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International Demand for Kuitca Fuels Rise in Prices

All but one of the 16 recent paintings by Argentine artist Guillermo Kuitca (b. 1961) on view at Sperone Westwater, New York, through Nov. 6, have been purchased by private collectors, according to gallery co-owner Angela Westwater.

NEW YORK—All but one of the 16 recent paintings by Argentine artist Guillermo Kuitca (b. 1961) on view at Sperone Westwater, New York, through Nov. 6, have been purchased by private collectors, according to gallery co-owner Angela Westwater. Many of the artist’s shows at the gallery during the 18 years that Sperone Westwater has represented Kuitca have sold out, Westwater said, but the success of the current show may be due in part to a career-long (1980–2008) retrospective of his art, currently on view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (through Jan. 16). The exhibition was previously at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y., the Miami Art Museum, Fla., and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

The Kuitca show is Sperone Westwater’s first in its new space—a sleek, newly completed eight-floor building designed by Norman Foster on the Bowery in downtown Manhattan, which reportedly cost $20million. A large elevator and “moving gallery,” in which Kuitca’s Le Sacre, 1992, an installation of painted mattresses, currently hangs, shuttles visitors between exhibition spaces on the second and third floors.

“The retrospective leads into our exhibition, because our works build on the last works in the retrospective,” Westwater told ARTnewsletter.

Prices for the abstract, conceptual paintings (all of them untitled) are in the $60,000/500,000 range, depending on size; the smallest measures 15 by 27 inches and the largest 77 by 148 inches. There are other works available by the artist at the gallery, including collages on paper, priced at $65,000/135,000, and small drawings in a water-based medium, priced at $15,000 apiece although many are sold in sets, Westwater said. There are also handmade books consisting of paintings on silk placed in glass and wood boxes ($115,000).

The artist’s prices “are approaching double” what they were in 2005, Westwater said. The buyers who acquired works from the current show are mainly North American collectors, she said, but also include two buyers from France and two from South America. She added that some were “first-time buyers who were first made aware of him through the retrospective.”

Earlier this year, Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, which has had five Kuitca shows since 2001, had its own exhibition of seven new works. Several were sold, according to associate director Anna Helwing, though she declined to give a specific number. She noted that Kuitca is “a little less well known in Europe than in the United States, although he is very well known in Spain.”

Sperone Westwater occasionally handles Kuitca’s work on the secondary market, Westwater said, with prices ranging up to $290,000 for an early work by the artist. Over the past decade, Kuitca’s work has regularly come up at auction. The top auction price of $265,000 was paid at Christie’s in 2007 for an untitled 1998 oil and charcoal on canvas (estimate: $120,000/180,000).

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