Women Artists Like Caroline Walker and Sarah Ball Over-Perform at ‘Solid’ Phillips London Sale

This week in London, Phillips followed its competitors Sotheby’s and Christie’s, holding an evening sale dedicated to modern and contemporary art at its UK headquarters that brought in £20 million ($24 million) with buyer’s fees on Thursday.

The total was almost half the sum made during last year’s equivalent sale, held in March against the backdrop of an escalating war in Ukraine. That sale, which was larger than this year’s by 10 lots, brought in £29.9 million ($40 million), even with Phillips under heightened scrutiny for its Russian ownership.

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This time around, there were just 23 lots offered, making it the smallest evening sale that Phillips has staged in the British capital since 2019. All of them were sold, making it a white-glove sale.

The total amount the sale brought in likely would have been higher, were it not for the evening’s cover lot, a 1983 work by Gerard Richter consigned by French collector Marcel Brient, having been pulled before the sale. That work had been expected to sell for £10 million ($12 million).

After all was said and done, the auction hammered at a price of £16.3 million ($19.5 million) ($19.2 million–$23.5 million), meeting its newly adjusted low estimate.

Painters like Cecily Brown, the subject of a forthcoming showcase at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Caroline Walker, who already have a following in London, once again triumphed. Walker, whose work also appeared in major sales held by Christie’s and Sotheby’s this week, was represented at Phillips by the painting Threshold (2014), which hammered at £730,000 ($872,521). The results was more than three times the high £200,000 estimate, and it came after online and phone bidders competed with another in the room during a 10-minute long bidding spree. The work sold to the intent room bidder for £927,100 ($1.1 million) with premium, notching a new record for the artist.

A record was also set for London’s Angela Heisch by her 2019 canvas Egg White Blue. That work sold for £76,200 ($91,250). The result was close to double her last record of $50,400, set in 2022.

Cecily Brown, Skulldiver II, 2006. Courtesy Phillips.

Meanwhile, Brown’s canvas Skulldiver II (2006), in which abstract markings conceals erotic imagery, achieved a hammer price at £1.8 million ($2.2 million), surpassing its low estimate. The work sold for £2.2 million ($2.7 million)—which is still a modest sum compared to Brown’s auction record of $6.7 million from 2018.

British painter Sarah Ball achieved saw a new auction benchmark with her 2020 portrait Elliot. The work went for £120,650 ($144,490) after attracting bidders buyers from China and the UK. Ball’s record was last set in October during a London sale at Christie’s at £94,500 ($107,191).

Demand for established women artists was already highly visible in gallery scene, and specialists have said collectors are now expressing a desire to own their works. These results would only seem to confirm that trend.

Though living women artists brought records, the sale was still heavy on canonized artists, whose results often act as a barometer of the trade’s dynamics. The way 20th century “masters” were received on the auction stage this week, Phillips CEO Edward Dolman remarked in a press conference after the sale, left the house’s specialists feeling like the performance was “solid,” no matter how routine it all may have been.

Works by Jean Dubuffet, Anslem Kiefer, and Jeff Koons all sold within their estimates, going for between £482,600 ($577,962) and around £1 million ($1.3 million).

Source: artnews.com

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