Art Basel 2015: a Tremendous Year for Abstraction
Jul 1, 2015
This year’s Art Basel, which took place in the Swiss city from 18 until 21 June 2015, featured $3.4 billion’s worth of art. “I haven’t had such a good day one at Basel in 10 years,” said New York dealer David Nolan. During its first hours, the fair witnessed multimillion-worth sales, which did nothing but grow in the following days. Here are a few highlights of the abstract art sales that were carried out.
In the first half hour of Basel’s opening day, New York’s Christophe Van de Weghe gallery sold Untitled (P577) (2009) by Christopher Wool piece. The big, swirling abstract black-and-white enamel-on-linen sold for $5.5 million. Christopher Wool is an abstract painter who is clearly still a favourite of the market. This gallery also sold a very small artwork by American sculptor Alexander Calder for $480,000. Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is known as the originator of the mobile, a type of kinetic sculpture made with delicate balances or suspended elements moving in response to motor power or wind. His stationary sculptures are called stabiles. The same gallery also sold Sean Scully’s horizontal composition painted in various shades of blue and brown for a price nearing $800,000 to an American collector.
Parisian Galerie Lelong has had three major sales, including a Sean Scully painting bought by a private collector. Sean Scully (born in Ireland in 1945) is a painter and printmaker based in the United States. His increasing awareness of the dull effect of formal abstraction led him to integrate irregular vertical panels within broad bands of contrasting shades into his work. His paintings often include architectural constructions of walls and stripes.
The gallerist Bernard Jacobson sold everything in his booth dedicated to the abstract artist Robert Motherwell, with prices ranging from $50,000 to $7 million. Motherwell (1915-1991) was an American painter and printmaker and the youngest member of the New York School. David Zwirner Gallery sold a number of artworks, including Agnes Martin’s painting Mountain II (1966), which was sold for $9.5 million to a European collector. Agnes Martin was an American abstract painter, and often considered as a minimalist, she saw herself as an abstract expressionist. Besides a few self-portraits and watercolour landscapes, her work included biomorphic paintings in soft colours. David Zwirner also sold two Jan Schoonhoven minimal wall relief works entitled R70-57 (1970) which reached $950,000 and R70-10 (1970) which went for $550,000. Jan Schoonhoven (1914-1994) was a Dutch painter who was part of the so-called Informal Group and a representative of the Nulbeweging soon after.
The Swiss art dealer Dominique Lévy sold the geometrically coloured painting Zehn Farben (1966), an enamel on canvas, asking for $5 million. Gerhard Richter is a German artist who has produced abstract as well as photorealistic paintings as well as photographs and glass pieces. The same art dealer later sold a Frank Stella composition, entitled Black Study I (1968) for a seven-figure price. New York’s Marianne Boesky gallery also sold a work by Frank Stella, reaching around $1 million.
The Luhring Augustine, based in New York, mentioned selling an Albert Oehlen painting from 2004, for a price of $675,000, as well as a 14-foot-tall sculpture with a price set at $2 million. The French Max Hetzer Gallery also offered artworks by the German painter, including six paintings, one of which was sold for €600,000.
Paris-based Galerie Perrotin sold seven paintings by the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, two of them carrying a price tag of $1.1 million each. Murakami is an internationally prolific contemporary artist who works in fine arts media, such as painting and sculpture, as well as commercial media, including fashion, merchandise and animation. His paintings unite classical Japanese techniques with Abstract expressionist influences, manga, and Buddhist and Shinto imagery.
London-based gallery Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert sold Howard Hodgin’s semi-abstraction oil on wood In the Black Kitchen (1984-90) to an Asian collector for around £450,000. The gallery Cheim & Read sold a work by Joan Mitchell to an unknown collector for $6 million. Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) was a second-generation abstract expressionist painter and printmaker and was a fundamental member of the American abstract expressionist movement. She was one of the few female artists to be internationally recognized and celebrated at that time.
Photo credit: IdeelArt