The last three years in the global art market have seen massive changes. The overall leaders have completely changed, with China rising from third and fourth place in the last decade to first in 2010. Meanwhile, France seems to be in a downward spiral, hard-pressed for a solution to fix its market. Their history has been prosperous in the past, but the 20th century has been less than kind. American art is still a viable commodity within the global market, however, as can be seen by Andy Warhol’s “performance” in 2010.
The taste of an art audience varies year by year, and with the 1991 crash and recovery shifting the focus from what was popular towhat sells. Fast forward to 2007, and the dominance of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Andy Warhol (1928-1987) on the art market, intermixed with a few Impressionist, as well as a massive Chinese influence-all of which helped to form the art world into a global economy that is approaching 10 billion dollars per year. Andy Warhol is at the forefront of these sales, with his revenue alone in 2010 being his all time high of $313, 535, 564.
So what does this mean for the rest of the art world? Has Andy Warhol saved it for future years, or is this just a solitary spike? His art has become synonymous with commercialized pop-art, and also with post-war contemporary artists in general. He has become known as relatively affordable, with about 40% of his work being priced below $10,000. Yet, his “masterpieces” continue to shatter world art auction records. What is going on?
All of this is combined with the fact that in 2010 his work Man in Her Life (1962) was sold for $56 million as the 4th highest of the year, which gave Warhol’s work a new resurgence . The New Britain Museum of American Art owns Man Ray which a great example of his work. The blue and grey overlaid with on an image of Man Ray himself looking to the right is classic in its similarities to Warhol’s earlier work. The large portion of black also is characteristic of Warhol.
The question then becomes not if Warhol has achieved a status that will carry others into the most profitable artists of the near future-but rather, a question of whom in fact will be next to keep the numbers up. According to Art Market Trends 2010, that artist is Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). His work has sold for triple its estimates in London, and in 2010 one piece sold for his record high of $38 million. And with their prediction, American artists are drastically increasing their portion of the sales in New York City. Lichtenstein is one such artist which is making this happen, and overseas his work is also gaining attention. Soon he will be considered in the same circle as Warhol, Picasso, and Jackson Pollock. Keep Lichtenstein on your radar for future purchases! But in the mean time, come to the NBMAA to see the works of Warhol, Pollock, and hundreds of other American artists.
What do you think of these record-breaking sales? Are these contemporary artworks “worth” millions? Why or why not? Do you think Warhol will always command high prices? Why is he so popular now? Which artist of today will sell for millions in the near future? Which will sell for millions in 100 years? Is there any way to predict?