Country for PR: United Kingdom
Contributor: PR Newswire Europe
Wednesday, January 15 2020 - 00:11
Artprice by How to Objectively Define Contemporary Art in 2020?
PARIS, January 14, 2020, /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/--

For the sake of coherence, clarity and transparency, Artprice's editorial team 
has always divided Art History into five main periods with artworks being 
classified according to a simple and indisputable criterion... the birth year 
of their creators:

- 'Old Masters' ... artists born up until 1760 
- 'Modern' ... artists born from 1860 to 1920 
- 'Post-War' ... artists born between 1920 and 1945 
- 'Contemporary' ... artists born after 1945

As time advances, the period we refer to as 'Contemporary Art' is getting 
longer. It now covers artists as diverse as Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) 
and Oscar Murillo (b. 1986), Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945) and Kaws (b. 1974), Martin 
Kippenberger (1953-1997) and Cory Arcangel (b. 1978). On the other hand, our 
classification excludes Gerhard Richter (b. 1932), David Hockney (b. 1937) and 
El Anatsui (b. 1944).

According to thierry Ehrmann, Artprice's founder and CEO of "An 
objective 'periodization' of Art History helps us to study the market, its 
structure and its evolution, even if it means distinguishing – far too 
categorically sometimes – what is Contemporary from what is not. But the fact 
that Maurizio Cattelan generates thousands more Instagram posts than Marcel 
Duchamp and that a work by Kaws is suddenly as expensive as the best paintings 
by Pierre Soulages naturally raises numerous questions about the trends and 
contradictions that drive the Art Market, but also about the very notion of 
Contemporary art."

In art, 'Contemporary' doesn't mean 'alive today'...

How should we label the œuvres of Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) or of Pierre Soulages 
(who has just celebrated his 100th birthday)? Although their careers began 
shortly after WWII, Kusama and Soulages produced some of their best works long 
after the deaths of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat…  And yet, on the Art 
Market, Kusama's and Soulages's prices are growing gradually whereas those of 
Jean-Michel Basquiat, for example, are still posting substantial volatility.

Perhaps we should see Contemporary art quite simply as art that has not yet 
become perfectly established. That's the fundamental difference between Marcel 
Duchamp and Maurizio Cattelan, between Duchamp's Fontaine (1919) et Cattelan's 
Comedian (2019). Whereas Duchamp's famous urinal remains controversial, few 
question its place in Art History, whereas Cattelan's banana taped to the wall 
still has a long way to go before it is accepted.

This distinction remains ambiguous for certain artists. Look at Jeff Koons – 
there is a good chance today his work will be seen as having singularly marked 
the latter decades of the 20th century and his Rabbit (1986) sculpture is 
clearly already considered a kind of 'classic'. However, his creations are 
still causing serious controversy and his approach to art has not yet been 
fully accepted. The recent Appeal Court ruling that Koons plagiarized the work 
of a French photographer in his work Naked (1988) is just the latest in a 
series of obstacles the American artist has faced.

Our birth-year analysis (based on 2019 results) throws up three exceptional 
dates... 1955, 1960 and 1974.

Born on the East coast of the United States exactly 10 years after WWII, Jeff 
Koons and Christopher Wool make 1955 the best 'vintage' in our Contemporary Art 
results ranking filtered by year-of-birth. Neither have ever represented the 
USA at the Venice Biennale, but their works have been acquired by major 
American museums for decades. Two other artists also made a significant 
contribution to the results of the 1955 vintage: Kerry James Marshall (born in 
Alabama), who has ranked among the world's Top 100 artists by annual auction 
turnover (all periods combined) over the past two years, and the Chinese 
artist, Zhou Chunya.

With an annual auction total of $129 million in 2019, Jean-Michel Basquiat 
still dominates the Contemporary Art Market. Almost alone, he made 1960 one of 
the best 'vintages' of the second half of the 20th century. Glenn Ligon, the 
second best performing artist born in 1960, contributed only $1.9 million.

Curiously, the new stars of Street Art, Kaws and Banksy, were both born in 
1974, on either side of the Atlantic… Kaws in Jersey City in the USA, and 
Banksy in Bristol, England. 

So, despite its lack of flexibility and its limitations, the historical 
classification adopted by Artprice remains coherent with the auction results 
recorded in 2019 (filtered by birth-year). If a new start date were to be 
chosen for the 'Contemporary' category, it could be argued that the year 1965 
would be a logical separation date. However, the continuing market volatility 
on works by several major artists born during the 20 years prior to 1965 – 
Albert Oehlen (b. 1954), Rudolf Stingel (b. 1956), Zhang Xiaogang (b. 1958) and 
Damien Hirst (b. 1965) – suggests that their positions in Art History are still 
not yet fully established. 

Copyright 1987-2020 thierry Ehrmann -

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