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Recent Shows Spark Rise in Sales, Audience for Gordon Matta-Clark

It has been a busy few years in the market for work by Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–78), and attention is steadily growing.

NEW YORK—It has been a busy few years in the market for work by Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–78), and attention is steadily growing. A 2007 retrospective, “You Are the Measure,” organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, in 2008, introduced Matta-Clark’s work to a much wider audience.

Since then there have been smaller-scale international exhibitions; now the artist’s work is part of, among other group shows, “Contemporary Art from the Collection,” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (through Sept. 12).

The David Zwirner gallery, New York, which has represented the artist’s estate since the late 1990s, recently closed a five week show of sculptural pieces, photographs, and works on paper from 1970–74 by Matta-Clark and others associated with the raw exhibition space at 112 Greene Street in SoHo, a starting point for many conceptual and performance artists between 1970 and 1980.

Matta-Clark was the star of the Zwirner exhibition, represented by 39 works, most of which were photographs and sculptures. His work typically falls into two broad categories: site-specific films, photographs and drawings that document abandoned and decaying buildings; and sections of ceilings, floors and walls of abandoned structures that Matta-Clark exhibited and called “building cuts.”

Julia Joern, a director of the gallery, noted that Matta-Clark has “an incredible cult following among artists and architects,” although the Whitney retrospective allowed far more people to find out about the artist and “look at his work for the first time.” She added that there has been “a lot of demand from university and smaller museums for loans” of Matta-Clark’s work. Prices have risen with the overall interest.

All of the Matta-Clark works in the exhibit were for sale, and Joern said 20 pieces were bought. “There were also a number of the artist’s works that we keep in inventory that also were sold,” she said. Buyers were primarily private collectors, most from the United States as well as from Europe and South America, she noted.

Prices for Matta-Clark’s photographs range from $30,000/60,000 for editioned works, up to $120,000/250,000 for images that he hand-painted or that are unique and uneditioned Cibachromes. His drawings range from $50,000/100,000; his films cost $12,000/30,000; and his sculptures start at $500,000. At the Zwirner show the 1972 sculpture Fresh Art Cart brought in $1.5 million.

At auction, the artist’s record to date is $225,500 (estimate: $200,000/300,000) for a 1972 installation, Bronx Floors: Threshole at Christie’s in 1999, followed by $114,000 (estimate: $40,000/60,000) for the six-part photographic installation Splitting: Exterior, 1974, at Christie’s in 2006 and $90,000 (estimate: $50,000/70,000) for the Cibachrome triptych Office Baroque at Christie’s in 2005.

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