Final week, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation declared that it would deal with a mammoth activity about the future two many years: publishing a catalogue raisonné of the American artist’s paintings and sculptures. The very first of the prepared 10 volumes will be readily available in 2025.
The foundation intends to make the catalogue available for cost-free on the web, removing the obstacle of acquiring a cumbersome and highly-priced encyclopedia for those people fascinated in the artist. Could the announcement, which follows a new auction history for established in 2019, signal new daily life for Rauschenberg’s very long-dormant marketplace? We dipped into Artnet’s Price tag Databases to obtain out.
Auction history: $88.8 million at Christie’s New York in May possibly 2019
Rauschenberg’s Functionality in 2021
Lots marketed: 307
Acquired in: 73
Provide-by charge: 80 p.c
Ordinary sale selling price: $72,443
Imply estimate: $45,007
Full income: $22.2 million
Top rated portray price: $11 million
Most affordable portray cost: $2,300
Cheapest general selling price: $223, for a signed photographic etching from 1977
- Rare Windfall. Pursuing a very long peaceful time period for Rauschenberg’s industry, the artist’s total profits enhanced sharply in 2019, to $97.3 million, his finest calendar year still. The end result was buoyed nearly entirely by the $89 million sale of a vivid prime-year silkscreen at Christie’s New York. Made available by the estate of the late Chicago collectors Robert and Beatrice Mayer, who experienced owned it for 50 a long time, the perform fetched nearly five situations the artist’s earlier auction report of $18.6 million.
- Limited Source. Rauschenberg’s current market has very long been characterised by a lack of provide for major functions, which goes some way towards conveying the exceptional result above. Most in-desire are silkscreens and “combines”—which fuse painting and sculpture—produced all around the time he won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1964. Museums have considering that scooped up a large amount of the ideal early work, earning significant-scale, excellent-issue examples hard to obtain.
- Uneven Demand. If it seems odd to be conversing about a absence of supply from one particular of America’s most prolific and protean artists, that is due to the fact it is. Source is limited only for the popular early performs. A relentless experimenter, Rauschenberg’s prints, ephemera, and outtakes considerably outnumber his most useful combines and silkscreens. This may perhaps explain the lackluster sell-by means of charge around the past decade (concerning 19.2 percent and 37.5 per cent of lots supplied unsuccessful to discover prospective buyers) and the absence of trophy-degree charges (of the 54 Rauschenbergs that have bought at auction for a lot more than $1 million, only seven surpassed $10 million).
- Reliable Curiosity. That does not mean that no a person is looking. Some 5,171 users searched for Rauschenberg in Artnet’s Cost Database in 2021, with desire unfold out constantly throughout the calendar year. (He bought more queries than Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Rembrandt, to name a several.)
- Buzzy Private Sales. Community profits information can only notify us so much. Insiders insist that the real action for Rauschenberg is happening privately, the place the best examples can fetch concerning $30 million and $100 million. There have been some general public indications of this sort of prices—MoMA reportedly obtained a major combine, Rebus (1955), from collector François Pinault in 2005 for $30 million. But there are also counterpoints: Thaddaeus Ropac reported advertising a primary-interval 1963 silkscreen for a somewhat modest $2.8 million at FIAC in 2021.
The 2019 sale was a thing of a watershed instant for Rauschenberg’s marketplace, and observed him overtake the $36 million report for his contemporary Jasper Johns (a further artist whose auction observe history has suffered from a lack of source). However, the late artist’s price ranges have but to attain the heights—or consistency—of friends such as Roy Lichtenstein (whose file stands at $95.4 million) or Andy Warhol ($105.4 million). And how extended it will just take for another top rated-tier example to surface on the current market is anyone’s guess.
A single detail is crystal clear: other parts of Rauschenberg’s oeuvre have loads of place to develop. The powerhouse gallerists working with the artist’s estate—Thaddaeus Ropac in Europe, Pace in the U.S., and Luisa Strina in Latin America—could enable that subject along in the coming decades (Ropac not long ago toured a team of grayscale metallic paintings from 1991 although Pace is pushing the artist’s late-job return to painting). So could the forthcoming 10-quantity catalogue raisonné, though the fact that it will not lengthen to drawings, prints, or other is effective on paper implies that the concentrate of the instant may well be elsewhere.
The later on works may perhaps also just want far more time to appreciate. Contemplate the market place for Picasso, whose late work—executed speedily and in superior volume—was for a lengthy time fewer desirable. To alter that, it took a number of important exhibitions and a new viewers of significant-close up to date artwork collectors who could more very easily draw parallels in between the late function and the de Kooning and Basquiats by now in their collections. Perhaps Rauschenberg’s late-profession obsession with media and technologies could obtain new takers in new potential buyers entering the industry now.
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