Thursday, December 16, 2010

Records Are Made To Be Broken

Anyone reading the ArtDaily Newsletter on a semi-regular basis can't help but notice one of the repeating themes of this year: record sales in the art market. Today's edition includes a story about the "new auction record for a work by Sir Stanley Spencer" which went for more than two million dollars when it was expected to bring about one-third of that. The works of other British artists also went at some hefty prices as well.

This follows on the heels of an Asian art sale that brought $390 million at a Sotheby's Hong Kong sale earlier this month. Earlier in 2010 an Alberto Giacometti sculpture brought in over $100 million, eclipsing the previous record high price paid for a piece of art, a painting by Picasso.

In November a Modigliani fetched a record price in the millions and in October a sale of art from the Islamic world broke records as well, ringing up $40 million in sales.

Christie's Auction House has likewise seen its share of record setting events as the wallets and bank accounts of contemporary collectors have begun opening up again. In June both Christie's and Sotheby's experienced record setting sales for sales of Impressionist and Modern art. A Manet self-portrait went for $22 million.

Even a rare book fetched its millions, Audubon's Birds of America.

It must be exhilarating, both for buyers and sellers. But what does it mean? Is this a harbinger that things are looking up for the economy? Are there any implications in all this art news for artists here in the Midwest? Does a rising tide lift all boats?

I am sure that these kinds of stories didn't do much to warm the hearts of the homeless in their icy camps around Duluth as temperatures sank to minus twenty here. You can't even take an eNewsletter and make a fire with it.

But it's interesting to see how the other half lives. Isn't that why people read the tabloids and watch shows like Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous?

There's got to be a practical part in all of this, beyond its entertainment value. Maybe there will be more jobs in the art restoration field in the next few years. Or maybe...

Blue Van Gogh, an original painting by Ed Newman. Limited edition giclee reproductions available for significantly less than a million dollars.

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