NEW YORK—Postwar and contemporary art returned to the forefront of the fall auctions, as blue-chip Popart and modern masterpieces drew seasoned buyers and top-quality contemporary works continued to attract newcomers. Auction-house experts took note of the range and depth of bids that poured in from all over the globe in sales held Nov. 8–11, in particular, they observed an influx from Asian and Russian buyers. Despite continued uncertainty about the broader economy, the results pointed to widespread, thriving demand for contemporary art.
The total volume of $755.1 million at the Phillips de Pury & Company, Sotheby’s and Christie’s contemporary sales surpassed the Impressionist art total of $538.8 million achieved the prior week (ANL, 11/16/10), an indication of the shift in tastes attributable to more and more younger buyers entering the marketplace, as well as a reflection of the ongoing shrinkage of the supply of Impressionist and modern masterpieces available on the market. A total of 11 works sold for over $10 million apiece, a figure experts say is a sign of concentrated, robust demand at the top end of the market.
Following its $223 million contemporary evening sale, Sotheby’s worldwide head of contemporary art, Tobias Meyer, said the strength of the auction reflected both the “iconic classical market and the young market.” Editing the works, “getting the right young, Pop and Abstract Expressionist material,” was also key, said Alex Rotter, Sotheby’s New York head of contemporary art.
After Christie’s evening sale posted a total of $273 million, Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas, said that “we continue to see ever-increasing demand from both new and established collectors with deep stores of wealth.”