Young Artists for Sale: Do Auctions Validate Art?
In the last two weeks the two biggest auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, have held auctions with young artists between the ages of 25 and 35 alongside pieces by older artists. What does this type of sale tell us in terms of validating the art?
During May, auctions have been held that have broken historical sales records with collections that house some of the most relevant artists of the 20th century. However, auction houses have also turned their attention to young or short-career artists whose works are unlikely to have been shown in major museums.
Christie’s held the “21st Century” auction on May 10, while Sotheby’s hosted “The Now” evening sale. Both showed renowned artists such as Banksy, Gerhard Richter, Yoshimoro Nata or Lisa Yuskavage along with the work of artists born between 1983 and 1995. In both cases, works by artists such as Amoako Boafo (Ghana, 1983) and Anna Weyant (Canada, 1995 ) were included in a sales dynamic that inevitably leads to think about the power of the market to establish or validate an artist’s career.
One of the most interesting aspects of the auctions is not the age of the artists, but the production date of the works, which are no more than 2 or 3 years old in most cases. Last week, Jason Farago of the New York Times in his article “Catch a Rising Star at the Auction House” brought to the table a possible debate about the authority that the market has to validate an artist or a work of art and define it as such. How is it that the importance of a work whose lifetime within the dynamics of art has been short is currently determined? How is the historicity of a piece thought today.
Although it is interesting and important to integrate new generation artists or older artists whose careers are just beginning into the market, because in the end artistic work is professional work, there is no doubt about the importance of thinking about the different dynamics that unfold and unfold around the market and art institutions such as museums.