Month

Kickstart the New Year With 5 Fascinating Artists From the Midnight Publishing Group Gallery Network to Check Out This Month


Every month, we at the Midnight Publishing Group Gallery Network comb through our expansive platform and select five artists that catch our eye, and we think are ones to watch. With the New Year upon us, and more amazing art around now than ever before, this month’s group of artists is particularly exciting. All currently have solo shows on view, from Naples to New York, and employ everything from avant-garde digital technology to vintage and historic styles and motifs in their practice.

These five artists are sure to impress as well as inspire you to explore the thousands of art and artists to be found through Midnight Publishing Group’s Gallery Network.

Leunora Salihu at Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin

Leunora Salihu, Turm (2022). Courtesy of Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin.

Leunora Salihu, Turm (2022). Courtesy of Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin.

Originally from Kosovo, Leunora Salihu’s (b. 1977) sculptural work uses diverse combinations of materials, including metal, wood, and ceramic. Drawing inspiration from industrial and architectural design, as well as from organic forms, Salihu has developed her own distinct compositional lexicon that can be recognized by the apparent functionality of her pieces. Her current solo exhibition at Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, focuses on recent work that expands the boundaries of her investigations into form and space. Turm (2022), for example, resembles a massive speaker tower but is actually comprised largely of glazed ceramic. The exhibition also features Salihu’s works on paper, which illustrate the experimental, design-oriented nature of her practice.

Tursic & Mille at Alfonso Artiaco, Naples

Tursic & Mille, Le déséspoir du peintre (Saxifrage des ombrages) (2022). Courtesy of Alfonso Artiaco, Naples.

Tursic & Mille, Le déséspoir du peintre (Saxifrage des ombrages) (2022). Courtesy of Alfonso Artiaco, Naples.

The artist duo Tursic & Mille, comprised of Ida Tursic (b. 1974) and Wilfried Mille (b. 1974), began their artistic partnership in the early 2000s, engaging purposefully with painting in a period when the medium’s popularity was waning. Originally from Serbia and France respectively, the artists draw inspiration from both historic and contemporary visual media, from Old Masters to 20th-century pop culture. Their current show, “Tursic & Mille: Disastri,” on view at Alfonso Artiaco, Naples, centers on the idea of catastrophe theory in mathematics, which refers to the phenomenon where a minor change to the input of an equation causes a major change in the solution. Using humor, satire, and fanciful juxtapositions in their work, the exhibition invites viewers to immerse themselves in the unique and sometimes uncanny artistic worlds the duo creates.

Lori Grinker at Clamp, New York

Lori Grinker, Untitled (Mike Tyson on the balcony...) (1986). Courtesy of Clamp, New York.

Lori Grinker, Untitled (Mike Tyson on the balcony…) (1986). Courtesy of Clamp, New York.

Hailing from Freeport, New York, Lori Grinker (b. 1957) became interested in photography as a teenager and went on to study photography at the Parsons School of Design, where she was tutored by professors such as Lisette Model and Bernice Abbot. While enrolled, Grinker had the opportunity to photograph young boxers, including the then 13-year-old Mike Tyson, and her images were published in Inside Sports magazine. Grinker’s solo exhibition of photographs “Mike Tyson,” shown by Clamp gallery in New York, corresponds with the publication of the monograph of the same name by Powerhouse Books. The exhibition and book trace Grinker’s ongoing photographic relationship with Tyson, from those early images of the fighter as a child in the early 1980s to ones showing him traveling the world as he became a global household name.

Carolyn Oberst at Stellarhighway, New York

Carolyn Oberst, Still Life with Japanese Screen (1996). Courtesy of Stellarhighway, New York.

Carolyn Oberst, Still Life with Japanese Screen (1996). Courtesy of Stellarhighway, New York.

