TOKYO—Shinwa Art Auction’s sale of contemporary art on Dec. 2 realized ¥129.14 million ($1.1 million), with 115, or 95 percent, of 121 lots sold. The overall volume was down by nearly half of last May’s contemporary art sale as the auctioneer chose to focus mainly on the work of Asian artists.
The sale produced strong prices for several pieces, including the highest-selling lot—Yoshitomo Nara’s this is how it feels when your word means nothing at all/girl, 1995—an acrylic on canvas that brought ¥13 million ($112,700), comfortably above the estimated ¥7/12 million. Nara’s Swimming School, 1997, fetched ¥4.2 million, or $36,400 (estimate: ¥3.5/5 million).
A 1988 oil on canvas, Work (from Winds), by Lee U-Fan, a Korean artist based in Japan, brought ¥12 million ($104,000), well above the estimated ¥5/7 million. Another painting by the same artist, Work (Correspondence), a 1992 oil, realized ¥9 million, or $78,000 (estimate: ¥6/9 million).
Several pieces by Yayoi Kusama sold above estimate, including: Pumpkin (A.C.), 1990, an acrylic on canvas that went for ¥4.2 million, or $36,400 (estimate: ¥2.5/3 million); and Pumpkin, 1990, which sold for ¥3.2 million, or $27,700 (estimate: ¥1.8/2.8 million).
Natsuyuki Nakanishi’s Arc82-IV, 1982, earned ¥2.6 million ($22,500), more than the estimated ¥1.8/2.5 million. Takashi Murakami’s And then, And then, And then, And then, And then (aqua blue, pink, red, yellow), 1999, a silkscreen on paper, sold for ¥1.2 million, or $10,400 (estimate: ¥1.2/1.8 million). Hisashi Tenmyouya’s 2003 Conquest of the Karasu Tengu, from the New Hundred Ghost Stories Series, in acrylic on wood, fell for ¥2.3 million ($19,900), more than double the estimated ¥700,000/1 million.
Atsuko Tanaka’s Work 1985-4 took ¥7.2 million, or $62,000 (estimate: ¥500,000/800,000); and On Kawara’s One Million Years, a pair of books, 1999, earned ¥620,000, or $5,400 (estimate: ¥500,000/1 million).
Yasumasa Morimura’s Doublonnge: Danger II, 1988,sold for ¥600,000, or $5,200 (estimate: ¥600,000/900,000). Tomio Miki’s 1970 EAR-EA06.1970.2, in cast aluminum, went for ¥2.2 million, or $19,000 (estimate: ¥1.2/2 million). ButTadashi Kawamata’s 1988 Construction Site Project Fukuroi A-1, in plywood, balsa wood and acrylic color, failed to sell.
Shinwa expressed optimism about the potential for growth in the contemporary art market, and going forward, will hold two contemporary sales each year. The next one is scheduled to take place this spring.
Modern Art Ends Year on High Note
Shinwa’s auction of modern art last November realized ¥822.73 million ($7 million)—a considerable increase from the earlier sale on Sept. 16, which made ¥481.09 million ($4 million). Overall, 187, or 92 percent, of 204 lots found buyers. Nihonga, or traditional Japanese painting, led the sale. Matazo Kayama’s Neko (Cat), sold for ¥42 million, or $357,500 (estimate: ¥40/60 million).
Among the top lots of Western paintings: Pierre-August Renoir’s Buste de femme, a small 1904 oil painting, took ¥24 million ($204,300), about double the estimated ¥9/12 million; and Marc Chagall’s 1981 Peintre au chevalet, amoureux dans le ciel, in gouache and tempera on board, fetched ¥17 million, or $148,500 (estimate: ¥12/18 million). Prices do not include the buyer’s premium.