Sotheby’s and Christie’s Impressionist and Modern sales this past week provided for an interesting revitalization of the Impressionist and Modern art market. Christie’s tallied $149,773,500, while Sotheby’s tallied $199,804,500 in sales which are remarkable when compared to previous Impressionist and Modern sales. Both sales offered a variety of different works, but as an Artinfo article pointed out, the provenance and rarity of the items in the Sotheby’s sales were not to be passed up.
There were several insights that were revealed in these sales as to the direction of the art market. The first of which is that Surrealism is gaining popularity once more. Max Ernst’s incredible masterpiece, “The Stolen Mirror,” sold for a record $16,322,500. While two classic works by René Magritte also found homes with “La fin du mond,” making $7,026,500, and the painting “Les vacances de hegel,” making $10,162,500. Surrealism is an interesting theme as it attempts to express the workings of the subconscious through fantastic imagery and strange juxtapositions of subject matter, which not everyone appreciates but the works do have quite the solidarity in the art market.
Meanwhile others insights emerged, and that was the continuing market power of Pablo Picasso prints. His famed 1937 etching, "La femme qui pleure, I," sold for $5,122,500 at Christie’s, a record for a single print at auction. Etchings are known to have a high resale value due to the artist’s involvement in their creation and the method employed to create them. Reproduced prints in particular have become steadily incorporated into artists' original prints and are therefore not solely produced, as originally intended, for mass production therefore the value is still there as can be seen in the sale of this Picasso.
Several of our other artists that we feature had great sales as well. Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Portrait en buste de jeune fille” went for $1,874,500, and Wassily Kandinsky’s color-charged 1908 Expressionist composition “Weisser Klang (White Sound)” sold for $8,930,500. These all seem to affirm, when taken in accordance to the auction results of the past few years, that art is a good place to put some of your wealth as it has proven to be a resilient market. The confidence in the art market can only continue to rise as additional Contemporary auctions occur this week.