Currently based in New York City, Carolyn Oberst’s interdisciplinary practice spans painting, drawing, wood relief, video animation, and more. She takes as a starting point the immensely personal yet widely relatable environment around her as well as themes of intuition, dreams, and memory. Presented by Stellarhighway in New York, Obserst’s solo exhibition “Where Parting Is No More” features a selection of works from a series made between 1989 and 1998 that involve vintage framed mirrors from old dressers. Refurbishing these dresser-back frames and replacing the mirrors with canvas, the object/paintings become a conduit for Oberst’s internal world, which is conveyed through her vibrant, imaginative painting.

Holger Bär at Galerie Deschler, Berlin

Holger Bär, Central Park (2022). Courtesy of Galerie Deschler, Berlin.

Holger Bär, Central Park (2022). Courtesy of Galerie Deschler, Berlin.

German artist Holger Bär (b. 1962) has a practice that is decidedly contemporary but with a pervasive air of the historic. Frequently using imagery and compositions associated with the Impressionists, Bär’s work evokes the pointillist style of Georges Seurat. But this is achieved through the use of modern computers and technology, namely self-developed algorithms and a photographic printer that utilizes eight (rather than the typical four) colors. The images are an analytical interpretation of the pointillist, Impressionistic style, wherein one’s eye perceives a realist composition when the work is viewed from a distance, but up close the individual points of color are distinct from one another. Bär’s current show with Galerie Deschler, Berlin, “11.500.000 Punkte,” features a range of recent works that highlight the artistic and conceptual artistic connection between the artist and Impressionism.

Explore and find more new artists to watch with Midnight Publishing Group Gallery Network.

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Which Country Had the Most Lucrative Art Market in the World Last Month? We Crunched the Numbers—and the Results Are Revealing


In a normal year, June would be the last hurrah before art-world denizens checked out for the summer. They’d activate their auto replies on the last VIP day of Art Basel before hitting the beach in the Hamptons or the Amalfi Coast (where they would probably surreptitiously answer emails anyway). 

This year, however, Basel was pushed to the fall, which means June belonged to the auction houses. Phillips held its marquee contemporary art evening event in New York (historically, a May affair) and another in Hong Kong, while Sotheby’s and Christie’s hosted their Modern and contemporary art summer sales in London as usual. Over in Beijing, Poly Auctions held a series of lucrative sales of Chinese ink painting, porcelain, and 20th century Chinese art. 

Overall, the fine-art auction market fared better last month than it did in June 2019, with total sales up around 25 percent. 

Even more revealing, however, is that amid all this activity, it’s clear the sands of market power are shifting. Of the top five largest auction markets, all but one—the U.K.—saw its total sales rise in June 2021 over June 2019. This is, of course, all the more significant considering June is one of the two biggest months of the year for the U.K. market. 

What, exactly, is going on here? Read on for details. 

© Artnet Price Database and Artnet Analytics 2021.

© Midnight Publishing Group Price Database and Midnight Publishing Group Analytics 2021.

Let’s start at the beginning. How did June 2021 stack up to June 2019 (the most recent equivalent we’ve got, considering that we all agree 2020 doesn’t really count)?

Total fine-art auction sales hit $2.2 billion last month—a strong performance under any circumstance, and particularly in a pandemic summer. The sum represents a 25.3 percent increase from 2019, when total fine-art auction sales hit a respectable $1.8 billion. 

So, who do we have to thank for this astronomical spend?

Well, the simplest answer is: very rich people, who only got richer during the pandemic. The more complicated answer has to do with shifting market influence by country (and the very rich people who live there). 

China (which, for our purposes, includes Hong Kong) came out on top, delivering $860 million in total sales in June 2021, up 33 percent from the equivalent month in 2019. One of the biggest growth markets, on the other hand, was Germany, which held its annual summer auctions in June and saw its total sales grow a whopping 143.3 percent. (This was in part due to one record-setting work, a Ming-dynasty bronze that sold at an auction house in Stuttgart for €14 million/$16.5 million. And you might want to credit China for that one too, as a Chinese collector was identified as the buyer.) 

O.K., so China is fueling a lot of the growth right now. I feel like I’ve heard that before. But wasn’t June supposed to be a big month for London?

