11 smart moves to access the coming contemporary art cycle

Stefano Pirovano

A new contemporary art season is coming, and hopefully the art writers will have soon better topics to write about than the gloomy trials involving artists and art dealers that took the stage last week. They certainly don’t help to consolidate the confidence of collectors, especially during times of low market. And that seems to be the case right now, at least concerning the emerging artists. At the beginning of the week Phillips has launched its on-line New Now sale catalogue while Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated one is also available and puts side by side minor pieces by contemporary masters such as Gerhard Richter, Anish Kapoor or Alighiero Boetti with respected emerging talents such as Neill Raitt, Charlie Billingham and Paolo Bronstein. There are two relevant facts to be pinpointed. The first one is that the pool of “auctionable” emerging artists is slowly changing shape, but keeping the same perimeter. Early stars such as Oscar Murillo and Lucien Smith are still there, and David Ostrowski too. But also many artists new to the auctions will have their pieces for sale this September, including an unexpected and highly “protected” one such as Jana Euler – at Phillips.
During the last two years we learned that once the auction house door has been opened it can’t be closed, in particular if you are a young artist. The main consequence of this new art rule is that the prices for pieces by young artists are no longer booming at auction. Ideally you should pay the same as if you were buying them at an art fair. Hence, if the sales confirm the estimates, auctions will officially become an alternative to the primary market generally operated by the galleries. And these latter, no matter how “serious” they are supposed to be, will have to be able to turn this issue into an opportunity if they want to carry on their business – which is an extremely difficult one at the moment. Furthermore, on-line sale platforms are rapidly becoming a major new dimension of the market, like a leading fair such as Art Basel seems to know well.
Differently from Phillips and Sotheby’s, Christie’s has not released its September contemporary art sale catalogue yet, but is expected to do it in the next days. Meanwhile, you may get inspired by our selection of upcoming one-man exhibitions. Thanks to Cfa’s patrons, this is intended to be marketing free and truly independent.


Jack McConville – Ibid Gallery (London)
Rodrigo Matheus – Nathalie Obadia
Rodrigo Cass – Fortes Vilaca
Darja Bajagic – Carlos/Ishikawa
Caitlin Keog – Bortolami Gallery
Jana Shroeder – T293 (Rome)
Haig Aivazia – Sfeir Semler Gallery (Beirut)
Donna Huanca – Javier Peres
Reena Spauling – Chantal Crusel
Merlin Carpenter – Dependance
Yves Scherer – Galerie Guido W. Baudach

August 30, 2016