A Seller's Guide To Louise Bourgeois

Sheena Carrington
written by Sheena Carrington,
Date of publication28 Apr 2023
Last updated4 Jun 2024
The Fragile 6 by Louise Bourgeois - MyArtBroker The Fragile 6 © Louise Bourgeois
Leah Mentzis

Leah Mentzis, Partnerships Manager[email protected]

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Louise Bourgeois?

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Renowned French-American artist Louise Bourgeois is celebrated for her pioneering contributions to 20th-century art, notably her psychologically informed feminist perspective evident in sculpture, painting, and printmaking. Her introspective approach fuels a creative process that has fetched record-breaking prices, reflecting a robust market and increasing interest in various sectors of her work. This seller's guide offers essential insights for navigating Bourgeois' print market, encompassing key components and crucial information for collectors and investors.

How Much Do Louise Bourgeois Prints Sell For?

Bourgeois enjoyed a prominent career spanning eight decades, from the 1930s to 2010, renowned for her large-scale arachnid sculptures and conceptual totem and textile works. In 2022, a significant retrospective at Hayward Gallery, highlighted her diverse oeuvre, focusing on textiles and fabric, showcasing her innovative use of mediums beyond arachnids. Across mediums like spiders, metals, and textiles, Bourgeois explores a central theme of the body as a protective entity, whether human or arachnid, symbolising a womb or shelter. Her prints range from several hundred British pounds to £300,000+, with works like The Olive Branch (2004) and Untitled No.5 (1990) revealing her fascination with nature and form. Notably, He Disappeared Into Complete Silence, the complete album of nine engravings, set a record auction price of £367,960 in April 2018 at Christie's, indicating a growing momentum in Bourgeois' print market, offering a compelling entry point for collectors.

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How Do You Authenticate a Louise Bourgeois Print?

Authenticating a print is vital for sellers to instil confidence in potential buyers and maximise its market value. While the authentication process is just one of the many meticulous steps necessary for successful transactions of selling prints. Fortunately, for acclaimed artists like Bourgeois, a comprehensive paper trail typically exists. This trail often includes records from the artist's foundation, affiliated dealers or notable exhibitions. Although there isn't a comprehensive catalogue raisonné at present, an online digital archive of her artworks is readily accessible. By tracing this lineage, sellers can validate the print's authenticity, thereby facilitating smoother transactions and fostering trust between buyers and sellers.

The Easton Foundation

Throughout her career, Bourgeois demonstrated a strong commitment to preserving her artistic legacy, culminating in the establishment of The Easton Foundation during the 1980s, a non-profit organisation. Originally acquired by Bourgeois and her husband, Robert Goldwater, in the 1960s, their townhouse and an adjacent property later became the Foundation's headquarters following Bourgeois' passing. While not directly involved in authentication, the Foundation, under the guidance of long-time assistant, and friend to Bourgeois, Jerry Gorovoy, collaborates with institutions like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and offers invaluable digital resources. One such resource is The Complete Prints & Books of Louise Bourgeois, a comprehensive online publication showcasing her entire print collection, categorised thematically including photographs with essential details of edition numbers and signature, serving as an indispensable tool for validating the authenticity of Bourgeois' prints when navigating the art market.

“Whether it was her accent or her Europeanness or her personality, people were in a trance, you couldn’t stop listening to her. It was magnetic.”
Howard Read, Art Dealer

Dealers and Exhibitions

Bourgeois was renowned for her magnetic personality and maintained close relationships with her dealers and collectors, including Robert Miller Gallery, Karsten Greve, and Cheim & Read, the latter of which continues to oversee her estate in the US. Hauser & Wirth became her principal gallery in 1997, along with Kukje Gallery in South Korea and Xavier Hufkens in Brussels, expanding her international presence. Works, including prints, often trace their provenance back to these locations or dealers enhancing the value and legitimising the authenticity of your Bourgeois work.

Bourgeois also boasted an esteemed international exhibition history, highlighted by a major retrospective at New York's MoMA in 1982 and the recent Artist Rooms Louise Bourgeois exhibition at Dorset Museum in Spring 2023, which showcased works from the last two decades of her life. Such prestigious exhibition ties can also significantly enhance the value and legitimacy of the artwork you're selling.

