5 JULY 2010

Andries Loots and Fred de Jager of 34FINEART currently on their winter break are reporting on their visit to London and Basel focusing on how the contemporary art market is recovering from the credit crunch of 2009, and scouting for new works for the Gallery. 

Pablo Picasso, Portrait d'Angel Fernandez de Soto
Sold for £34,761,250 at Christie's 23 June
They report:  

The highlight in London was Picasso: The Mediterranean Years (1945-1962) at Gagosian Gallery; June 4 - August 28, 2010. The exhibition includes important portraits of Françoise, Claude, Paloma and his last great muse Jacqueline; linocuts, ceramics and several iconic sculptures (La guenon et son petit, 1951, Petite fille sautant à la corde, 1950, La femme enceinte I, 1950, and Sylvette, 1954). It is organized around generous loans of works from members of the Picasso family that have come to be known as Picasso's Picassos ( Gagosian Press release, 2010 ). With another work,
Portrait d'Angel Fernandez de Soto, 1949, just sold at Christies London sale of 24 June for the astounding amount of £34,761,250 Pounds, one can clearly see the huge interest in the work of Picasso. This world-class exhibition covers all genres of Picasso's personal favourite works. 

After spotting a notice in the ART Newspaper about Louis Maqhubela exhibiting, we followed the directions to Artfirst Gallery where we arrived at a small temporary space/office with friendly staff. We were shown a selection of work that was not included in the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg for his upcoming retrospective exhibition curated by Marilyn Martin (Maqhubela: A Vigil of Departure, 3 August to 18 September 2010). Louis Maqhubela like Sekoto left South Africa and lived and worked in London since 1978. The work of artist Douglas Portway (1922-1933), had a profound influence on Maqhubela. Interaction with other European artists also had an impact on his work and led him away from his known Polly Street, township style to the abstract approach that was common in his later work. The show will also travel to Cape Town to the National Gallery.

Ai Weiwei installation
ArtBasel, Scope and List15 were next on the programme. We were impressed with the diversity and quality of the artworks on display. Thousands of collectors, buyers, curators and even royalty were browsing around and looking for a special piece of art to take home. Millions of Euros were spent not only on works by Picasso, Miro and Matisse but also on Contemporary works. The audience attending Basel is mature with a deep understanding and appreciation for art. True to its reputation Art Basel is still the place where dealers and Galleries display works by the best Modern masters such as Pollock, de Kooning and contemporary artists like Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami. The overall mood was positive. There were strong sales across the board although buyers are still more selective and although volumes of sales increased since the previous year, sales in excess of 2.5 million dollars took longer to conclude. Despite the troubled Euro, buyers from Europe were out in full force, but there were markedly fewer American buyers and fewer works by emerging Asian artists. 

Koons and Murakami paintings at Gagosian

On the contrary Japanese art was well represented. Takashi Murakami displayed an impressive oil on canvas work at Gagosian Gallery and a new large scale bronze at Gallery Emmanuel Perrotin. A Takashi Murakami exhibition in Qatar planned for 2012 is going to be "much bigger" than the version due to open in the Palace of Versailes in September, says Emmanuel Perotin, who represents him. The Versailes show ( 14 September 2010 - 12 December 2010 ) is partly funded by Qatar Museums Authority (QMA). According to Perrotin: " It will be a new concept and much broader," when unveiled in the Gulf state. Members of the Qatari Royal family, including Sheila Mozath Al-Thani, were among the VIP visitors to Art Basel with QMA director Roger Mandle. Visitors also queued to experience Yayoi Kusama’s infinity installation comprising a room fitted with mirrors and lanterns.

Kusama infinity installation

Ai Weiwei sculpture

Works by Murakami and Dumas
Although many of the Galleries were lesser known at scope we were impressed with the quality and diversity of the art. We spotted some of Motel7's work at the Willem Kerseboom’s stall. The Gallery is not only specializing in Chinese Contemporary art but has taken on Motel7 as a Gallery artist in 2009. After a short conversation with the Gallery owner, we were given the assurance that the market is moving up and in the right direction again. 

We found LISTE15 less impressive and a difficult space to navigate. 

Overall the contemporary market has improved and we will report on the auctions in our next article. 

Kentridge tapestry

Xiaogang painting

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