It sure was! That’s why it is so surprising that the U.K. saw its total sales fall by 15 percent from June 2019. Even more surprising, the biggest two sales of the month were Christie’s 20th/21st century evening sale and Sotheby’s modern and contemporary art evening sale in London. 

So why did the U.K.’s total sales fall? 

It’s a tale of consolidation and condensation. In June 2019, London hosted five evening sales (Christie’s and Sotheby’s had two each, one for Impressionist and Modern art and one for postwar and contemporary; Phillips had one). Last month, there were just two nights of evening auctions. The Big Two houses have also reduced the scale of their offerings: Sotheby’s squished a Modern British art sale and a Modern and contemporary sale into the same night, while Christie’s did away with the distinction between Imp-Mod and contemporary entirely, hosting a single sale for its new, fused 20th/21st century art department. (Phillips, meanwhile, shook up its calendar, moving its London contemporary art evening sale back to April.) 

Is this just an issue of calendar quirks, or is something really changing here?

This does demonstrate a significant shift. London’s June sales are becoming a more modest market moment, while auction houses are opting to save their (shrinking) supply of high-wattage Impressionist and Modern works for New York. Meanwhile, hot, young contemporary art is increasingly in highest demand in Asia, so houses are hoarding material for Hong Kong sales as well as the seemingly constant churn of online offerings that cater to an international audience. 

Why should I care where auctioneers bother to sell things, anyway? Isn’t the whole market international?

While it’s true that these days, a buyer from Hong Kong can bid as easily in a sale held in Stuttgart as in Shanghai, the relative size of countries’ markets still matters. They can determine where auction houses hire, where they spend energy (and money) cultivating new collectors, and, later on, where galleries and other art-industry players follow. There’s no need to give up on London’s rich and vibrant art scene yet—but it’s clear that the most frenetic commercial energy is congregating elsewhere right now. 

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Decorative Art Sales Accounted for a Whopping $825 Million at Auction Last Month. What’s Driving the Boom?


By now, you’ve probably heard enough about how the marquee fine-art sales last month stacked up to pre-pandemic totals. But you may not be aware that there’s an even faster growing segment of the auction market: decorative art and design. 

Decorative art sales generated a total of $825 million at auction last month, up roughly 26 percent from the equivalent total in May 2019. (For comparison, fine-art sales shrunk 1.8 percent over the same two-year period.)

Sotheby’s May design sales in New York and Paris both eclipsed their high estimates, and now Christie’s is doubling down, launching a joint pop-up in the Hamptons with tony design dealer Carpenters Workshop Gallery. And just yesterday, a Phillips design sale in London generated $16.2 million, the highest total for a design auction in company history. 

Maybe there really was something to all that talk about wealthy people paying more attention to their homes after being stuck inside for over a year… . Read on for more about what exactly is driving the trend. 

© Artnet Price Database and Artnet Analytics 2021.

© Midnight Publishing Group Price Database and Midnight Publishing Group Analytics 2021.

So what’s going on in the decorative arts market?

First, let’s clarify what we mean by “decorative arts.” The category is an umbrella term for a number of related but distinct markets, including fine jewelry, watches, design, ceramics, handbags, books and manuscripts, and even snuff boxes. 

Snuff boxes! OK, got it. Why should I care about what’s going on in this umbrella market?

The decorative art auction market is historically much smaller than the fine art auction market. In 2019—the last year things were remotely normal (remember that?)—the former was worth $4.9 billion, according to the Midnight Publishing Group Price Database. By comparison, the fine art market generated $13.2 billion that same year. So here’s why you should care: the decorative art market is ballooning at a rapid pace

How fast are we talking? 

To put things into context, the decorative art market had been stalling for years. The $4.9 billion total in 2019 was up slightly from the year before, but still behind the highs reached in 2014 and 2015. Things started to turn around as the world emerged from lockdown, however—and now, the sector is on track for a banner year.

In the first five months of 2021, decorative art auction sales generated a combined $1.8 billion, 27 percent more than in the equivalent period in 2019. In May 2020, the biggest month of the year to date for decorative art sales, the average price of a lot in the sector sold jumped 49 percent from May 2019. 

