Sometimes it’s just fun to step back and see what’s selling. Lately it seems prices for Swiss-born artists are climbing.
If there is a household name in Swiss art, it must be Giacometti. Artworks by both father Giovanni Giacometti (1868-1933), who painted in a color-rich impressionistic style, and son Alberto (1901-1966), known for lanky human sculptures, have brought astoundingly high prices at auction.
Alberto Giacometti’s Walking Man I astounded the art world when it was sold for the record price of $92.5 million (67.2 million euro) by the Dresdener Bank at Sotheby’s London in February 2010.
This past June Giovanni Giacometti’s Haus und Weg in Capolago, 1921, fetched 1.4 million euro ($1.9 million) at an auction house in Zurich. Since his painting Die Mutter, 1911, brought nearly three million dollars (2.18 million euro) at a Christie’s auction in Kunsthaus Zurich in 2007, prices for his paintings have remained determinedly strong.
Painter Albert Anker (1831-1910), may have spent his career painting people in simple, everyday settings. However, his portraits are fetching far from everyday prices. Dobiaschofsky Auktionen AG sold the 1882 Bildnis eines Mädchens last May for 220,000 Swiss franc ($251,000). The small, loosely rendered oil painting more than doubled its 70,000 Swiss franc ($79,900) estimate. In June, a slightly larger, more refined pair of children’s portraits by Anker auctioned for 7.3 million Swiss franc ($8.5 million) in Zurich.
Both Germany and Switzerland lay claim to expressionist Paul Klee (1879-1940). What cannot be disputed is the magic his signature has at auction. His painting Tänzerin, 1932, sold last June at Christie’s London for over $6 million (4 million euro).
Works by Swiss painters Ferdinand Hodlers (1853-1918), Cuno Amiet (1868-1961) and Felix Vallotton (1865-1925), have brought consistently increasing results at auction. Collectors value them for their classic genre and finely rendered images, which are easy to live with.
Art collectors with an eye to the future may want to take a look at these active Swiss-born artists:
Urs Fischer (1973), has been called the world’s most expensive living artist under the age of 40. Fischer creates elaborate installations using drawings, sculpture, collage and surprising elements such as live birds and fresh fruit. One of his untitled works sold last May at Christie’s New York for $6 million (4.3 million euro).
Peter Fischli and David Weiss, a Swiss artist team creating together for 25 years, saw their best-known work, Der Lauf der Dinge, auctioned for $700,910 (512,486 euro) at Christie’s Zurich in 2008. This film records a chain reaction of inanimate objects, set into motion through clever use of the “domino effect” and chemical reaction.
Finally, Ugo Rondinone’s multimedia paintings, large-scale drawings and sculptures have reached prices in the $450,000-$500,000 range (324,000-360,000 euro). Such an upturn in price is unusual for a working artist.
German Record Set for Chinese Table
With a nearly 1.33 million euro hammer price ($1.8 million), a finely carved red sandalwood table from the 17th century Qianlong Dynasty returned to its cultural roots. A buyer in Hong Kong placed the winning bid with Nagel Auktionen GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart at their sale on Aug. 27. This broke the German auction record price paid for a single piece of Asian furniture. It also shattered Nagel’s estimate of 65,000 euro ($89,000) for the seven-piece group of Chinese furniture, which ended up bringing 2.6 million euro ($3.56 million). This price included the buyer’s premium. The table was originally from the estate of Dr. Edmund Dipper (1871-1933), former director of the German Hospital in Peking. The seller bought it at a time when such antiques were bringing very little money. The majority of pieces in this Stuttgart auction were sold to buyers in China.
Sept. 23-24 – Auktionshaus Michael Zeller, Lindau. 110th International Bodensee Auction including African tribal art, Asian handcrafts, paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, plus furniture, porcelain and much more. www.Zeller.de
Sept. 24 – Dr. Fischer Kunstauktionen, Trappensee-Schlösschen, Heilbronn. Their 200th Jubiläums Auction Features 200 Masterworks including paintings, sculpture and Art Deco and Jungenstil Glass. www.AuctionsFischer.de
Oct. 1 – Auction Team Breker, Cologne. Photography and film auction including stereophoto cards, spy and novelty cameras, and photographs. www.Breker.com
Oct. 5-6 – Nagel Auktionen GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart. Art and antiques. www.NagelAuktionen.de
Oct. 7-8 – Schwarzenbach Auktion, Zurich. International postage stamps, letters and post cards, with an emphasis on Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Europe. www.Schwarzenbach-Auktion.ch
Oct. 19-22 – Galerie Bassenge, Berlin. Decorative graphics, valuable books, autographs and a special catalog of Karl May. www.Bassenge.de
Nov. 23-25 – Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger, Munich. Antique coins and medallions; antiques. www.CoinHirsch.de
Nov. 23-25 – Galerie Fischer Auktionen AG, Luzern. Modern and contemporary painting; old master works; Swiss and Russian art; arts and crafts and furniture; silver and jewelry. www.FischerAuktionen.ch
Nov. 24-26 – Villa Grisebach Auktionen GmbH, Berlin. The auction house celebrates 25 years with five different sales—classic and contemporary photography, art of the 19th century, selected works, and the “Third Floor” auction featuring art works with an estimated value of up to 3000 euro. www.Villa-Grisebach.de
ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE