Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Art Market is Alive although Slightly Unwell

Went to de Vere's Irish Art Auction last night - a reasonable attendance but with a high proportion of dealers. The highlight was a characteristically whimsical Gerard Dillon which went for €200,000 (€90,000 reserve) - two big boys locking antlers I suspect. Overall about 75% of the works on offer sold although a lot of them were at the lower end of their guide prices. However it did suggest that rumours of the death of the art market seem wide of the mark. A modest decline perhaps.

Both Donald Teskey and John Shinnors bucked the trend and remain very strong. Also, of the dead school, Dan O'Neill and Colin Middleton continue to wax. On the other hand poor old Paddy Collins star seems to be on the wane - although the works of his on offer were not great. A Camille Souter work on paper ("The Champion") went for €60K - €20K above the higher end of the estimate. Although it's a powerful piece, I couldn't have got over the apparently wizened left bicep of the victorious boxer. It's not that we're looking for realism from her, it's just that this particular section occupies the focal point of the image. Also, a lot of Souter's work seems to be on materials whose durability would worry me. There was sharp competition for a characterful Caracciolo pencil drawing "Portrait of an Italian Girl" - an exquisite piece. It eventually went to Frank McGuinness, the playwright, who also bought a dainty little Mainie Jellet nude.