Wow! What’s driving this growth?

Sales in every price bracket have risen so far this year compared to the equivalent period in 2019, but—like in the art market—growth is particularly concentrated at the top.

Sales of objects priced at over $10 million grew a gargantuan 122 percent in the first five months of this year, largely due to major sales of jewelry. In May, a pink diamond ring known as the Sakura diamond sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for $28.7 million

So there are more rich people willing to shell out for diamonds? 

In a way, yes, it is that simple. The pandemic has further concentrated wealth at the very top, with ever-wealthier people who would otherwise have spent money on luxurious vacations funneling that extra cash into jewelry and design objects. (Demand for diamonds more broadly has also swelled: Signet Jewelers Ltd., for example, reported a 7.8 percent jump in holiday sales in North America, per Bloomberg.)

Is this some kind of honeymoon period with decorative art?

It’s too soon to say. The trajectory is continuing upward, though spending habits may change as more and more people return to their regular rhythms. Diamonds are forever, but diamond auction-sale bonanzas may not be.

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Don’t Miss These 5 Landmark Works of Canadian Postwar Art Hitting the Auction Block This Month


Candian art history has a unique heritage shaped by thousands of years of artistic creation, early on by the First Nations Peoples, through the development of the Group of Seven—the landscape painters in the 1920s and ‘30s who pioneered a distinctly Canadian Modernism—and later through the embrace of international art movements in the 1960s.

Founded in 2017, Montreal auction house BYDealers wants to share this artistic heritage with a global audience. Having established unique partnerships with significant art dealers throughout the country, BYDealers has centered itself within a singular nexus of expertise—bringing with it a number of sought-after artworks by Canada’s most famous artists.

Many of those works are now being offered in BYDealers’s “Historical and Post-War Canadian Art Online Auction” (May 8–30). The sale’s 68 lots span from the nation’s early Modern art movements up to creations of the recent past—with a particular emphasis on works from the 1960s and ’70s.

Below, we picked out five that you won’t want to miss.

 

Paul-Émile Borduas
Modulation Aux Points Noirs (1955)
Estimate: $400,000–600,000

Paul-Émile Borduas, Modulation Aux Points Noirs (1955). Courtesy of BYDealers.

Paul-Émile Borduas, Modulation Aux Points Noirs (1955). Courtesy of BYDealers.

In September 1955, Québecois artist Paul-Émile Borduas set out from New York for Paris with his daughter Janine. This transatlantic journey inspired the artist’s “simplifying leap,” an idea that would permeate his abstract painting throughout 1956, one of the most prized periods of his career. Modulation Aux Points Noirs (1955) comes from the very first paintings the artist made after arriving in Paris. Here, thick spatula smacks of white impasto are smeared in places to reveal hints of color, while dashes of black—which is emblematic of the series—energetically intersperse the cool-toned surface. 

 

Jean Paul Lemieux
Nu Sur Fond Bleu (1963)
Estimate: $325,200–425,000

Jean Paul Lemieux, Nu Sur Fond Bleu (1963). Courtesy of BYDealers.

Jean Paul Lemieux, Nu Sur Fond Bleu (1963). Courtesy of BYDealers.

Jean Paul Lemieux is regarded as one of the most important Canadian artists of the 20th century, known for his almost folkloric figures set against the backdrop of Canada’s vast landscapes. Nu Sur Fond Bleu (1963) possesses a quiet majesty characteristic of the artist’s best works: the profile figure of a young woman dissolves against a serene blue background with the ethereal impermanence of a dream.

 

Jean Paul Riopelle
Sans Titre / Untitled (1958)
Estimate: $175,000–225,000

Jean Paul Riopelle, Untitled (1958). Courtesy of BYDealers.

Jean Paul Riopelle, Untitled (1958). Courtesy of BYDealers.

