Annual Art Investment Report by Skate’s: 2010 in Review, Forecast for 2011

December 30, 2010

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the Annual Art Investment Report by Skate’s. Published by Skate’s Art Market Research since 2006, this report covers global art market trends and provides forecasts for the coming year. Our coverage is focused on the universe of global artists (647 names as of December 27, 2010) whose works are represented in Skate’s Top 5000, our database of the world’s most valuable art based on auction prices. We also follow all publicly traded companies operating in the art industry around the world, tracking their performance with Skate’s Art Stocks Index.

In this issue:

1. 2010 Art Market Overview
2. Changes in Market Capitalization
3. Top 10 Traded Artists in 2010
4. Best ERR Transactions in 2010
5. Worst ERR Transactions in 2010
6. Top 10 Female Artists
7. Artists Who Passed Away in 2010
8. Leaving Skate’s, Value Reduction
9. Top 20 New Entrants to Skate’s Top 5000
10. Skate’s Art Stocks
11. The Global Art Market and Art Industry: Forecast for 2011

Seven Predictions for the Art World in 2011:

1. Art securitization will be the most important new trend to watch
2. Christie’s will go public if it is not sold to new owners, at least one more IPO in the art industry will take place in 2011
3. Artnet will harvest its investment in online auctions and will become the top performing stock in 2011
4. MCH Group will be pressed to launch online strategy for Art Basel events
5. The value of Skate’s Top 5000 will exceed $30 bln and its threshold price will go over $2 mln
6. Warhol will overtake Monet as the world’s second most valuable artist
7. More attention will be paid to photography

Click here to view the full newsletter.

Strong Sales for 20th Century British Art

December 20, 2010


Events like last Wednesday’s sale of 20th Century British Art at Sotheby’s London are not the type to normally generate significant attention from anyone but collectors focused on that period, and perhaps a few scholars. The sale produced no new entrants to Skate’s Top 5000, save for Sir Stanley Spencer’s Hilda and I at pond street (1954 (pictured above), which sold for £1,430,050 ($2,265,342), including buyer’s premium, and came in at #3988 in our ranking of the world’s most valuable artworks in nominal auction prices. Hilda and I at pond street joins two other works by Spencer in Skate’s Top 5000.

Lack of media attention aside, the results of Sotheby’s sale on December 15 (as well as Christie’s sale of 20th Century British Art the following day), give us a couple of key takeaways. First, the results were by and large healthy, with many works selling comfortably within or well above their pre-auction estimate ranges. Hilda and I at pond street, for example, sold for well over twice the high estimate of £600,000. Second, the relative lack of media hype surrounding this sale, coupled with the relatively low prices of many of the lots, suggest that investors may want to look at relatively less “popular” segments – like 20th century British art – for greater return potential. History has shown us time and again that lower-priced works tend to offer the best returns given the right market entry and exit strategies.

Art Securitization: All Systems Ready – Video Now Available

December 15, 2010

We are pleased to announce that full video coverage of our most recent event, Art Securitization: All Systems Ready, is now available. This event was held by Skate’s Insiders Club on December 2, 2010 at the Shore Club Hotel in Miami Beach as part of this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach.

Please note that the video below is divided into two parts.

Auction Underdogs Muscle into Skate’s Top 5000

December 11, 2010

Recent Record Sales at Phillips, MacDougall’s and Saffronart: Data Outliers or is the Auction Oligopoly Finally Being Challenged?

Skate’s Market Notes

Phillips stunned the art world last month when Andy Warhol’s Men in Her Life sold for $63.36 million. It turns out that the painting was Warhol’s second most valuable artwork in terms of auction prices and the 15th most valuable work of art ever sold at auction.

Under new ownership and reinforced management, Phillips’ success was well deserved. Once the clear third-place auction house worldwide, Phillips had virtually gone into oblivion in recent years, joining the ranks of Bonhams and the numerous other small auction houses. The owners have definitely paid for Phillips’ resurgence, and although a return on investment may be a long time in coming, the auction house is clearly #3 again with Christie’s and Sotheby’s still a long way ahead but Bohnams and the others continuing to fall behind.

