27 June 2005


Andries and Fred of 34 Long just returned from an exciting trip to London. Attending the various Contemporary Art Auctions at Christies, Sotheby’s and Bonhams spanning 4 days as well as visiting Galleries and art fairs. 

The auctions commenced with a Modern & Contemporary Art Sale at Bonhams on 20 June where there were no less than three drawings by artist William Kentridge as well as an Artthrob portfolio. A drawing from Sobriety, Obesity and Growing old, signed and dated ’91, ( 65 x 93cm ) sold for 12 000 UK Pounds.  It was however the works by Congo the chimp that attracted all the media attention. This was the first time ever that an artwork by a primate was sold at a Contemporary Art Auction. The lot comprising of three tempera on paper 'works', ( 35 x 45cm ) estimated at 600-800 UK Pounds was sold for 12 000 UK Pounds; with loud applause from the audience. 
At  Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale a work by William Kentridge, Collage on Atlas Index,  pencil and card collage on book pages 48,2 x 249,5cm,succeed in fetching 28 800 UK Pounds in spite of obvious damage and not being signed. 

There were no less than 15 works in various media by Marlene Dumas and prices varied between 1200 UK Pounds for a lithograph from an edition of  /60 to 210 000 UK Pounds for a 35 x 25cm oil on canvas, entitled “Handy “. Looking at the difference in prices, it is clear that collectors and dealers alike are prepared to pay high prices for exceptional works.

Currently on at the Tate Modern, 9 June – 9 October 2005,  is a Retrospective,  Frida Kahlo : 6 July 1907 - 13 July 1954. The exhibition comprise of early works, watercolours and drawings, works about birth and death, still-life, the two Frida’s, self-portraits and in the one side room a number of portraits of Kahlo’s friends and patrons. 

Reflecting on these International auctions it is very clear that South Africa is not at all well represented in the International secondary market with the blame solely in front of the door of Dealers and Galleries claiming to represent artists without going all the way to promote and sell their work internationally. A regular supply of the artist work to the secondary market to ensure that the work is seen by a wider audience than the visitors to the Gallery is also needed. Here the Internationally Galleries and collectors are playing a crucial role to provide the Auction Houses with current and new work by the artists.  

We hope to see much more South African art at the future auctions.

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