NEW YORK—An exhibition of paintings by Oliver Marsden (b. 1973) at New York’s Galerie Mourlot, which closed April 12, was a near sellout, with 12 of the 13 paintings on view finding buyers, reports gallery owner Eric Mourlot. Available in two sizes—11-by-11 inches and 77-by-77 inches—the works fetched $7,000 and $30,000, respectively.
At first sight, Marsden’s paintings may appear to be just big circles of color; these in turn give way to different forms and colors. In his latest body of work, the artist explains, he has been “freeing up—using painting as a way of focusing thought” to achieve what he calls visual harmonics.
On the other side of the Atlantic, interest in the British artist’s paintings is even greater: All 20 paintings in Marsden’s first show at London’s Fine Art Society gallery in mid-2007 were sold on opening night. This prompted gallery director Toby Clarke to round up another eight or nine works from both Marsden’s previous London dealer (the Blue Gallery, which had been bought out a year before) and from the artist’s own studio in order to have something more to sell.
“We had 12 commissions from 12 different individuals for more paintings—and then there was a collector who commissioned 50 paintings that are going to be displayed at a museum,” Clarke told ARTnewsletter. He declines to reveal the names of either the collector or the museum.
Values Up 25 Percent
Between the Fine Art Society’s exhibition and the one at Galerie Mourlot, prices for Marsden’s pictures have climbed nearly 25 percent, reports Clarke, who notes that 20 collectors are currently on a waiting list for the artist’s works.
Adding that he, too, is looking to acquire more of Marsden’s paintings, Clarke recalls buying his first five in 1997, directly out of Marsden’s graduate school exhibition at the Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland.
Marsden, who lives in Gloucestershire, England, refers to his paintings as “blessings”—what he perceives as little glimpses into the workings of the universe. At one time he was an assistant to artist Damien Hirst, who, he tells ARTnewsletter, “has sent some clients to me” who have since become collectors of his works. Besides his following in the U.S. and England, Marsden has found favor with collectors in Japan.
The artist has had previous shows in the U.S.—at New York’s Spencer Brownstone Gallery in the late 1990s (a price list from a 1997 show of 5- and 6-foot-square paintings ranged from $3,000/5,500) and as part of a group show at the Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, in 2004.
No Marsden works have appeared at auction to date, although some pieces have appeared on the secondary market—principally at the Fine Art Society, which achieved $40,000 for one large-scale work.