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The Art of Nancy Graves Is ‘Well into the Six Figures’

In its first exhibition of the work of Nancy Graves (1939-95) in February 2005, New York’s Ameringer & Yohe Fine Art priced her sculpture from $30,000/200,000, “but we’ve been slowly raising the prices since then,” gallery owner Will Ameringer told ARTnewsletter.

NEW YORK—In its first exhibition of the work of Nancy Graves (1939-95) in February 2005, New York’s Ameringer & Yohe Fine Art priced her sculpture from $30,000/200,000, “but we’ve been slowly raising the prices since then,” gallery owner Will Ameringer told ARTnewsletter.

“There won’t be anything under $45,000 at our next show”—tentatively slated for the spring of 2007—he affirms. The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., was among the buyers at the February show, acquiring the artist’s 1970 sculpture Pleistocene Skeleton for “well into the six figures,” Ameringer says.

Overall the gallery has sold 19 sculptures, all priced in the $30,000/200,000 range, since taking over representation of the estate—the Nancy Graves Foundation, Manhattan—more than a year ago. (Prior to management by Ameringer & Yohe, the artist and her estate were represented by Knoedler & Company, New York City.)

The Graves foundation uses the proceeds from sales to provide grants of $25,000 each for three artists annually. (Selection is based on nomination rather than by application.)

There have been fewer sales of paintings by

the artist. They fetch figures ranging from $45,000/60,000, with the average price around $50,000 (depending upon size and whether or not the works have any three-dimensional elements). Graves’ works on paper (drawings and prints, etchings, lithographs and silk screens in editions of 50/100) range in price from $10,000/50,000.

Most of the Ameringer & Yohe sales stem from pieces in the estate. Linda Kramer, executive director of the foundation, told ARTnewsletter there is “a significant amount” of work there, representing pieces in all media from the 1960s to the end of Graves’ life. Both Kramer and Ameringer declined to comment on the number of pieces in the estate or their appraised value.

Graves worked in a wide variety of media throughout her career, including painting, printmaking, watercolors and gouaches, films and

sculpture. “During her lifetime she had many shows of paintings,” says Ameringer, “but as time has passed, she has become more known as a sculptor. Our goal has been to show the relationship of the two- and three-dimensional works.”

Noting that “we don’t see a lot of secondary-market pieces,” Ameringer says that during the time the gallery has represented the estate, only one of the artist’s works has come up at auction—a small 1983 sculpture, Nike, that sold at Christie’s in 2005 for $36,000 (estimate: $18,000/22,000). The highest auction price to date is $132,000, given at Sotheby’s in 1988 for the bronze sculpture Conjugate, 1958, which outpaced the $75,000/85,000 estimate.

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