The art industry is thriving, there is no denying. From long-established capitals of the art market such as New York, London and Paris, to emerging auction houses in South Africa, buzzing activities in the trading of artworks including paintings, sculptures, textiles, etc… have generated a billion dollar business. One has the impression that the role of the market has never been more influential in determining the value of an artwork, likewise, the prominence of an artist. After the record-setting week for Christie in mid-May 2015, during which it has totaled at various auctions $1.7 billion from sales, artists such as Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko, and Robert Rauschenberg emerged as the emblem of the triumphant dominance of abstraction in contemporary art scene. The most obvious implication one can get from a glance at the most recent auctions is that buying contemporary, minimalist, and geometric abstract arts has become one of the best forms of investment (reserved for the extremely rich, of course). For instance, Mondrian’s Composition No. III, with Red, Blue, Yellow, and Black (1929) recently sold at $45 million, $50.6 million with buyer’s premium – a new record for the artist, whereas the last time the piece came on the block 18 years ago, it sold for a mere $3.8 million. What is usually seen as boring repetition and absurd simplicity by laymen in Mondrian’s and Rothko’s paintings are precisely the qualities that attracted bidders. Take the example of Monet’s Paysage de matin, included in the same lot with the above mentioned Mondrian’s. The piece faired poorly and ended up well beneath its low-end estimate, for the very understandable reason that it lacks the signature haystacks of the more successful pieces. Clearly, “people are very attached to the subject matter as a price point for the artist.” Colorful geometrical grids filled with red, blue, yellow and black? 99 percent a Mondrian’s. A blank colored canvas, or one that contains several strips of brownish colors varied in degree? There is a very high chance that it’s a Rothko’s. It is safe to claim that the more easily it is to link an artwork to a specific artist, the higher price it may fetch in an auction.

source #ArtNews

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