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Prices Ratchet Up for Paintings by Neo Rauch

Artist Neo Rauch, known for his crisp, colorful figurative paintings, was born in the German Democratic Republic in 1960 and continues to live and work in Leipzig. Collectors buy everything he produces and queue up for more.

NEW YORK—Artist Neo Rauch, known for his crisp, colorful figurative paintings, was born in the German Democratic Republic in 1960 and continues to live and work in Leipzig. Collectors buy everything he produces and queue up for more.

“The increase in the number of buyers over the past 10 years has been dramatic,” says Solveig Rietschel, director of Berlin’s Galerie Eigen + Art. She cites, as opportunities for a growing number of people to see Rauch’s work, displays of his pictures at last fall’s Sao Paolo Biennial, Brazil; the current Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (through March 20); and recent shows at SITE Santa Fe, N.Mex., and the Albertina Museum, Vienna.

Increased interest has also translated into escalating prices, says Hanna Schouwink, director of Manhattan’s David Zwirner Gallery, which has represented Rauch in North America since 1999.

“Prices have increased five-fold since then,” she reports. “A consensus has formed over the past couple of years: People recognize Rauch as one of the most interesting painters of his generation.” A show of the artist’s work at the Zwirner Gallery, from May 9-June 18, will consist of approximately 10 paintings priced from $200,000/250,000—up considerably from the $75,000/85,000 price range for his last show at Zwirner in spring 2002.

Size factors into the price range, since some oil- on-canvas paintings run to 7-by-15 feet, while others are 7-by-10 feet. Schouwink adds that the sizable price jump can be further attributed to the decline of the dollar against the euro these past several months. Rauch also creates a smaller number of oil-on-paper paintings, which are priced at $108,000/162,000.

A number of collectors putting their Rauch works up for sale have found strong prices, most notably at auction. The highest public sale price to date is $196,500, paid for the 98-by-78-inch Gegenlicht, 2000, an oil on canvas that was estimated at $100,000/150,000 in 2003 by Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg.

Other top prices include $186,700 (estimate: $60,000/80,000) for the oil Kamin, 2000, at Christie’s in 2004; $163,500 (estimate: $40,000/50,000) for the oil-on-paper Hafenstadt, 1995, at Phillips in 2003; and $136,000 (estimate: $50,000/70,000) for the oil-on-canvas Lokal, 1998, also at Phillips in 2003.

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