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‘Committed’ Collectors Snap Up Katharina Fritsch’s Iconic Works

Katharina Fritsch’s current exhibition at the Matthew Marks Gallery (through June 14) consists of about 20 works—life-size, monochrome painted sculptures of humans (usually male) or animals—as well as large-scale silk-screen prints and installations consisting of paired sculptures and prints.

NEW YORK—Katharina Fritsch’s current exhibition at the Matthew Marks Gallery (through June 14) consists of about 20 works—life-size, monochrome painted sculptures of humans (usually male) or animals—as well as large-scale silk-screen prints and installations consisting of paired sculptures and prints.

Dealer Matthew Marks says that the artist sometimes refuses to let him sell certain pieces or attaches “rules to go along with the work, such as the space she wants to see it in. I may be able to work within those limitations, or I may have to move on.” Certain works on exhibit cannot be sold unless the buyer can accommodate the artist’s requirements.

The stand-alone silk screens in the current show cost $75,000 (though one is priced at $135,000), and individual sculptures are priced between $250,000 and $650,000. Installation prices range up to “just under a million dollars,” Marks says. According to Marks, there have been sales to private collectors in the U.S. and Europe.

Marks says the artist has a small group of highly devoted private and institutional collectors on both sides of the Atlantic who buy in depth. The Matthew Marks Gallery has represented the artist since 1994—she is represented by White Cube in the U.K.—and has seen a “gradual increase in prices” for her work over the five shows it has staged since 1996.

Fritsch, who was born in Essen in 1956 and currently lives in Düsseldorf, represented Germany in the 1995 Venice Biennale and has had solo exhibitions at Tate Modern, London; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Basel; Dia Center for the Arts, New York; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

“She has always had a significant following in this country, even more than in Europe, and it has been that way since 1994,” Marks notes. Secondary-market sales through galleries have occurred, but they are “rare events,” Marks says, adding that his highest resale price for one of her works is $2 million.

Collectors occasionally bring Fritsch’s work to auction, where the top public sale price to date is £159,200 ($281,000), paid for the sculpture Ghost and Pool of Blood, 1988, at Christie’s London in October 2005, vastly exceeding the auctioneer’s $70,000/105,000 estimate. That piece came from the Daros Collection, and was purchased by a private U.S. collector who, according to Marks, intends to donate the work to a museum.

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