As the tumult of this spring draws to an end and we look toward a likely even more tumultuous summer, the auction houses have accepted the reality of hosting what would normally be their blockbuster May auctions online and in late June and July. And with Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s suffering a 40 percent drop in revenue in the first quarter of the year, there’s all the more pressure to produce big results in the coming months. But even during the historic downturn caused by widespread confinement, art sold in droves, especially works at lower price points and by younger or more off-the-radar artists.
“Our spring online sales have been the testament to the resilience of the art market, and the current strength of the very contemporary segment specifically,” said Tamila Kerimova, specialist and head of day sales at Phillips, which notched its highest total ever for an online-only sale last week. “The success of these sales proves that people are comfortable buying art online, which is definitely a positive in today’s new world.”
While the upcoming evening sales will likely be dominated by household names like Francis Bacon, Joan Mitchell, and Roy Lichtenstein, the most compelling storylines at the online-only sales of the last several months were driven by less ubiquitous figures. Below, we look at some of the artists who made a splash during the spring sales and seem destined to continue sparking conversations as more of the art world reopens………..