Following the high-profile Carte Blanche auction, a financially secure Phillips returns to us this fall as a welcome supplier of works to Skate’s Top 5000. Apart from the above-mentioned Warhol sale, the first few days of November brought a few other unexpected Top 5000 entries.

While most of the art world’s attention was focused on Art Basel Miami Beach in early December, MacDougall’s, a London-based auction house specializing in Russian art, sold two pieces that entered Skate’s Top 5000…

Please click here to view the entire article.

Through Childlike Eyes: What Modern Artists Learned from Children’s Art

December 6, 2010

Drawing by Keira Bucher, age 5

The exuberance of a child exploring her world is a pleasure to watch. Children convey an unbridled truth and inventiveness in their observations of the people and objects around them.  Most importantly, they believe in the absoluteness of their place at the center of the universe and the fantastic possibilities of everything within their reach. The magic of children’s art lies in their ability to engage the imagined world, unencumbered by rules of physics or probability, ascribing unique shape and color to everything they see around them.  We were all part of that world at one time in our lives.  We once all intuited the secrets to unbridled creativity. At one time, we were each artists in our own right. Only a small fraction of us, however, have attempted to find the way back.
The idea that modern art looks like something that can be done by a child is a cliché. Yet, most artists understand that to paint in an abstract style is more difficult than representational art by an order of magnitude. The logical breakdown is two-fold: first, to assume that the child is intending to create an abstract work of art. They are, in fact, using untrained muscles and a set of drawing skills not yet impacted by the rules of perspective, relational size and color guidelines that impede the rest of us. They are working hard to create a realistic drawing and, for them, their effort, no matter how quaint or ‘primitive’ in our view, is usually a success from theirs; the second is to assume that the professional artist is not capable of creating a refined rendering of their subject. Suspending the formal rules of rendering or mark-making in art, in the interest of a desired effect or impact on the viewer, is only possible once you understand what those rules are. Their finished product may look accidental or erroneous, but the intention is most often deliberate and calculated.

Wassily Kandinsky, Little Pleasures (1913) includes references to drawings of his childhood village in Russia

To what end, you may ask?


In order to understand the apparent visual link between children’s art and its possible influence on the ‘childlike’ features of certain modernist works, it is important to highlight the research of Jonathan Fineberg and his publication, The Innocent Eye (1997). Years of exhaustive research on the topic resulted in his curating a 1995 exhibition, “The Innocent Eye-Children’s Art and the Modern Artist”, at two European museums. Feinberg noted that, “the roots of child art lie in the Romantic movement and their notion of ‘genius’ in the form of childlike innocence. Accordingly: they believed that children have more direct access to artistic inspiration; the ability to see things objectively, what Ruskin, in 1850, called, ‘without consciousness of what they signify’; the ability to see beyond the appearance to the ‘truth’ of things and fourth; a privileged view of the mysteries of life.”

Fineberg then goes on to say that, “As realism and then Impressionism placed unprecedented priority on objective, unfettered vision, the notion of what Ruskin had termed, ‘the innocence of the eye’ was transformed into an active aesthetic principle.” So, as the turn of the 20th century ushered in a whole new way of looking at and thinking about the world, led by advances in science, industry and technology, artistic pursuits had to go in search of appropriate inspiration. One result was the re-birth of the naïveté of simpler times. It took the form of the Arts and Craft Movement in the U.S. and the introduction of African and other remote tribal cultural influences in artistic expression, drawn from worlds far-removed from Western society. This so-called ‘Primitivism’ was an increasingly important influence in the work of major European artists of that time. There was erroneously thought to be a bridge between these far-flung examples of crudely-executed figurative sculpture and drawings and the creative output of children. Although misguided in their view, misogyny and ethnocentrism nevertheless prevailed, as newly-explored parts of the world opened to the scrutiny of the Anglo-European intellectual community.

