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Bjarne Melgaard’s Abstracts Bring Out European Buyers

Bjarne Melgaard (b. 1967), known for his drawings and scribbled-on paintings of counterculture and subjects such as homosexuality, prostitution, pain and death, has a growing following among European collectors.

NEW YORK—Bjarne Melgaard (b. 1967), known for his drawings and scribbled-on paintings of counterculture and subjects such as homosexuality, prostitution, pain and death, has a growing following among European collectors.

Last fall Galleri Faurschou, Copenhagen, held an exhibition of six large-scale, 7-by-10-foot paintings and more than 30 of the artist’s

2-by-3-foot drawings. Everything was sold out, all to private collectors in Europe, reports gallery owner Jans Faurschou. The paintings were priced at $30,000, while the drawings went for $1,200/3,600. He notes that since 2002, prices have climbed 66 percent for Melgaard works.

The recent show was Galleri Faurschou’s second showing of the artist’s work; its previous exhibition, in 2002, contained three installations. Two of these were acquired by museums in Oslo—the National Gallery of Oslo and the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art.

Prices for Melgaard prints are based on the type of the work and the size of the edition. The Niels Borch Jensen gallery, Berlin, charges $4,000 for black-and-white etchings from editions containing 24 works. Photogravure prints, in edition sizes of five, cost $2,000 apiece, and one installation containing 26 images is priced at $15,000.

In general, Melgaard’s installations are comprised of paintings that may be sold individually. Larger paintings, extending 10 feet or more, are priced at $48,000 at Galeria Senda, Barcelona.

During the past few years, Melgaard’s work has become more abstract in its imagery, less obviously focused on violence, says Sabine Dorscheid, assistant director of Galerie Krinzinger. “Some people were shocked by the older works,” she adds, “and are more interested in the abstract ones.”

Melgaard, who lives in Berlin and Oslo, works with a variety of dealers in Europe. Galeria Senda represents him in Spain, while Faurschou covers the Scandinavian countries. Niels Borch Jensen and Galerie Krinzinger represent his art in Germany and Austria, respectively.

Seeking an American dealer

Other galleries in Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands have staged exhibitions of his work on a more casual basis. For several years Melgaard was represented in North America by New York’s DCA Gallery, which closed last year; his European representatives have been looking at Manhattan dealers for a venue in which to present his works on a regular basis.

Faurschou says that his gallery handles some Melgaard work on the secondary market, but not much, since it’s “rare that anyone wants to sell them.” At Oslo’s Blomqvist auction house last year, Ghost Ship, 2000, an 87-by-74-inch work in oil, oil stick and ink on canvas, earned $46,317, surpassing the $39,429/42,462 estimate.

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