Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Market's Bidding

This week, John Keats of Menzies Art Brands let me know that three more enamel paintings of mine – a large work from my now hard-to-find Lake Eyre On Acid series and two smaller Sports Babes, Resized For Easy Consumption – have been submitted for Menzies' major auction of Australian art scheduled for 25th March, in Sydney.
I don't know whether to be pleased or to puke with anxiety. In the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s even the rich are shedding assets – starting with their art collections – and the news from major auction houses around the world, including Sotheby's and the venerable Christie's in London, where my work sold very well in December, has been less than encouraging. Only a tiny percentage of contemporary works by young (well, thirty-something) artists are finding buyers while well-known works by older 'stars', including Hirst, Emin, and Banksy, have been passed in without any bids.
I'm aware that many collectors and auctioneers regard my paintings as being sensibly priced. They rose steadily in value (around 1,000 per cent on what was paid for early works a decade ago) but didn't sky-rocket during the hyper-inflationary final years of the so-called 'art bubble'. Moreover, I was careful not to allow dealers or collectors to 'ramp' auction prices. Now my work represents, as one art consultant put it, "a combination of artistic credibility and solid potential for investment growth".
This doesn't ease my nerves. I feel the same way I did when I hung my first-ever show – edgy, unsure, wondering, "What if they don't like it?"


Paul Martin said...

Hazel, I work for a resources company and the division I work in has had the world sales price of the main commodity slashed by around 75% from its recent high. It doesn't concern us and it's not how our performance is measured. Our metrics are all high, namely level of production and reduction of costs. The world price is external and outside of our control.

Similarly, all you can do is continue doing what you do best. The sales price is up to the market. Just do your bit as best you can and don't be attached to the outcome.

Anonymous said...

I think Hazel will do well again as in this current climate people who cannot any longer afford sky high prices, will be looking at currently more affordable but reputable and investable artists for future blue sky values.

I think Hazel's work sits in that category comfortably and collectors/investors of her works in 2009 will be well rewarded when the market recovers in a year, two or however long it takes.

As in previous auctions I think Ms Dooney can look forward to being very pleased at what her work will achieve in the March auction. Although as before I would think she will not gain a dollar from the sale price but her auction reputation and market value will be enhanced.


Anonymous said...

Article from the age:
Art pays price of tough times
Zelda Cawthorne

February 23, 2009 12:00am
MELBOURNE'S oldest art auction house, Leonard Joel, says people feeling the pinch of the economic slowdown are resorting to selling art and antiques to offset their falling share portfolios.

Leonard Joel chief executive Warren Joel told the Herald Sun it had become a buyers' market with mid-tier art dominating auctions.

"Times are tough. We're seeing liquidations; people are going to the wall," Mr Joel said.

"With the value of assets like shares, property and superannuation taking a battering, people are looking at their private possessions - paintings, vintage furniture, their late grandma's art deco jewellery - and thinking: how much could I get for this?"

About 35 per cent of Joel's business is fine art.

The rest, auctioned weekly and at special sales, is a mix of antiques, jewellery, various collectables and an eclectic array of household effects.

Mr Joel said sale prices for superior art was "dispiriting" and nowhere near the sky-high figures during the boom times.

Despite falling auction commissions, Leonard Joel is sending its support to Victoria's bushfire appeal by dropping all selling charges for clients who wish to donate the proceeds from the sale of their goods.

It will also match sale prices on items up to $25,000, until March 31.

Mr Joel's family came close to losing its possessions at its Taggerty farm when fire came within 2m of the property.