Can Anselm Kiefer’s Auction Market Ever Catch Up to His Work’s Monumental Ambitions?


No 1 has ever accused Anselm Kiefer of acquiring also gentle a touch. He’s 1 of several painters whose bravado can really meet up with the location of 1 of Venice’s grandest properties, and Kiefer’s monumental charred canvases in the cavernous Sala dello Scrutinio at the Palazzo Ducale have been a conversing level throughout the Venice Biennale.

The desolate portray-cum-sculptural assemblages incorporate inspirations from the Italian masters who crammed the house before him. Drawing on other histories, from historical mythologies to the traumas of the Holocaust, the functions grow to be metaphors for additional new horrors, this kind of as the refugee disaster and the war unfolding in Ukraine.

Even nevertheless the this year’s biennale aimed to interrupt the plan of the white male as the middle of the artistic universe, a Economic Moments critic dubbed Kiefer “the man of the moment” in Venice. 

All this is to say that the art globe is abuzz about Kiefer. But can his share of the marketplace at any time match the monumental scale of his canvases? We dug into the Artnet Value Database to discover out. 


Table of Contents

The Context

Auction Report: $4 million, attained at China Guardian Auctions Co. in June 2019.

Kiefer’s Performance in 2021

Loads sold: 32

Bought in: 8

Promote-by way of amount: 80 per cent

Average sale rate: $209,558 

Suggest estimate: $184,975 

Full profits: $6.7 million

Top painting cost: $1.1 million

Lowest portray rate: $69,300 

Lowest general rate: $10,478, for a collage of ashes and lead on digital pictures, from an edition of 150

© 2022 Artnet Worldwide Corporation.

© 2022 Artnet Around the world Corporation.

  1. Marketplace historical past. Kiefer’s work to start with cracked the $1 million watermark at auction in 2001, and due to the fact then 48 of his works have sold in surplus of that benchmark. Kiefer’s whole product sales peaked at $22.5 million in 2016, the very same 12 months the biggest range of loads to day (58) were being provided to market, and when his normal selling price also topped out at $562,496.
  2. It is all relative. Despite plenty of crucial acclaim for his work, Kiefer’s secondary marketplace has unsuccessful to meet up with the highs of some of his older German peers, such as Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke, and Gerhard Richter, who have netted (respectively) best charges of $9 million, $27.1 million, and $46.4 million. (That said, Kiefer’s recent perform sells on the major market place for among $1 million and $3 million, which is in line with principal rates for Baselitz.)
  3. Crunched offer. Kiefer’s most crucial parts day from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, numerous of which are housed in important museums. Three works from his “Parsifal” cycle, for instance, are owned by Tate in London other folks are in the Fisher Assortment at SFMOMA, and crucial non-public collections, such as that of Charles Saatchi. Practically nothing of this high-quality has occur to be made available at auction, and typically the Kiefer is effective that do appear to auction have condition problems due to the fact the artist’s operates have to have exclusive conservation treatment.
  4. Measurement matters. Kiefer prefers to do the job in quite substantial and usually in monumental scale, which can make the will work difficult to place outside the house of institutional configurations. His most in-desire performs are paintings at the more domestic scale of around six ft by 9 toes, and potentially considerably counterintuitively as a consequence these have a tendency to be proportionally far more costly than the more substantial works. There is also a strong market place for his performs on paper, which routinely market at auction for into the six figures. As with the paintings, demand from customers is strongest for previously illustrations, but yet again quite a few of these are in museums this sort of as the Satisfied in New York and the Albertina in Vienna.
  5. Pandemic slump. Kiefer’s now illiquid secondary industry was dealt a large blow by the pandemic, with complete income dropping 70.2 percent due to the fact 2019, to $4 million, and nary a get the job done breaking the $1 million threshold. The industry only a little recovered in 2021, mounting to $6.7 million in complete income, with the prime price just squeaking past the $1 million mark.
  6. Industry minute. Even with the gradual action on the secondary current market, there remains obvious demand for the work, with 2,567 consumers hunting for Kiefer in Artnet’s Rate Databases over the previous 12 months. Kiefer’s dealers—Gagosian, Thaddaeus Ropac, and White Cube—have been performing difficult to continue to keep him in the highlight in new years, including securing him a key long term installation at the Pantheon in Paris in 2020. In 2021, he was the 1st visual artist to get more than the place of the Grand Palais Éphèmère and the important moment in Venice this 12 months is concurrently functioning with a show at Thaddaeus Ropac’s Paris Pantin room.


Bottom line

The absence of provide of top rated examples of Kiefer’s function to the secondary sector indicates that auction info can only tell us so a lot. The scale of considerably of the work—the artist resists generating what he calls “sofa paintings”—means that it is most at household in museums, which are not likely to deaccession. Meanwhile, his galleries have done a great occupation of managing offer to the auction marketplace, and owning will work that are resold arrive back again by way of the galleries privately, and therefore holding the secondary market fairly illiquid.

Kiefer’s market place tale is not in contrast to that of Robert Rauschenberg, whose industry we seemed at a couple months back. Though Rauschenberg was unquestionably a vital American artist and one of the 20th-century greats, for a long time his marked lagged driving peers like Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, and Johns. The motive staying that although critical will work ended up becoming bought privately, the auction market place was sluggish to occur up with a serious masterpiece. All it normally takes is a one top quality portray offered at auction—for Rauschenberg that was an $89 million silkscreen from a primary calendar year that hit the block in 2019—to alter that sector story.

For Kiefer’s auction market place, that second may continue to be a techniques off. Even though there is some excellent stuff coming up—a Kiefer woodcut currently being presented as section of the Macklowe selection sale in New York could established a record for a woodcut, and there is a monumental 1982 landscape coming up in a Sotheby’s evening sale—anything of the caliber that would upend the community narrative has but to seem on the auction horizon.


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