A More Mature American Art Market Emerges, Pt. 2 – artmarketblog.com

nr1 A More Mature American Art Market Emerges, Pt. 2   artmarketblog.comAs I wrote in my last post, over the last year or so the American art market has shown significant signs of development and maturation evinced by a greater focus on the work of artists (painters mainly) active during the early to mid 20th century whose work is characterised by patriotic subject matter and a more traditional and poetic aesthetic.

Further evidence of this significant market shift took place throughout 2012. One of the most significant examples of this trend was the new record for the most expensive item sold to an online bidder at any international auction house recently set by Christie’s with American realist painter Edward Hopper’s October on Cape Cod which sold for $9.6 million.

During the same November 2012 American Art sale Charles Ephraim Burchfield’s Golden Dream sold for $1,202,500 against an estimate of $300,000 – $500,000 and an early Ashcan-style realist painting by Stuart Davis titled City Snow Scene sold for $1,202,500 against an estimate of $400,000 – $600,000.

Yet another painting by Charles Ephraim Burchfield – a noted watercolour artist who is relatively unknown outside of America – sold at Christie’s in May 2012 for $206,500 against an estimate of  $100,000 – $150,000.  Small New York-based auctioneers Swann Auction Galleries also found success with Burchfield, selling a small painting by the artist titled Hot Morning for $42,000 against an estimate of $15,000 – 20,000 during their 15 November 2012 American Art/Contemporary Art sale.

The patriotic paintings of Norman Rockwell have also proven popular over recent months. During Sotheby’s 20 November 2012 American Art sale the artist’s The Muscleman sold for $2,210,500 against an estimate of $600,000 – 800,000.  Another painting by the artist titled Doctor and Doll fetched 1,874,500 against an estimate of $500,000 – 700,000.

All the above auction sales confirm that the American art market is undergoing a metamorphosis characterised by an increasingly visible group of collectors and investors who eschew the big name contemporary art market juggernauts in favour of patriotic and USA-centric works of art. The emergence of a more “traditional” base of collectors and investors is a sign that the hype of the contemporary art market is slowly being replaced by rationality and reason.

image: Doctor and Doll by Norman Rockwell

*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.

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  • http://twitter.com/TrishNeil Trish Neil

    Frances, I absolutely agree. As I was reading, my instant thought was “What’s mature about a return to schmaltzy patriotic themes? Maybe it’s more post-modern irony!

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