Grisly contemporary art breaks records in New York
An experimental specialty art auction held in New York far exceeded anyone's expectations. Arranged by Loic Gouzer, the event was titled "If I Live, I'll See You Tuesday" and comprised of various gritty contemporary works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Martin Kippenberger, Richard Prince, On Kawara, Wade Guyton and Dan Colen. All but one of the 35 lots managed to sell, resulting in a total haul of $134.6 million, much more than the $124.1 million target. The auction was considered an experiment, as it was produced outside of the marquee contemporary art auctions that are put on every spring.
An untitled 1988 painting by Martin Kippenberger was the top lot at auction, selling for $18.6 million. The piece depicts a slovenly man slouching and wearing only his underwear, his face obstructed by a blue balloon. Other high-demand pieces include a 1965 black and yellow Warhol silkscreen of an electric chair and a 1991 Peter Doig landscape titled "Roadhouse." They sold for $10.4 million and $11.9 million, respectively. These gritty lots attracted bidders from across the globe, especially from mainland China where contemporary art is being gobbled up by the country's new upper middle class.
A new marketing ploy
The theme of the auction was the grittiness of contemporary art. The idea was to try to tap into a new section of the art collecting market. In order to do this, Gouzer promoted a viral marketing campaign that showed professional skateboarder Chris Martin cruising through the gallery warehouse and exhibition space, passing by all the works that were available at the auction. The four-minute video received over 100,000 views on YouTube as event organizers attempted to promote the auction. It seems the auction was meant to change the stigma associated with art collecting – that it is only for stodgy old rich men. While the prices of the pieces at auction certainly demand a certain level of capital from their bidders, the younger tech millionaires seem to be targeted over the older hedge fund manager types.
This auction was not without its fair share of controversy. Some artists were not enthused with the idea of their work values being overinflated at auction. In response to this, artist Wayne Guyton, whose art is made on inkjet printers, posted a photo on Instagram displaying multiple copies of one of his paintings that was being sold at the auction. This didn't seem to have too big of an effect however, as the piece sold for $3.5 million.
Art collectors will find many lots of fine art listed on iCollector.com.