“art analytics”

Wolfgang Tillmans, at the frontiers of the visible

As one exhibition concludes, another opens… While the solo show dedicated to German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans is finishing at the Tate in London, the retrospective on him at the Fondation Beyeler is starting up in the Swiss city of Basel. Perfect timing for a closer look at this artist whose experimentations have taken him far and wide… Contemporary photography – unfortunately – doesn’t always have many superstars to boast about. Even if the medium has achieved recognition in the last decade, its ecosystem still remains closed: it has its own dedicated galleries, themed auction sales, mono-medium fairs, specialised journals… In this respect, Germany’s Wolfgang Tillmans emerges as something of a phenomenon. Earning steady recognition from institutions and art critics from a very early stage in his career, he is already counted amongst the most fashionable photographers… And yet we can sense that this artist still has more tricks up his sleeve. Born in 1968 in Remscheid in West Germany (near Cologne and Düsseldorf, and therefore also near Europe-focused Belgium and the Netherlands), he discovered the photography of Polke, Richter and Rauschenberg while he was still a teenager in the museums of big neighbouring cities. After three years in Hamburg, Tillmans continued his studies at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design in South England. He then moved to London before staying in New York for one year in 1994. This is where he met gallerist Andrea Rosen, who would be the first to support him, as well as his lover, painter Jochen Klein. The two Germans would return to Europe where they lived together in the British capital until the death, in 1997, of Klein, a victim of AIDS. Tillmans was not yet 30 at the time. In 2000, the artist suddenly emerged from obscurity by becoming...

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Data: Francis Bacon

“The reek of human blood smiles out at me”, Francis Bacon once declared to Franck Maubert, adopting a few lines by Aeschylus. The painter of human anguish remains a star in contemporary art, in museums as well as in auction rooms. Francis Bacon was born to British parents in Dublin on 28 October 1909. Scraggly and sickly, he was tutored at home rather than going to school, and transited between Dublin and London. He discovered his homosexuality when he was a teenager and left the family home for London. Thus began a bohemian life for him, between Berlin and Paris, and doing odd jobs — namely as a decorative painter. He discovered expressionism in Germany, and was particularly struck by a Picasso exhibition at the Galerie Paul Rosenberg (Paris). In 1929, he returned to London, and self-taught, he produced drawings and watercolours while continuing to work as a decorative painter. As of 1931, he focused more on painting and adopted large formats. In 1933, he completed  Crucifixion, reproduced in the journal Art Now. But after a series of failures, Francis Bacon thought about giving it all up. His first solo exhibition at the Transition Gallery in 1934 was not a success and in 1936, André Breton refused his request to participate in the international surrealism exhibition. When the war broke out, he was exempted from service and withdrew to the countryside. Upon his return to London, he rented a studio in Kensington and started afresh: he destroyed his earlier works, only keeping about ten of them. In 1946, after the public outcry roused by his exhibition of Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion at the Lefevre Gallery — distasteful to a society which preferred to forget about the war horrors — he left for Monte-Carlo. Here,...

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The Rise of the Tribal Art Market

Since the millennium, the tribal art market has changed profoundly. With a stable increase in sales, despite several fluctuations over the years, the tribal art market has developed economically, culturally and influentially. Seemingly unattached to other macroeconomic trends, the market’s growing success is displayed by its progressively frequent multi-million dollar auction sales and increasing domination of the market by high-end works, according to a report released by Artkhade, Art Media Agency and Art Analytics. The figures released by this survey, using data taken between 2000 and 2015, demonstrate that, although still struggling to keep up with the dominant Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary art markets, the tribal art market is a flourishing market. In 2014, the tribal art market made its record of €92.1 million from works sold at auction. Just a year before, in 2013, the sales made €52.8 million, almost half the amount made in 2014, not forgetting the mere 13.7 million which was sold in 2001. In the same year, 14 lots achieved results well over the million-euro mark, equating to €39 million in total, impressively representing 42% of the annual total for the tribal art market. Over the last fifteen years, the release of a number of significant private collections onto the secondary market has resulted in overwhelming successes for the market. Breakthrough sales included the Frum Collection (Paris) and the Myron Kunin Collection (New York), sold by Sotheby’s in 2014 for a joint total of €45.4 million. The Pierre and Claude Vérité Collection, sold in Paris for an impressive €44 million, was equally revolutionary for the market. The average price for a work of tribal art at auction has grown from €16,645 in 2000, to €20,878 in 2001, and on to €30,000 in 2012. All the Top 50 sales in the tribal art category reached prices over a...

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