Trending: Women artists to collect right now
We survey artists whose markets are on the rise, offered across three sales in April and May. From Carol Rama to Rachel Whiteread, spanning a range of media, all have recently been the subject of major shows and feature in important collections
For more than three decades, American artist Kiki Smith’s multifaceted, multimedia practice has examined human nature from all angles.
Her early work, which emerged in the 1980s in the shadow of the AIDS crisis, addressed shifting perspectives on sexuality and gender. Notably, Smith gravitated toward figuration, despite the art world’s long domination by abstraction and minimalism.
Since the early 1990s Smith has been increasingly interested in alternative narratives. Today, interest in her work remains as strong as ever. She is the subject of a retrospective at the Haus der Kunst in Munich until 3 June 2018; in 2017 she was chosen by Christine Macel, chief curator at the Centre Pompidou, to participate in the Viva Arte Viva exhibition at the 57th Venice Biennale. Christie’s holds the top two prices for Smith’s work at auction.
A recent retrospective at Tate Britain shed fresh light on Rachel Whiteread’s practice and buoyed the already strong market for her sculptures. In October 2014, Untitled (Twenty-five spaces) — a cast in translucent amber, rose and citrine resin of the space beneath a group of chairs — realised £578,500 at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London, almost doubling its low estimate of £300,000.
For the past three decades, Whiteread has been casting what she refers to as ‘negatives spaces’ — everything from the innards of a hot-water bottle to the undersides of a table and the space surrounding a bath. In her formulation, the process of casting serves to elevate overlooked objects and transient spaces.
A key figure among the Young British Artists, Whiteread in 1993 became the first woman to win the Turner Prize. Also in that year she created perhaps her most renowned work: House, a cast of the inside of an East London house slated for demolition. House became a potent symbol of the erosion of London communities when it was razed a mere 11 weeks after its completion. In 1997 her work featured in the Royal Academy’s seminal exhibition, Sensation, which brought the YBAs to prominence.
Italian artist Carol Rama is known for her investigations into the fetishisation of the female form: the transgressive content of her first exhibition, in 1945, caused it to be shut down by the Turin police.
It wasn’t until much later in her career, when she was in her seventies, that she would begin to garner critical attention, and it is only since her death in 2015 — at the age of 97 — that her work has truly begun to receive global recognition. A major show in 2017 at the New Museum in New York and the Palazzo Ca’ Nova in Venice brought her to a wider audience, with the artist’s top prices at auction being achieved in the past two years.
Rama’s work has been compared to that of her contemporary, Louise Bourgeois. In her art, she deploys a wealth of unconventional media to create ‘formless’ object-paintings that borrow heavily from her often traumatic life. Entirely self-taught, Rama selected her materials carefully, subverting them to project new interpretive diversions and unexpected imagery.
In later life she was the subject of a retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and in 2003 received a lifetime achievement award at the Venice Biennale.
Although still in her early thirties, British artist Helen Marten has seen her works enter major international collections including Tate Britain; the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo; the Stedelijk, Amsterdam; and the K11 Art Foundation in Hong Kong. She has been shown at the Venice Biennale in both 2013 and 2015, and received both the Barbara Hepworth Prize for Sculpture and the Turner Prize in 2016. Marten was also the subject of successful solo shows at Sadie Coles in 2014 and the Sackler Serpentine in 2016.
Equally comfortable working in two and three dimensions, she employs a unique visual language drawn from literature, popular culture, folklore and fairytales. Marten’s works have been offered at auction on three occasions, and have sold for well above their high estimates.
Current interest in Nan Goldin’s work can partly be explained by her activism designed to shed light on the opiate epidemic in America. Following the publication of a highly personal essay on her battle with addiction in Artforum and her headline-grabbing protest at the Met in March 2018, Goldin’s profile has never been higher. Her work is currently featured in a host of group shows and exhibitions on photography, including art-historical shows such as Real Worlds: Brassai, Arbus, Goldin at the MOCA in Los Angeles.
News of Goldin’s collaboration with street-fashion label Supreme is helping to introduce her work to a younger generation. Christie’s holds seven of the top 10 prices for the artist at auction.
Carla Accardi was the sole female member of Forma 1, the influential post-war Italian group which called for the reconciliation of Marxist politics with abstract art. Throughout the 1950s Accardi reduced her palette to black and white to explore the relationship between figure and ground.
In the early 1960s, however, she began reintegrating colour into her work, and painting on transparent plastic. This phase of Accardi’s practice, which was celebrated in the Ambiente/Arte section of the 1976 Venice Biennale, would prove influential for the Arte Povera movement. In 2014, Verderossogiallonero (Greenredyellowblack), painted in 1967, sold for £170,500, more than twice its high estimate, at Christie’s in London.
In the early 1970s, together with art critic Carla Lonzi, Accardi became a founding member of the neo-feminist group Female Revolt — only to quit when Lonzi decided that painting was itself a patriarchal activity. Her first solo exhibition in the United States, Triplice Tenda (Triple Tent), was held in 2001 at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1) in New York. The following year, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris presented a retrospective of her work.
Julie Cockburn deploys a range of techniques to transform found photographs into surreal, hybrid visions. A 2016 solo show at the Photographer’s Gallery in London was a critical success, and her work has entered collections including the Yale Center for British Art and the Wellcome Collection. In May 2017 Idyll 2012 sold for £5,250, almost three times its low estimate, at Christie’s in London.
In her practice, Cockburn embroiders mid-20th-century photographs with vividly coloured geometric patterns, or obliterates her subjects’ identities with kaleidoscopic optical illusions, generating a dialogue between gender and identity, the mass-produced and the delicately crafted. Yet it is an instinctive reaction to the objects she encounters, rather than an underlying intellectual or political agenda, that guides her approach.
Having been the subject of a major 2012 retrospective organised by the Guggenheim Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Amsterdam-based photographer last year received the prestigious Hasselblad Award in recognition of the power of her images to ‘speak brilliantly to the intricacy of the portrait’.
In our First Open Online sale, we are offering a work from her Park Portraits series (2003-06), for which Dijkstra photographed adolescents in urban green spaces including Amsterdam’s Vondelpark, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, Madrid’s El Parque del Retiro and Xiamen’s Amoy Botanical Garden.
Other works to look out for include photographs from her breakthrough Beaches series (1992-96) — provocative images of adolescent bathers in coastal locations across the United States and Europe — as well as her series on mothers in the moments after giving birth, bullfighters about to enter the arena, and images of an adolescent Bosnian refugee taken between 1994 and 2003.
Norwegian photographer Anja Niemi stages, shoots and performs in atmospheric solo scenes that interrogate the social construction of female identity. To date, her work has been acquired by the Nion McEvoy Collection, the Hudson Bay Company Global Art Collection, the Oslo City Council, and the Susanne von Meiss Collection. Her UK auction record was set in May 2017 at Christie’s when The Backyard 2014 sold for £5,250.
Exploring the boundary between the real and the imaginary, Niemi often adopts awkward and contorted poses and plays with different vantage points to highlight the divergence between what we choose to reveal in our daily lives and who we actually are. ‘We have a tendency to cover up our flaws and decay, hiding all the ugliness of life,’ she says. ‘I try to have a bit of humour about it.’