🤷‍♂️ Magritte's Comeback: Why Care?

+ Miriam Cahn's Skyrocketing Prices + What's Hot at Christie's + The Rarity of Hepworth's Monumentals


The Hammer is a series from Frame&Flame that reviews past auction performances and upcoming lots to identify artists whose markets are 'heating up.'

This week’s The Hammer includes:

  • 📈 Heating Up: Miriam Cahn captivates, her vivid art pushing gender boundaries while her market value soars. Provocation and color theory in one portfolio? Absolutely.

  • 🔍 Lots to Watch: From Magritte's million-euro enigma to Hepworth's monumental market rise, October's auctions are setting the stage for record-shattering bids.

Read Time 05 minutes

📈 Heating Up

Swiss artist Miriam Cahn, 74, has been turning heads not just for her provocative art but also for the buzz she's creating in the art market. This year alone, 19 pieces were auctioned off for a total of $2.9 million, with an average sale price of $152,691.

Cahn's work has been included in esteemed collections such as MoMA, Tate Modern, and Museo Nacional Centro de Reina Sofia, among others.

A subject of both controversy and reverence, Cahn’s work is vivid, pushing the boundaries of social norms and gender roles, often leaving the viewer disquieted yet intrigued.

Miriam Cahn, Woman in Yellow (1999)

🔴 Market Signals

Averages Over the Last 36 Months

  • Yearly Lots Sold: 10

  • Sell-through Rate: 88.2%

  • Average Sale Price: $114K

  • Price Over Estimate: 170%

An average sell-through rate of 88.2% shows that there's more than just casual interest; this is demand. Prices consistently shooting over estimates—in some cases by 1,170%—indicate that collectors are willing to go to great lengths to own a piece of Cahn's artistic narrative.

🦞 Recent Auction Highlights

  1. Das Genaue Hinschauen (The Close Look), 2018: Sold at Sotheby's for $702,964 against a five-figure estimate—highest auction price for Cahn to date.

  2. Animal Attentive, 1997: Estimated between $12,000–$18,000, it was sold for a staggering $238,402.

  3. Woman in Yellow, 1999: Sold at Sotheby's for $55,627 against an estimate of $6,000–$8,000, marking a 535% price over estimate.

This data paints a clear picture of an artist whose work is not just pushing social dialogue but also commanding extraordinary prices.

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🔍Lots to Watch

René Magritte, La Valse Hésitation (1955)

Sotheby's has dropped a potential blockbuster with the announcement of the sale of René Magritte's La Valse Hésitation, slated for October 19th in Paris. This painting, with an estimated worth of €10 million, hasn't seen the public light since 1979, tightly held within the realm of private Belgian collections. Signaling a momentous occasion, the sale will coincide with Art Basel's Paris Plus art fair—a stage that usually amplifies sale prices. To contextualize Magritte's market, let's look at Le pretre marie, a parallel work from the same series. Offered in 2007 with an estimated value of £2 million, it shattered expectations by hammering at £5.28 million, inclusive of fees.

💭My 2 Cents: Magritte's La Valse Hésitation presents a compelling value proposition. The nearly 2.64x hammer ratio of Le pretre marie back in 2007 serves as a robust signal for the market's appetite for the artist's key works. The numbers don't lie; Magritte is not just a staple in surrealist conversations but also a robust investment vehicle in contemporary art. With the work surfacing after 44 years, its rarity and the timing of its sale during a major art fair position it as a prime collecting opportunity.

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