Bonhams Sale of Richard Diebenkorn Print Leaves Market Green With Envy – artmarketblog.com
The sale of Richard Diebenkorn’s etching Green, 1986 for US$ 338,500 inc. premium against an estimate of US$ 200,000 – 300,000 by Bonhams in San Francisco on the 23rd of October was the second highest price achieved for a print by the artist at auction.
Recognised as a leading West Coast Abstract Expressionist in the 1950s, Diebenkorn turned his attention to figurative painting in 1955 only to return to abstraction in 1967. During the next twenty years he would forge one of the most compelling and masterful bodies of work of the 20th century.
Initialed in pencil, numbered 16/60 (there were also 10 artist’s proofs) and measuring 45 x 35 1/8in (sheet 53 5/8 x 40 1/2in), the Green print was published/printed by Crown Point Press/Marcia Bartholme, San Francisco in 1986.
An indication of how healthy the top of the print market is, Christies New York sold number 41 of the edition of 60 in 1998 for $90,500 against an estimate of $60,000 – $80,000. Christie’s also achieved the highest price for a print by Diebenkorn on the 26th of April 2011 when they sold number 57 of the Green edition for $422,500 against an estimate of $200,000 – $300,000 in New York.
According to Christie’s, “Although Diebenkorn had previously shunned large scale prints, he was immediately inspired by the oversized, unusually soft copper plate Crown Point had purchased. Several other etchings resulted from this same piece of copper including Indigo Horizontal, Center Square, and Blue Softground.”
An exhibition of Diebenkorn’s prints from the years 1961-1992 was held at Greenberg Van Doren Gallery between the 26th of April and the 29th of June 2012. Commenting on the exhibition, Kathan Brown, Crown Point Press founder, said that “Richard Diebenkorn’s works in color etching, especially the large aquatint titled Green, are among the most celebrated of our time.”
Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series, a retrospective of one of the most important bodies of work in American abstract painting, is another recent exhibition that has lifted the artist’s profile. Co-organized by the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the touring show was first shown at the OCMA from February 26 – May 27, 2012.
Adding to the value of the Diebenkorn’s oeuvre is a project to create a complete catalogue of the artist’s paintings and works on paper which is being jointly sponsored by The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the estate of Richard Diebenkorn.
The catalogue will only include unique objects, as a future project will cover multiples. It is expected that the final catalogue raisonné will include nearly 700 oil paintings and some 4,000 works on paper.
Bonhams sale of Green, 1986 indicates that there is a strong desire for the most significant and valuable prints from top modern and contemporary artists – perhaps a reflection of a market that is beginning to show the effects of prices for original works that have skyrocketed to ridiculously high levels.
image: Green, 1986. Etching with aquatint and drypoint in colors on Somerset paper, initialed in pencil, dated ’86′ and numbered 16/60
**Nicholas Forrest is a Sydney/London based art market analyst, art consultant and writer. He is the founder of the Art Market Blog (artmarketblog.com) which offers independent commentaries as well as research and analysis on the current art market, and has recently been published in Fabrik magazine, Verve magazine, Visual Art Beat magazine, Australian Art Collector magazine, Art & Investment magazine and many others. Nic has made several radio appearances (both nationally and internationally) as an art market expert and has received press from the likes of the New York Times, Conde Nast Portfolio and Times of London.