The Gutai movement, through the global market’s perspective
Art Market | In December 1954, in a country still shaken by the trauma of the Second World War, Jiro Yoshihara (1905-1972) founded the Gutai movement around a gathering of roughly fifteen young artists. The movement’s longevity and its members’ plastic proposals made it the driving force of the Japanese avant-garde and one of the pioneering artistic movements of the 20th century. Despite its well-established reputation on the international art scene, its impact on the art market has only been recent.
An analysis of auctions involving first generation Gutai artists is illustrative of a clear upward trend in terms of volume and value of sales, particularly since 2014. Of 87 lots by Shozo Shimamoto (1928-2013) at auction in the 2008-2013 period, 52 were bought-in (remained unsold) and 20 were sold under the low estimate. Just a few years later, between 2014 and 2015, a radical shift took place whereby 48 Shimamoto pieces were sold for a total amount of $5,385,921. Likewise, from 2014 to the present day, 86 lots by Atsuko Tanaka (1932-2005) were auctioned for in excess of $13 million. This is well above the 2008-2013 period, when 72 lots by the same artist were sold for around $2 million.
In the image of the sales records made by the Kazuo Shiraga (1924-2008) pieces ‘Gekidou Suru Aka’ (1969) and ‘BB56’ (1977) – sold respectively by Sotheby’s Paris for $5,320,120 and by Christie’s New York for $4,869,000 – we have witnessed a rush towards historical works from the 1960s and 1970s. This can be seen in the work of Sadamasa Motonaga (1922-2011) of this period, all of which we have seen sold at auction for amounts above $200,000. Another revealing illustration of this trend is the rising prices of works that have been presented several times at auction over the years, irrespective of the Gutai artist. ‘White Circle’ (1969) by Jiro Yoshihara, for example, was sold in 2008 by Shinwa Art Auction for $61,062, and then resold in 2012 for $208,320 (reaching a rate of change of +241%).
Furthermore, we are witnessing a growth in leading exhibitions of the Gutai movement. Recent examples of this are “A Visual Essay on Gutai” at Hauser & Wirth New York and “Gutai : A Splendid Playground” at the Guggenheim Museum. The rising presence of Gutai artwork in international museums and galleries seems to be correlated with the recent awakening of the art market towards what is one of the founding movements of contemporary art.
This article is a summary of a qualitative and quantitative study conducted for the Observatoire de l’art contemporain. The complete analysis is available on request.
Publié le 12/11/2016
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