The Week in Prints 10th - 16th June 2024

Erin-Atlanta Argun
written by Erin-Atlanta Argun,
Date of publication14 Jun 2024
Last updated20 Jun 2024
News From the Prints & Editions Market and Art World
A screenprint by Harland Miller depicting an orange Penguin book cover with the title: “DON'T LET THE BASTARDS CHEER YOU UP”.Don't Let The Bastards Cheer You Up © Harland Miller 2009
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Commissioning Editor Erin-Atlanta Argun dissects a week marked by market uncertainty, driven by discourse surrounding Art Basel; the unfurling repercussions of a major cybersecurity breach at Christie’s; disappointing auction results at Bonhams; and notable artist updates from Yayoi Kusama and Andy Warhol. Amidst these challenges, the art world continues to demonstrate resilience and adaptability.

1.

Keeping Up Appearances at Art Basel?

The art world's favourite fair, Art Basel, commenced this week: uniting the world's most avid dealers and collectors. Historically, this fair is where the most significant deals are secured, setting the tone for the market at large. Despite fears of a quiet fair and what Iwan Wirth coined “doom porn,” the fair has been reportedly vibrant as ever, demonstrating little sign of the struggles being experienced elsewhere in the wider market.

However, it is impossible to deny that a correction has occurred in the art market since the pandemic boom period. Global socio-political uncertainty, wars, widespread economic instability, and climbing inflations rates are affecting all markets, including art. Despite these factors, Art Basel has remained a hub of activity, suggesting a degree of resilience. This continued engagement indicates that while the market is adjusting, it is not contracting. The reality is that the art market has always been - and will always be - fickle, yet activity at Basel suggests a robust resilience.

The market, often entrenched in backward traditions, from the auction house model to the unsustainable circus of art fairs, frequently revolves around appearances. However, as dealers at Basel have acknowledged, we are entering an era where collectors increasingly demand good deals and transparency above all else. This shift signifies a move towards a more sustainable and transparent art market, reflecting broader changes in collector behaviour and market dynamics.

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2.

Christie's Cyber Attack Affects Half a Million Clients' Personal Data

Following a cyber attack which struck Christie's last month, the auction house are now facing a class action lawsuit which is revealing the severity and scale of the attack. Plaintiff Efstathios Marroudis alleges that Christie's was “negligent” with their clients' data, allowing it to be stolen by cybercriminals RansomHub. Reportedly, some 500,000 clients' full names, genders, passport numbers, expiration dates, birthplaces, MRZs, countries, and document numbers are in jeopardy.

The class action lawsuit highlights Chrisite's poor handling of the situation and failure to inform their clients of the severity of the attack. As such, the incident could lead to more lawsuits like this; posing a significant threat to Christie's reputation and client trust. Whether or not this is financially damaging to the auction house, the attack serves as a wake-up call for auction houses worldwide to prioritise cybersecurity and safeguard digital client data adequately.

3.

Bonhams Prints & Multiple Sale Falls 41% Below Presale Estimate

Bonhams experienced a disappointing performance in their prints and multiples sale, with a total hammer price of £457,000, falling 41% below the low presale estimate. Only 9% of works (8 lots) reached above high estimates, while 47% of lots either sold below estimate or went unsold altogether.

The few works that achieved above high estimates were by renowned blue-chip artists such as Rembrandt, Escher, and Chagall, indicating that bidders are currently favouring the best of blue chip. The low sell-through rate and significant number of unsold lots reflect a cautious market sentiment, highlighting collectors' hesitance amidst the current economic climate. This performance underscores the challenges auction houses face in maintaining strong sales figures during periods of market uncertainty.

4.

Yayoi Kusama Takes Over London With New Installations & Exhibition

Yayoi Kusama is set to make a significant impact in London this summer. Serpentine Galleries and The Royal Parks will unveil Kusama's “tallest bronze sculpture” to date in Kensington Gardens. Additionally, Infinite Accumulation, a public installation, will be set up at Liverpool Station from July onwards.

In the autumn, Victoria Miro will open a new Infinity Room, and a new series of paintings titled Every Day I Pray For Love will be shown alongside. Kusama’s ongoing projects continue to captivate audiences, cementing her status as a leading contemporary artist with a unique and compelling vision.

5.

“Andy Warhol By Hand” Online Auction Reveals The Artist's Pre-Pop Works

An Artnet online auction titled “Andy Warhol By Hand” features Warhol's pre-Pop 1950s work from his days as a fashion illustrator. This collection offers a rare glimpse into the early career of an artist who would go on to revolutionise the art world.

The auction includes various hand-drawn illustrations that showcase Warhol's talent and versatility before his iconic pop art era. These works provide invaluable insights into Warhol’s artistic development and offer collectors a unique opportunity to acquire pieces from a pivotal period in his career.

As the art world navigates a landscape marked by uncertainty and change, it remains resilient and adaptive. From the bustling scenes at Art Basel to the significant updates from contemporary artists, this week has shown that the market continues to evolve in response to global challenges. Stay tuned for more insights and updates from the prints and editions market next week.

Joe Syer

Joe Syer, Co-Founder & Specialist[email protected]

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