A few points of reference
Takesada Matsutani belongs to a generation of artists who were born under Japanese militarism. Between the Second World War and the American occupation, he witnessed the deep mutations that affected all spheres of society, mainly the economic and cultural sectors. After a period of military control and censorship, in a country where everything was to be rebuilt, a wave of artistic effervescence arose.
- Matsutani first learnt traditional Japanese painting at the Municipal School of Arts and Crafts in Osaka, but was mainly a self-taught artist. At 22 he met one of Gutai’s founding members, artist Sadamasa Motonaga, who was his first contact with the Japanese avant-garde and post-war movement. Matsutani was initially kept apart from the group by Jirô Yoshihara, but he officially joined the movement in 1963 after going through a deep questioning of his artistic practice. The artist took part of every event organized by the Gutai group until its dissolution in 1972.
- At the age of 29, he won the Prize of the Franco-Japanese Institute of Tokyo and a scholarship to study 6 months in France. After traveling throughout Europe, he settled permanently in Paris and joined Stanley William Hayter’s l’Atelier 17 in 1967, becoming his assistant 2 years later.
- Takesada Matsutani’s sources of inspiration are diverse, from traditional Japanese culture to Western art. His involvement with the Gutai movement influenced his experiments with vinyl glue, one of his preferred materials; while his years at l’Atelier 17 extended his practice, introducing him to engraving and screen printing. During the late 1970’s he also started designing installations, mainly in situ.
- After participating in the collective exhibition A Visual Essay on Gutai at Hauser & Wirth New York (2012), the Zurich-based gallery started representing Matsutani, launching his first personal exhibition in London (2013). He simultaneously participated in Gutai : Splendid Playground at the Guggenheim Museum, an exhibition that represented a turning point in the recently acquired notoriety of Gutai artists in the global market.
Data on the market’s renewal
An analysis of the 243 lots auctioned between 2007 and 2018, all auction houses combined, reveals the recent renewal of Takesada Matsutani’s market.
In 12 years, his work’s sales reached a total of $3,092,336, with estimates ranging from $2,414,655 to $3,519,630, distributed in the following way :
- 87 lots sold above the high estimates, representing 36% of total sales;
- 89 lots sold for prices that corresponded to the estimates, 37% of total sales;
- 10 sales below the low estimates, 4% of total sales;
- 56 bought-ins, 23% of total sales.
The artist’s market can be divided in two distinct periods :
- Until 2011, his presence in auctions (in volume as in value) was low; the number of bought-ins was important and most sales did not exceed the $2,000 threshold.
- The signs of change observed in the market since 2012 are confirmed the following year : of 18 lots auctioned during 2013, there are no bought-ins and several sales surpass by far the high estimates; among them : Untitled (Paris) (2 works) (1986) sold for $22,500 (est. $1,000 - $2,000) ; Multiplication 65 (1965) sold for $99,199 (est., $14,561 - $19,415) and Work 65-W (1965) sold for $156,091 (est. $50,279 - $70,390).
Since then, Matsutani’s market has progressively grown and structured itself, with an increasing number of works offered in auction and a low and steady annual volume of bought-ins, representing between 0 and 24% of the total lots.
Most of the works that have been auctioned several times (at least 16 lots out of 21) show a price increase. The piece Work 65-K (1965) illustrates the progression of the artist’s popularity rating : sold in 2008 for $12,005, then in 2012 for $47,355 by Augur Auction, the painting was sold in 2015 by Christie’s Hong Kong for $159,985.
There has also been a significant interest among collectors towards Matsutani’s historical works, in the primary market as well as in the secondary market :
- When it comes to the auction market, works from the 1960’s represent only 13% of the total sales (32 of 243) ; however in terms of value they represent more than 50% of the total ($1,559,287 of $3,092,336). The artist’s ten highest sales concern works realized between 1960 and 1965, including the current record La Propagation Rouge - 1 (1965) sold by Shinwa Auction Co. on April 2016 for $229,789 (est. $229,789 - $367,663).
- During Hauser & Wirth’s major fairs, the most significant sales have also concerned works from the 1960’s. The pieces Work-B-62 (1962) and Propagation B (Gray) (1963) were sold for $450,000 and $475,000 respectively, during Frieze Masters 2016 and Art Basel 2017.
The current trend
Although the market’s interest for Takesada Matsutani’s work developed recently, the artist already counts with more than 170 solo exhibitions. His works have been displayed in prominent museums such as the Centre Pompidou, the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, the Guggenheim Museum and several Japanese institutions, including the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and the National Museum of Art in Osaka. In addition, several private collections have incorporated the artist’s work : Chase Manhattan Bank, Philip Morris, IBM France...
Furthermore, since 2013, Takesada Matsutani has been increasingly present in international events. Amongst his most important appearances, he was invited to realize an installation in situ at the 57th Venice Biennale Viva Arte Viva, conceived by Christine Macel. His future projects include an exhibition towards the end of 2018 at the Hauser & Wirth Somerset gallery.
The point of view of the Observatoire de l’Art Contemporain
Takesada Matsutani, leading figure of the Gutai’s second generation, is currently reflecting the market situation of several artists that also belonged to the Japanese movement : a late international recognition with sales mainly focused on works realized during the 1960s.
The involvement of the Hauser & Wirth gallery is closely related to the recent dynamism of Matsutani’s market. Since 2013, four solo exhibitions have been held in the Swiss gallery spaces : London, New York, Zurich and Los Angeles.
The coherence between the primary and secondary market, the artist’s presence in several public and private collections, as well as the constant rise of his popularity since 2013, suggests that the recognition of his work is not a passing tendency or a speculative movement but a growing trend that will persist.