Taking a Look at Raymond Pettibon’s Potent Market
The artist's stock is rising.
With his most comprehensive retrospective to-date on view at New York’s New Museum through April 9, and upcoming exhibitions at Deichtorhallen Hamburg in Germany, and David Zwirner’s gallery in New York, interest in Raymond Pettibon is at an all-time high. But how is the buzz affecting his market? Let’s take a look.
Pettibon’s work addresses the themes of art history, literature, sports, religion, politics, and sexuality, stylized in a rough-and-ready, freehand DIY aesthetic that is influenced by the Southern California punk rock culture of the late 1970s and 1980s.
The artist is primarily known for his cartoony drawings reflecting American culture, and it is these works that perform the best at auction, according to the artnet Price Database. Pettibon’s record price was set at Christie’s New York in May 2013 when his drawing No Title (The Lower Half…) (2013) was sold for $1.575 million. One other work has surpassed the $1 million point, while 19 works have sold in the six figure range, indicating a very healthy market for an artist working primarily on paper.
“Pettibon’s works are extremely collectible,” Alexander Berggruen, specialist for post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s told artnet News in an email. “They brilliantly tread the line between house-able and viscerally pleasing, while also irreverent, provocative, and challenging in many others ways.”
The specialist explained that a flurry of recent institutional and gallery exhibitions is driving the market. “Key museums, galleries, and collectors have taken interest in Pettibon’s most sought-after work and the recent surge in strong exhibitions and buying appetite at these levels seems to further fuel interest in the artist’s market at most types and value points,” Berggruen said.
Works that reflect the artist’s West Coast aesthetic, for which he is best known, are the most popular among collectors. According to artnet’s Price Database, Pettibon’s quintessentially Californian surfing pictures are the most in demand, with seven of his top 10 selling lots at auction depicting surfing and the ocean. Scale also plays an important role in terms of desirability, with large drawings outperforming comparable smaller pieces.
“I would consider Pettibon’s market steady for his most accessible works on paper,” Berggruen said. “Specifically those with less hallmark motifs and more intimate scale, while quite strong for the most desirable portion of his output, most notably his surfers/waves, baseball players, and prime early works (large-scale graphic black-and-white examples from the 1980s, for instance).”
“Bidding fervor for the very top of the artist’s market remains potent,” he concluded.
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