Has Your Louise Bourgeois Print Been Kept In Good Condition?

When considering the sale of artwork, potential buyers invariably inquire about its condition—a critical factor influencing its value. Preserving art prints demands meticulous care, shielding them from environmental hazards like sunlight and humidity. Proper framing is essential, avoiding methods like taping or mounting prints directly onto the frame to prevent damage upon removal.

Bourgeois extensively engaged in printmaking throughout her career, spanning from the late 1930s to the new millennium. Older prints may naturally display more wear and tear, but even newer ones can suffer damage if not well maintained. If your Bourgeois print exhibits any signs of damage, it's crucial to seek restoration services from professional conservators for optimal results. MyArtBroker provides access to these experts, offering assessments and connections without any obligations. Don't hesitate to reach out to us for expert guidance on enhancing the liquidity of your Bourgeois print.

When Is the Best Time to Sell My Louise Bourgeois Print?

Market Demand

Understanding the optimal timing to sell your artwork hinges on market demand. In 2023, Bourgeois' market turnover reached £34 million, predominantly driven by her sculptures. While Bourgeois experimented with various sculptural forms, her spider sculptures remain the most sought-after, commanding millions at auctions and garnering attention at art fairs. Yet, collectors also value her print works, which offer a distinct portrayal of post-war feminine art at more affordable price points. Pieces like The Fragile 32 provide an accessible alternative to towering spider sculptures, embodying Bourgeois' nurturing symbolism. Similarly, prints such as Untitled No. 12 and Untitled No. 11 reflect themes from her Personages series, contributing to her diverse market appeal.

Understanding the highest prices achieved for Bourgeois' varied sculptural oeuvre and the feminist motifs imbued within her art can provide insights into market demand. This knowledge aids in determining the opportune moment to sell her artwork, optimising the selling process.

Explore Louise Bourgeois Value: Top Prices Paid At Auction

Where Can I Sell My Louise Bourgeois Print?

Selling A Louise Bourgeois Via Auction House

There are various avenues available for selling your Bourgeois print, with one of the most prominent being through auction houses. Auctions can create a theatrical atmosphere, potentially boosting demand and increasing the artwork's market value. However, consigning with auction houses comes with drawbacks such as high seller's fees, typically up to 25%, and reliance on a sales schedule, which may delay the liquidity release. Additionally, there's a risk of unsold works affecting their value negatively. When considering auction houses, assess their expertise in post war and contemporary art and the Bourgeois market, their reputation, and their sales history of similar artworks. Following selection, your piece will undergo authentication and receive a pre-sale estimate. For more information on selling through auctions, consult our Auction v Private Sale guide.

Selling A Louise Bourgeois Via a Broker

For sellers seeking a more confidential and tailored approach to selling Bourgeois prints, engaging a reputable broker is a viable option. Upon requesting a valuation, the broker will engage with you to understand your objectives and establish pricing. Subsequently, they'll embark on marketing your prints and attracting international buyers. Once a suitable offer arises, the broker manages the transaction seamlessly, sparing you any hassle.

Utilising a broker offers several advantages, including enhanced privacy, especially in volatile market conditions, personalised sales strategies, and the potential for achieving higher sale prices.

Selling A Louise Bourgeois Via Online Marketplace

In the burgeoning digital landscape, online marketplaces offer sellers convenient access to a global audience. Platforms like MyArtBroker facilitate connections with potential buyers worldwide. Similarly, platforms such as Artsy and ArtNet provide avenues for sellers to exhibit their artworks and engage directly with interested buyers. However, navigating these platforms introduces the nuances of what's termed as a primary marketplace. Opting for the right online platform with dedicated sales specialists can ensure a comprehensive grasp of fair market value in a fickle marketplace, maximising returns on your print.

MyArtBroker's online platform boasts a dynamic live trading floor and a comprehensive MyPortfolio collection management feature. This includes cutting-edge Art Tech tools like the AI-Value indicator, which utilises our bespoke algorithm to assess the real-time value of Bourgeois prints based on auction and private sales data. These invaluable resources empower collectors, whether seasoned or new to the market, to navigate market fluctuations effectively and gain a precise understanding of fair market value in today's rapidly evolving art landscape.

