6 x 34.2 cm.)
Executed in 1921
**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