🔥 Lots to Watch - 8 May 2024

Works of Matthew Wong, Henry Taylor, Caroline Walker, Louis Fratino and Kehinde Wiley

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Thanks for all the great feedback from the lots I shared last Wednesday!

📈 Top Picks from the Last Issue:

This week, choosing just five artists was tough, especially with NY's gigaweek showcasing everyone from established blue-chips to strong new entrants. I aimed for a balance, favoring the ultra-contemporary. Let's dive in!

Today’s issue is brought to you by Rainbook, dedicated to transforming how you work with your financial advisor through clear, honest insights.

1) Matthew Wong

Matthew Wong, The Lagoon, 2016

  • 📍 Bio: Canadian, b. 1984

  • 📊 Price Range: $890,000 - $1,400,000

  • 💰 Record Price: $6,661,436 for River at Dusk, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong in 2023.

  • 🌎 Main Market: U.S.

💭 My 2 Cents: "The Lagoon," painted by Matthew Wong in 2016, is up for grabs with an estimate between $300,000 and $400,000. Wong, who taught himself to paint by studying online forums and library books, didn’t have a long career—he started painting in 2014 and tragically passed away in 2019. Yet, his works pull impressive numbers at auction. The hammer ratio sits at 2.76, meaning his pieces often sell for nearly three times the low estimate. This particular painting comes at a price that’s pretty accessible, given the usual buzz around his work. Museums like MoMA and The Met have scooped up his art, and with an 85.19% sell-through rate, it’s clear collectors are keen. "The Lagoon" is a chance to own a piece of Wong’s legacy—a legacy that’s only grown since his passing, without the hype that often inflates market bubbles.

2) Henry Taylor

Henry Taylor, C&H, 2006

  • 📍 Bio: American, b. 1958

  • 📊 Price Range: $125,000 - $185,000

  • 💰 Record Price: $2,480,000 for From Congo to the Capital, and black again, sold at Sotheby's New York in 2023.

  • 🌎 Main Market: U.S.

💭 My 2 Cents: Up for auction is Henry Taylor's "C&H" from 2006, tagged at $400,000 to $600,000. This acrylic on canvas is a straight dive into Taylor’s signature approach: quick, vivid, and all about real people and their stories. Taylor, who started out working in a psychiatric hospital, brings a unique, empathetic perspective to his art, often spotlighting Black life in America. His market stats? Pretty solid with a hammer ratio of 2.29, showing strong buyer interest. But although most of his works zip past their low estimates, only about 56% beat the high ones, which points to some highs and lows at auction. This piece comes with a good backstory too—shown at MoMA PS1 and previously part of some notable collections. For those who follow Taylor’s in the art scene, this painting holds special value, even if every auction isn’t a home run.

3) Caroline Walker

Caroline Walker, Eire, 2022

  • 📍 Bio: British, b. 1982

  • 📊 Price Range: $60,000 - $85,000

  • 💰 Record Price: $1,106,904 for Threshold, sold at Phillips London in 2023.

  • 🌎 Main Market: U.K.

💭 My 2 Cents: Caroline Walker's "Washing Line, Early Morning, May" is up for grabs, expected to fetch between $150,000 and $200,000. The piece comes straight from a notable stint at Edinburgh's Ingleby Gallery. Walker, a Scottish artist born in 1982, focuses on everyday moments of women at work, like hanging laundry. Educated at Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art, her approach gives us a peek into these quiet scenes with a solid narrative punch.Looking at the numbers, Walker’s art is generally well-received, with 91% of her works selling through and a hammer ratio sitting high at 2.98. Plus, most of her works, about 76%, haul in more than their high estimates, showing strong buyer interest. However, the market's enthusiasm isn't uniform across all pieces. There's a big gap between average sold prices and the median, suggesting that while some of her works hit it big, others don't stir as much excitement. So, while "Washing Line" comes with good creds and a strong backstory, the market's a bit unpredictable. This piece could be a solid pick or just an okay move, depending on how the market swings.

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4) Louis Fratino

Louis Fratino, Flower Market, 2022

💭 My 2 Cents: Louis Fratino's "Flower Market" is coming up with a $150,000 to $200,000 tag at auction, straight from Sikkema Jenkins & Co. It's featured in his latest book, too. Fratino's riding high right now—his works have been crushing expectations, with sales often more than doubling their low estimates (hammer ratio of 2.26), and the average lot value last year jumped a massive 68.31%. Plus, he's featured in this year's Venice Biennale, which is pretty significant. However, he’s known for human scenes, not flowers. So, this piece is a bit off the beaten path for him. Could be a wildcard in terms of market reaction. Great for those looking to gamble on something different, but it might not be everyone's cup of tea. Worth keeping an eye on, especially if you dig his style and are into taking some chances.

5) Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley, After Memling's Portrait of Jacob Obrecht, 2013

  • 📍 Bio: American, b. 1977

  • 📊 Price Range: $25,000 - $40,000

  • 💰 Record Price: $844,885 for Christian Martyr Tarcisius, sold at Phillips London in 2024.

  • 🌎 Main Market: U.S.

💭 My 2 Cents: Kehinde Wiley's "After Memling's Portrait of Jacob Obrecht," hitting the auction block with a price tag between $80,000 and $120,000. It’s a standout from his Memling series, known for swapping big canvases for something more up-close and personal. This isn’t just any Wiley work; it’s been around the world, from Phoenix to London's National Gallery. His pieces generally do well at auction—84.76% sell-through rate and a hammer ratio of 1.86 shows they often fetch more than expected. Wiley's showing solid numbers, with year-over-year growth sitting pretty at 15.03%. This piece has its perks without needing any extra hype.

Glossary: The hammer ratio represents the relationship between hammer price and the average pre-sale auction estimate. This ratio determines how a lot performed in relation to its presale estimate. The better performing a lot is, the larger the hammer ratio. Any ratio above 1.2 indicates a high bidding intensity that exceeds expectations.

See you next Wednesday!

P.S. Want to promote your business to my community of 10,000+ art lovers & collectors? Advertise in Frame&Flame.

🔗 Market Stories

Get the inside scoop on who's selling big-ticket art pieces this May auctions. Find out what's hot and who’s behind the sales (link)

Discover how the art world plans to keep Richard Serra's work alive and in demand, even after his passing (link)

Why doesn't Spanish art get more global attention? Chus Martínez weighs in on what needs to change (link)

Sterling Ruby’s latest works sold for big bucks. Are they really worth that much? (link)

More art is being sold online than ever before. Find out why and how this is changing the game for collectors (link)

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