Read Case Study: How To Value Prints & Editions With Art Tech to learn more about our technology.

Browse Louise Bourgeois prints on the Trading Floor and find out more about the print market growth on the MAB100 Print Index.

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Why Sell Your Louise Bourgeois With MyArtBroker?

A DEDICATED BROKER

MyArtBroker offers a distinctive service connecting clients with their dedicated personal broker, ensuring a secure transaction through our online digital platform. Our specialists excel at sourcing direct buyers for consigned prints via our live trading floor, where users within our extensive network can express interest in specific prints and multiples by particular artists, whether they intend to sell, buy, or simply desire a specific print. Our team is approachable, passionate, and consistently provides updates on the art market and artists. We guide sellers through a seamless transaction process, establishing a fair market valuation based on realistic sale prices and offering free advice on the optimal timing for selling, leveraging our extensive knowledge of the art market.

Meet our team of specialist brokers.

MINIMISE RISK

At MyArtBroker, we prioritise transparency and security in every art sale. Our stringent due diligence process ensures the authentication and verification of artwork provenance, drawing upon our in-house expertise and collaborating with professional external contacts when needed. This approach effectively mitigates the risk of trading counterfeit or stolen art pieces. Additionally, we minimise the risks associated with public sales. While public auctions may seem appealing, unsold prints can harm an artist's market. Private sales eliminate this risk and enable quicker liquidity release for your artwork compared to adhering to strict auction schedules dictating when your work can be offered for sale.

0% SELLER’S FEES, 100% OF THE TIME

Our team of specialists offers tailored services to procure rare and special edition prints, catering to both seasoned collectors and newcomers to the market. As part of our standard practice, we provide complimentary valuations and charge zero seller's fees, setting us apart from other private brokers and traditional auction houses. By minimising overhead costs, we allocate resources towards digital innovation and targeted marketing strategies within our network and house magazine.

When it comes to selling artwork, achieving the best price hinges on accessing a niche market with an established collector community. If you're looking to sell a print, turning to a specialist in the print market, like MyArtBroker, yields superior results compared to approaching an auction house, which caters to broader categories of artwork.

OUR NETWORK

Through our live trading floor, we empower our network of collectors, fundamentally reshaping the art investment and trading landscape in the digital era. Offering real-time market data and insights gleaned from worldwide collectors, we establish value based on convenience, accessibility, and the exceptional level of transparency and security provided to over tens of thousands of users.

Explore our Art+Tech Report to discover everything we've built.

Louise Bourgeois Collection Management with MyPortfolio

In addition to our live trading floor, MyArtBroker's MyPortfolio serves as a collection management system, empowering collectors to curate and oversee their prints and editions collection, while tracking its value in real-time. This feature grants users access to our print market database, uniquely tied to our proprietary algorithm, SingularityX. This algorithm scans and analyses both public auction and private sales data to determine real-time valuations of individual print works, factoring in various aspects such as condition, colour, and other factors affecting value.

Read What Powers MyArtBroker's Technology? In Conversation With Stuart Jameison, Financial Quant to learn more about our algorithm.

Emerging art tech tools are vital in navigating the current, and evolving, digital art market landscape. For instance, by adding Louise Bourgeois prints from our website to the MyPortfolio dashboard, users gain insight into unique sale opportunities and observe market performance and fluctuations in real time, streamlining the sales process effortlessly. Our pioneering technology has revolutionised art portfolio management, making it more accessible and equipping users with data-driven insights for informed decisions. MyArtBroker harnesses cutting-edge technology driven by data, coupled with a team of industry experts, to deliver an exceptional experience. Our professionals work closely with clients, utilising the MyPortfolio dashboard, to provide personalised guidance for creating a profitable art collection. By merging technology and expertise, we are committed to offering unparalleled curation and customer service.

Leah Mentzis

Leah Mentzis, Partnerships Manager[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling
Louise Bourgeois?

Get a valuation