Sign of change

Market rediscovery: Pierre Klossowski

Art Market | On October 10th, 2017, during the sale of Paul Lombard’s collection organized by Artcurial, Pierre Klossowski’s work The invisible possession (1973 - 1974) was sold for 156,000 €, seven times higher than its estimates, set between 18,000 and 25,000 €. This work, sold for the 1st time in 2008 for 17,214 €, reflects a shift in the art market’s interest towards this writer and artist, brother of Balthus, translator of Sade’s works, and highly considered by a group of connoisseurs for his literary and pictorial approach to sexuality.

Pierre Klossowski, La possession invisible, 1973-1974 adjugée le 10/10/17 par Artcurial pour 156.000 € (est. 18.000 - 25.000 €) © Artcurial
Pierre Klossowski, La possession invisible, 1973-1974 adjugée le 10/10/17 par Artcurial pour 156.000 € (est. 18.000 - 25.000 €)
© Artcurial

An analysis of the evolution of Klossowski’s works presented in auctions since 1989 illustrates two very different periods.
- Until 2015, the unsold rate reached 56% and it mainly concerned the works from the 1980’s (29 unsold lots out of 58) and the 1990’s (10 unsold lots out of 11).
- From 2016 on, there was a radical shift in the market. Despite a low number of works auctioned, only two out of nine lots are unsold : « Portrait de Louis René des forêts »  and « Les frères rouillés administrant une correction préalable à l’artiste » , both created around 1989.
The seven lots that were sold widely surpassed the initial high estimates, five of them belonged to the artist’s historical works : « Portrait de la femme de l’artiste tapant à la machine » (1957) sold for 71,100 € (estimates 15,000 - 20,000 €) and four artworks from the early 1970s including the artist’s current sales record : « La possession invisible » , (1973-1974) sold for 156,000 €.

After Klossowski’s death in 2001, his work gained institutional recognition in Europe. Several retrospectives have been devoted to his art in major museums such as the Whitechapel Gallery in London (2006), the Ludwig Museum in Cologne (2006) and the Centre Pompidou (2007). However, despite his posthumous notoriety, the artist’s auction sales did not improve significantly before 2016.

One of the main factors of the change of paradigm in Klossowski’s recognition was the conception of a catalogue raisonné on his work by dealer Lucien Belinelli. The Gladstone Gallery in New York, who represents recognized artists such as Keith Haring, Anish Kapoor, Sol Lewitt, Robert Mapplethorpe and Philippe Parreno, organized an exhibition of Klossowski’s work in December 2015, creating a point of inflection in the market.

Though it has only concerned the works from the 1970s, the upward trend in auction sales is expected to continue. Indeed, Pierre Klossowski has joined the primary market gallery Bortolozzi, alongside the recently discovered Maria Lai Archives and artist Carol Rama.

Vincent Kozsilovics
Publié le 16/12/2017
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Pierre Klossowski, La possession invisible, 1973-1974 adjugée le 10/10/17 par Artcurial pour 156.000 € (est. 18.000 - 25.000 €) © Artcurial

Pierre Klossowski, La possession invisible, 1973-1974 adjugée le 10/10/17 par Artcurial pour 156.000 € (est. 18.000 - 25.000 €)
© Artcurial

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