NEW YORK—Prices for the abstract-Expressionist work of Pat Steir (b. 1940) have doubled in the nine years since Cheim & Read, New York, has been acting as her primary dealer.
Steir’s most recent exhibition at the gallery took place in spring 2005. It featured seven paintings that yielded several immediate sales and opened discussions about further acquisitions with “a number of institutions,” says Adam Sheffer, director of Cheim & Read.
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, paid “over $100,000” for Steir’s 9-by-9-foot Sand, from the gallery’s 2002 show of her work, Sheffer reports, noting that it is the museum’s third purchase of a work by the artist.
Sheffer says Steir’s pieces range in size from 7-by-7 feet to 9-by-9-feet and are priced from $75,000/150,000.
Before connecting with Cheim & Read, Steir was represented by New York’s Robert Miller Gallery. Other galleries, working through Cheim & Read, also have displayed her works, including Rhona Hoffman, Chicago; Marian Locks, Philadelphia; Jonathan Novak, Los Angeles; and Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin.
Besides her painting, Steir, who studied graphic art at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, is a prolific printmaker. Since 1977 she has produced more than 30 editions of etchings, primarily with Crown Point Press gallery,San Francisco. These range in edition sizes from 20-40 and average about 25, explains Valerie Wade, director of the gallery. Some editions have sold out, Wade says, adding that the general prices for Steir’s prints ranges from $1,800/3,500.
Although the artist’s works are classified by different periods—defined roughly as “earlier postmodern,” “the ‘Waterfall’ series” and “images of the cosmos”—Cheim & Read’s Sheffer says there is no one period that is more sought-after than another, “and we try to keep all the prices the same.”
The highest public-sale price for a Steir work to date is $33,000 (estimate: $30,000/40,000), given at Sotheby’s in 1989 for an oil on canvas, The Moon and the Wave: Courbet’s Moon, 1986-87.Other top auction prices include $29,900 (estimate $30,000/40,000), paid at Christie’s in 1999 for First Wave After Hokusai in Blue, 1986; and $28,600 (estimate $25,000/35,000), fetched at Christie’s in 1987 for the oil Brilliant Brazilian Painting, 1981.