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Andrew Wyeth: Every Period Is Selling at High Prices

An upcoming retrospective of Andrew Wyeth (b. 1917) is heightening market interest in the artist’s work. The exhibition, “Andrew Wyeth: Memory & Magic,” opens at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art in November (through Feb. 26, 2006), and moves on to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (March 29-July 16).

NEW YORK—An upcoming retrospective of Andrew Wyeth (b. 1917) is heightening market interest in the artist’s work. The exhibition, “Andrew Wyeth: Memory & Magic,” opens at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art in November (through Feb. 26, 2006), and moves on to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (March 29-July 16).

No gallery has represented Wyeth since Coe Kerr Gallery, New York, closed in the early 1990s; most of his works are sold on the secondary market. New York dealers the likes of Adelson Galleries, James Graham & Sons and Spanierman Gallery periodically offer Wyeth works for sale, mainly consigned by collectors, which have included paintings (in tempera on panel) or works on paper (drawings, gouaches and watercolors).

Priscilla V. Caldwell, director of James Graham & Sons, said that Wyeth drawings generally sell in the $45,000/65,000 range and that temperas attract “millions of dollars.” Adelson Galleries, for instance, has a 1997 tempera painting by Wyeth for which it is asking $1.5 million, as well as a number of watercolors priced from $250,000/600,000. The lack of a New York gallery presence is “not really a relevant concern” for Wyeth, because “he is so well- established in American art,” says director Warren Adelson. He adds there is no specific “vintage” period for Wyeth, and works ranging across various decades all sell at high prices.

Wyeth also continues to produce new work, which is sold by Frank Fowler, an agent based in Lookout Mountain, Tenn. Though Fowler did not supply specific prices, he told ARTnewsletter that new watercolors range in price from $200,000/400,000, with dry-brush watercolors costing “considerably more,” and tempera paintings going for “up to $5 million.”

The top auction price for Wyeth’s work is $3.8 million, for the 1987 tempera Battle Ensign, which nearly doubled Sotheby’s high estimate of $2 million in May. Other top prices: $2.5 million (estimate: $1.5/2 million), for the 1975 tempera The Quaker; $1.8 million (estimate: $900,000/1.2 million), for the 1972 tempera Nogeeshik; and $1.7 million (estimate: $2/3 million), for the 1965 tempera Weather Side, all at Sotheby’s in 2000.

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