Post-War to Present — established names, fresh new talent
A closer look at 10 artists whose reputations and markets are on the rise — all with works offered in our Post-War to Present auction in London on 28 June
1. William Nelson Copley (1919-1996)
Who? American artist, collector, dealer and patron William Nelson Copley lived an improbably colourful life: he married six times, made and lost vast fortunes, and played a major role in some of the most exciting chapters of post-war art history.
A self-taught artist, Copley employed a style in which Surrealism meets Pop in a deeply personal, eccentric and ribald manner. His playful and boldly innovative works, which reflect his larger-than-life personality, represent a parallel universe in which he explored his extravagant desires, drives and fantasies.
If you like these, you might enjoy: Sigmar Polke’s similarly unpredictable, brash and irreverent works, and David Salle’s unsettling and disorienting compositions.
Recent exhibitions: In 2016-17 the first comprehensive museum exhibition of Copley’s art, held at the Fondazione Prada, Milan, and the Menil Collection, Houston, brought renewed attention to his singular style, and to the influential place he occupied in the burgeoning art world of his time.
Collections: Copley’s works are held by major institutional collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Tate Collection includes Place de l’Opéra — a work that closely relates to Fête de Dimanche, above, offered in our London sale on 28 June.
Market: Copley’s Paysage de Sodom (1959), which Christie’s offered in New York in March 2018, realised $68,750 against a pre-sale estimate of $50,000-70,000.
2. Carla Accardi (1924-2014)
Who? Born in Trapani in Sicily in 1924, Carla Accardi is celebrated for her rich iconography of flatly rendered ciphers and symbols. Working at the forefront of the avant-garde Italian art scene in the wake of the Second World War, Accardi helped to revolutionise painting through a new pictorial language that sought simultaneously to express aesthetic beauty while revealing the artifice behind it.
If you like this, you might enjoy: Carol Rama’s experimental works, which are also defined by a conscious disregard for the traditional painter’s tools and materials.
Recent exhibitions: Accardi’s work is currently being exhibited in Atlas at Fondazione Prada’s Torre, Milan. The exhibition, which shows works from the Prada Collection, establishes contrasts and confrontations, and emerged from a dialogue between Miuccia Prada and curator Germano Celant.
Market: Accardi’s Turchese chiuso, offered in our Milan Modern and Contemporary Sale in April 2018, exceeded expectations and sold for €81,250 against a pre-sale estimate of €50,000-70,000.
3. Geta Brătescu (b. 1926)
Who? Born in Romania in 1926, avant-garde multimedia artist Geta Brătescu produces work that is defined by her commitment to the drawn line, whether created by a body performing through space, by coloured threads in sewn compositions, or within her detailed classical draughtsmanship. At 92 years of age, she is still regarded as the forerunner in the field of Romanian Conceptualism.
If you like this, you might enjoy: Carol Rama’s bold and geometric composition Luogo e Segni (Place and Signs), 1974.
Recent exhibitions: In 2015, Brătescu had her first UK solo exhibition at Tate Liverpool, which was followed by a second, Geta Brătescu — The Studio: A Tireless, Ongoing Space held at Camden Arts Centre in London in 2017. In the same year, she was also selected to represent Romania at the 57th Venice Biennale.
Collections: Brătescu’s work can be found in important public collections internationally, including MOMA, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; and the National Museum of Art of Romania.
Market: Brătescu’s works have only recently begun to appear on the secondary market, but her seminal role in the field of conceptual art is highlighted by the fact that she is represented by Hauser & Wirth, where she has exhibited extensively.
4. Stanley Whitney (b. 1946)
Who? American artist Stanley Whitney has described himself as a process painter. His optically complicated, brightly coloured works are the product of contingencies and improvisations.
If you like this, you might enjoy: the equally colourful yet harder-edged works of Imi Knoebel, such as Anima Mundi 54-5, 2015, or Sean Scully’s trademark striped compositional patterning.
Recent exhibitions: After a long career — much of it spent under the radar — Whitney had his first solo exhibition, Dance the Orange, at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, in 2015. More recently, a large selection of his riotous abstract works was displayed at Documenta 2017.
Market: Having been ‘discovered’ relatively late in his career, demand for Whitney’s works has never been higher. A comparable work to Loose Dreams (above) made $200,000 at auction in May 2018 — a new world record for the artist.
5. Leon Polk Smith (1906-1996)
Who? American abstract painter Leon Polk Smith was one of the founders of the hard-edge style of minimal art. He rose to prominence in the late 1950s and early 1960s with his distinctive series, Correspondences, which typically consist of two vibrantly-coloured painted shapes defined by a precise but often irregular contour.
‘My canvases are something like a magnetic field, and they have to be alive all over,’ the artist explained. ‘How far will the forces that are established by this division of colour carry?’
If you like this, you might also enjoy: Robert Mangold’s Curved Plane/Figure X, 1995. His compositions of simple elements invite the same intense scrutiny as Polk Smith’s creations.
Collections: Polk Smith’s works are in numerous public and private collections worldwide, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, among many others.
Market: The artist’s market has shown consistent strength and seems to be on the ascendant. Blue-Red, a comparable work to Correspondence: Blue, Yellow Medium (above) was sold in our New York saleroom in March 2018 for $81,250, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate.
Read about the next 5 artists in our list