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Petah Coyne’s Sculpture: The Waiting List Grows

The waiting list for mixed-media sculpture by Petah Coyne (b. 1953) continues to grow, reports her dealer Mark Hughes, director of Galerie Lelong, New York. Three collectors are in line for a wall piece, Camel’s Back, says Hughes, adding that the amount of available work is small, since Coyne “makes only two or three pieces

NEW YORK—The waiting list for mixed-media sculpture by Petah Coyne (b. 1953) continues to grow, reports her dealer Mark Hughes, director of Galerie Lelong, New York.

Three collectors are in line for a wall piece, Camel’s Back, says Hughes, adding that the amount of available work is small, since Coyne “makes only two or three pieces a year.” The gallery has represented the artist since the late 1990s.

Coyne’s works, painstaking in execution, are composed of materials such as hair, silk flowers, wax, wood, chicken wire and taxidermy. “All sorts of things go into Petah’s work, some we don’t know about,” says Hughes.

Coyne’s exhibition at the gallery last January featured seven works ranging from the early 1990s to the present, as well as a few additional pieces from Galerie Lelong’s inventory.

Most of the seven principal pieces were sold to private collectors and two museums. The Jocelyn Museum in Omaha, Neb., purchased a floor piece, Paris Blue, and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Mo., acquired the ceiling-hung Black Chandelier. Three of the additional works (one wall-mounted, two ceiling-hung) also found private buyers.

An exhibit of Coyne’s works, organized by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y., is currently traveling. It remains at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art through Nov. 17, goes on to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Ariz. (Jan. 21-May 7), and ends back at the Albright-Knox (June 9-Sept. 17).

Wall-mounted works range in price from $15,000 for smaller works to $100,000 (Camel’s Back is more than seven feet across), while floor pieces are priced from $50,000/100,000, and ceiling-hung works sell for $80,000/150,000, all depending upon scale. Coyne also has produced photographs, though none in the past three years, Hughes notes. They are priced at $3,500 for 11-by-14-inch pieces (framed) and $8,000 for 40-by-60-inch ones (framed).

Hughes says Coyne’s collectors are mainly U.S.-based, though her work increasingly has been included in exhibitions abroad. Collectors show a decided preference for minimalist art, says Hughes, and “though Coyne’s work is quite over the top, it is also minimal. There’s little variation in color—it’s largely all black or all white.”

In the three-and-a-half years Coyne has been represented by Galerie Lelong, “nothing has come up for resale,” notes Hughes. “People like to hold on to [her pieces], or else they give them to museums.”

The only works by the artist that have been sold at auction to date are photographs. A 1992 black-and-white Untitled #735 (Monks II) brought $2,280 (estimate: $2,500/3,500) at a Christie’s auction in Los Angeles in 2001; and two black-and-white works, also from 1992, Untitled #738 and Untitled #735 (Monks II), together sold for $1,793 (estimate: $3,000/5,000) at Christie’s New York in 2003.

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