Pablo Picasso, Paloma en Bleu (1952)

As a result of this assumed link, the experimental, even politically-radical climate within artistic movements in Europe, surrounding the World War I period, would begin to make allowances for the inclusion of children’s art. As more traditional sources of inspiration and old-school methods of making art were being challenged, new, more ‘modern’ approaches dominated the scene. Again, Fineberg notes that Andre Derain commented, in 1902, “I like to study the drawings of kids. That’s where the truth is, without a doubt.” August Macke, in The Blue Rider Almanac commented, “Are not children more creative in drawing directly from the secret of their sensations than the imitator of Greek forms?” And he observes that, for the Dadaists, childhood served as a symbol of their strategic retreat from social norms in search of spontaneity. For the Russian Symbolist painter, Leon Bakst, “what delights and moves us [in children’s’ pictures] is candor/sincerity, movement and clear, clean color.”


Artists like Henri Matisse noted the importance of children’s art, but did not eagerly embrace it as an influence in his work; Wassily Kandinsky collected children’s work and actively included imagery from some of these drawings in his paintings, particularly in his earlier pre-war landscapes; Picasso was known to say that, “when [he] was a child, [he] could draw like Raphael. It took [him] years to learn to draw like a child.” While he never actively embraced children’s motifs in his work, it is to certain aspects of Picasso’s oeuvre that the attribution of ‘childlike’ is most frequently applied. This is clearly unwarranted, as the complexity of his imagery is often veiled in the appearance of simplicity, even crudeness. These characteristics of seeming spontaneity and simplicity of line took him, as for most artists choosing to work in this style, years to perfect.

Jean Dubuffet, Poiro Zanzibar (1962), Private Collection
Joan Miro and Paul Klee are often seen to work in a ‘childlike’ style of simple geometric forms and scattered, gravity-defying figuration. For Klee, as Fineberg points out, “the discovery of a set of his own childhood drawings set him on a path of cataloguing ‘these primitive beginnings of art’… and to have them serve, in part, as coordinates for his own mature artistic journey.” For Miro, on the other hand, the author notes that his fascination with the drawing of his own daughter, born in 1930, held him spellbound. Unlike his own childhood drawing, which lacked spontaneity and exuberance, Miro spent his lifetime trying to recapture the direct connection to the subject that he believed characterized children’s art. As he told the French art critic, Dora Vallier, “The older I get and the more I master the medium, the more I return to my earliest experiences. I think that at the end of my life I will recover all the forces of my childhood.”

It can certainly be said that, as the 20th century progressed and the post-World War II period ushered in the Abstract Expressionists like Pollack and de Kooning and Rothko, the art of throwing, dripping, splashing and troweling paint onto canvas in gestures befitting the most aggressive child reached a high point. The expressive immediacy of deliberately ‘bad art’ can be seen in later works by Jean-Michael Basquiat, Karel Apel and Jean Dubuffet. The point of their work is not to flaunt the rules learned as a result of years of art training, but to apply those skills in emulating the experiential directness and unfiltered sensations of a child’s perception of the world.

Their bold attempts at the mastery of naïveté could only be approximations of the truth, as seen through the eyes of a child. Over the generations of the modern and post-modern period, artists have embraced the knowledge that their work can only be a simulation of the vivid reality and unfiltered consciousness of childhood. And every artist has understood that there is no returning.

By Richard Friswell, Publisher and Executive Editor

Reference: Jonathan Fineberg, The Innocent Eye, Princeton University Press, 1997.

Monthly Art Investment Ideas from Skate’s Art Market Research: December, 2010

December 6, 2010

Skate’s Art Investment Review

Welcome to the December issue of Skate’s Art Investment Review. As always, our coverage is focused on the universe of global artists (currently 631 artists) who are represented in Skate’s Top 5000 database of the world’s most valuable art according to auction prices. To learn more about Skate’s Top 5000 and the artworks and artists represented, please visit

In this issue of Skate’s Art Investment Review we focus on the most important November results, as well as on the major upcoming auctions held by Christie’s and Sotheby’s:

“Art Impressionniste et Moderne,” Christie’s, December 2
“Art Contemporain, ”Christie’s, December 8-9
“Impressionist & Modern Art,” Sotheby’s, December 8
“Contemporary Art,” Sotheby’s, December 7

Click here to view the full newsletter.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,612 other followers