Jean Paul Riopelle had an impassioned and almost sculptural approach to paintings—filled with ravines and peaks of paint—that capture the rigor and decisiveness of his technique. This untitled work from 1958 is a prime example. Marked by rigorous smears of colors, Untitled (1958) captures the creative turn Riopelle took in the second half of the 1950s as his mosaic works of 1953 and 1954 gave way to a fierce gesturality.

 

Claude Tousignant
Double 30 (Azo-Cobalt) (1975)
Estimate: $12,000–15,000

Claude Tousignant, Double 30 (Azo-Cobalt) (1975). Courtesy of BYDealers.

Claude Tousignant, Double 30 (Azo-Cobalt) (1975). Courtesy of BYDealers.

With Double 30 (Azo-cobalt) (1975), Montreal artist Claude Tousignant created one of the defining motifs of his career: the circular diptych. This seminal work belongs to a series of tondos and shaped canvases that first earned Tousignant international acclaim. Here, four concentric circles form a reverberating optical illusion, in which, as Tousignant put it, “the confrontation of these pairs of colors—which by their juxtaposition produced, so to speak, a third color.”

Jean Albert Mcewen
Midi, Temps Jaune (1960)
Estimate: $80,000–100,000

Jean Albert Mcewen, Midi, Temps Jaune (1960). Courtesy of BYDealers Auction House.

Jean Albert McEwen, Midi, Temps Jaune (1960). Courtesy of BYDealers Auction House.

Here, oranges, saffrons, and lemon yellows are layered in gauzy, semi-transparent layers that hint at the drowsy summer light and fragrant blossoms of June, while hints of purple emerge here and there. This painting captures the best of McEwen’s colorist approach to the canvas and marks a special year in the artist’s career. The sister painting to Midi, Temps Jaune—Les Amours Jaunes (1960)—was the opening work in McEwen’s Montreal Museum of Fine Arts retrospective in 1988. 

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Robert Colescott’s Caustic Satire of ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware’ Is Poised to Reset the Artist’s Market at Sotheby’s Next Month


The late American painter Robert Colescott’s charged satire of Washington Crossing the Delaware will hit the auction block next month—and it is poised to smash the late artist’s current auction record. 

George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, as the artist’s landmark 1975 canvas is called, is set to highlight Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction in New York on May 12. It’s estimated to go for $9 million to $12 million—that’s roughly 10 times Colescott’s current auction record of $912,500, set in 2018.

The Washington painting carries a financial guarantee, according to the auction house, making it certain to sell. Colescott’s profile has been on a steady incline in recent years, spurred in part by support from artist Kerry James Marshall, who has been vocal about Colescott’s influence on his work. Blum & Poe also began representing the artist’s estate in 2017. His public auction prices, however, do not currently reflect his stature. 

Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware, a staple of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection since 1897 (not to mention scores of American history texts) is the overt reference behind Colescott’s 20th-century masterwork. But where the former artist lionizes the general in a macho wartime scene, Colescott’s take is much more caustic: Washington and his men are replaced by inventor agricultural scientist Washington Carver and a boat full of cartoonish Black caricatures—a banjo player, a barefoot fisherman, and a mammy figure performing fellatio on the flag bearer. 

“With its social and political resonance and sheer pictorial force, today Colescott’s painting greatly rivals the iconic quality of its source image, offering a critical reckoning with the history of American art,” David Galperin, head of Sotheby’s New York contemporary evening auctions, said in a statement.

According to the auction house, the painting has remained in the same Midwestern collection since 1976, when it was purchased from John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco. Sotheby’s declined to share additional information about the identity of the consignor, but the Art Newspaper reports that it belonged to the late Robert and Lois Orchard of St. Louis, Missouri.

George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware was included in the critically acclaimed retrospective of Colescott’s work that opened at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati in 2019 before traveling to the Portland Art Museum. The exhibition, curated by Lowery Stokes Sims and Raphaela Platow, will wrap up its tour this summer at the Sarasota Art Museum. 

Meanwhile, Colescott’s painting is on public view now through April 21 at the auction house’s Hong Kong branch. After that run, it will head to Sotheby’s New York for a May 1 through 12 exhibition leading up to the sale.

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