Why New Zealand is Ready for an Art Market Boom – artmarketblog.com

nz venice Why New Zealand is Ready for an Art Market Boom   artmarketblog.comNew Zealand may not be the most obvious candidate for the title of “art market with the greatest potential for growth and development,” but on closer inspection the vibrancy and diversity of the New Zealand art scene and art market is impressive to say the least. Coupled with the fact that New Zealand is well positioned to take advantage of the Asian art market boom, the untapped potential of the New Zealand art market makes the country’s art scene worth keeping an eye on.

This year has been a particularly significant year for the New Zealand art world with the launch of the fantastic Hou Hanru-curated Auckland Triennial and the unveiling of the critically acclaimed New Zealand Venice Biennale pavilion by celebrated artist Bill Culbert. Images of New Zealand artist Michael Parekowhai’s incredible public sculpture commission “The World Turns” were beamed around the world when it was unveiled as part of the 2012/13 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art.

Market-wise the level of activity of the New Zealand gallery scene belies the country’s relatively small population and relative isolation, globally speaking. The participation of the progressive and proactive Auckland-based gallery Hopkinson Cundy (now Hopkinson Mossman) at Frieze New York 2013 in May with a solo presentation by Fiona Connor in the Frame section and Sculpture Park is evidence of the international reputation of the gallery. A month after Frieze, Hopkinson Mossman made the trip to Basel to exhibit at the Art Basel satellite fair LISTE with a presentation of the work of three young New Zealand-based artists: Ruth Buchanan, Milli Jannides, and Kate Newby.

Art Basel Hong Kong was also a successful event for New Zealand galleries with Hopkinson Cundy and Auckland-based gallery Stark White leading the charge of galleries from the “the Land of the Long White Cloud.” Auckland-based artist Seung Yul Oh’s installation “Periphery” was one of the highlights of the Encounters section of the fair which was curated by Yuko Hasegawa.

The participation of New Zealand galleries in international art fairs is actually encouraged by the New Zealand government which launched an International Art Fair Fund in 2012 which “is designed to support New Zealand based visual and craft/object arts dealer galleries to participate in reputable international art fairs.” The International Art Fair Fund is being piloted for two years, offering $100,000 per annum from 1 July 2012.

The New Zealand art auction industry experienced a total turnover of $18,720,946 in 2012, a 26% increase over the 2011 total turnover of $14,839,069, according to New Zealand auction house Webb’s. Webb’s themselves reported a total turnover for 2012 of $17,246,000, an increase of 23% over 2011. Of the $17,246,000 of total sales, $7,205,050 was generated through their fine art department. Webb’s also reported an increase of the average value of a painting sold within the industry in 2012 of 15.6% and a 47% increase in the average price of the top ten works sold by Webb’s. Private treaty sales have also proven popular for Webb’s with 23.04% of the NZ$7,205,050 worth of fine art sold by the auction house in 2012 coming from bespoke private treaty transactions.

Another of the major New Zealand auction houses, Art + Object, has continued to build on the strong results they achieved in 2012 with a new auction record achieved for Gordon Walters with the artist’s painting “Tautahi” which sold for NZ$439,685 during the Art + Object 11th April 2013 Important Paintings and Contemporary Art sale. Other top results of the sale include the NZ$280,000 final price for Colin McCahon’s “Noughts and Crosses” and the NZ$88,000 achieved for Milan Mrkusich’s “Painting Red.”

Auckland-based auction house International Art Centre also experienced positive results during 2012 with their 22nd November 2012 International Art Centre Important, Early, and Rare Art auction producing some excellent results including the NZ $183,000 achieved for Ralph Hotere’s “Vive Aramoana” and the NZ$284,000 achieved for Charles Frederick Goldie’s “Mere Werohia.”

Since launching in May 2011, the New Zealand-based online art sales portal Ocula and online art auction offshoot, Ocula Black, have taken the fight to the big boys of the online art sales scene with solid results from both the private sales and auction sites. Ocula Black recently broke the record for a work by Dick Frizzell at auction with the sale of “Mickey To Tiki Tu Meke” for NZ$110,215. Other major sales by Ocula Black include Peter Stichbury’s painting “Savannah” which fetched NZ $48,000 in February 2013, Russell Clark’s painting “The Road to the West” which sold for NZ$70,350 in September 2011 and “Te Aitu Te Irikau, (An Arawa Chieftainess)” which went for an astonishing NZ $222,775 in November 2012. The main Ocula online art portal has also experienced strong interest from around the world with some of the world’s top galleries represented on the site including Gagosian Hong Kong/China, ARNDT Berlin, Pace Beijing, and Spruth Magers Berlin London.

The New Zealand art scene is dominated by the most recognised and famous artists to have called New Zealand home – artists such as: Charles F Goldie, Bill Hammond, Colin McCahon, Ralph Hotere, Robin White, Gordon Walters, Pat Hanly, Michael Smither, John Pule, Dick Frizzell, Julia Dashper, Tony Fomison, Michael Illingworth, Evelyn Page, Billy Apple, and Milan Mrkusich. However, there are a plethora of younger and less established New Zealand-born and New Zealand -based artists worth watching including Michael Parekowhai, Shane Cotton,  Kate Newby, Ruth Buchanan, Fiona Connor, Seung Yul Oh, Matt Henry, Peter Stichbury, Tahi Moore, Tahi Moore, Peter Robinson, and others.

If you want to know which New Zealand artists to keep an eye on, the Elam School of Fine Arts at The University of Auckland has published a new book which features the work of New Zealand’s top emerging artists as displayed during the November 2012 Elam Graduate Show. This publication is available from suppliers of fine art books throughout New Zealand or through Elam School of Fine Arts for NZ$22.00.

One of the best ways to become more familiar with the New Zealand art market is to attend the biannual Auckland Art Fair, New Zealand’s international showcase for contemporary art. The 2013 edition of the fair will take place in Auckland from August 8-11 and will feature a select contingent of leading galleries from Australia and New Zealand. The keynote lecture will be by Sandra Phillips, curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the fair will feature special projects by Israel Birch, Scott Eady, Niki Hastings-McFall, Alex Monteith, Seung Yul Oh and Rohan Wealleans.

**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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