South African Art Market remains firm
Despite the turmoil experienced in the world’s economy in 2009, the year has proven that South African art has arrived on the international stage and can be considered as a sound investment.
The top end of the South African art market displayed considerable strength with Irma Stern’s Magnolias selling for R 7 241 000, a world record for a still life by Stern.
Showing this trend was no flash in the pan, Anton van Wouw’s sculpture Die Nooitjie van die Onderveld sold for R 946 900, the highest amount ever paid for a South African sculpture. These painting were sold at a recent auction of South African art by Bonhams in London.
Other South African old master artists also sold for the highest price ever, amongst them Wolf Kibel’s Self Portrait selling for R 1 225 400 and Jean Welz’s still life Cezannesque also selling for R 1 225 400. Maggie Laubsher achieved her highest ever amount for a painting and J.H. Pierneef’s paintings remain in demand and are escalating in value. Pierneef’s painting, The Baobab Tree holds the record for a South African painting at R 11.8 million (GBP 826 400).
However the secondary South African art market is taking strain with art galleries and artists suffering due to a lack of demand from art buyers. Some artists have experienced a 30 % drop in the price of their paintings compared to two years ago and are battling to find buyers. A respected art gallery closed its doors in Johannesburg recently and galleries from other parts of South Africa are battling to keep the ship afloat.
However auction houses like Strauss and Co as well as Bernadies are doing very well with Stauss having achieved record sales during 2009. This indicates that the reselling market is stronger than the “new painting” market at present.
There are less speculators buying art at the moment and it is the established artists whose painting are sought after by the buyers still in the market. This explains why artists like Gregoire Boonzaier, Gerald Sekoto, Amos Langdown and Alexis Preller are still selling for premium prices as buyers flee to proven quality. A Langdown oil under R 30 000 can be regarded as a good buy for a longer term investment.
An artist like Gabriel de Jong who is regarded as one of the masters of South African art, has seen little movement in the price of his paintings. The positive side is that there has not been a drop in value either and it may well be time to start investing in this South African landscape artist.
Other investment opportunities could be found in Errol Boyley who died in 2007. The value of his paining spiked in the past 24 months but seem to be pulling back a bit. Another artist where a bargain could possibly be found is Adriaan Boshoff whose work is now in demand internationally but prices seem to have stabilized at present. Boshoff is known as the best impressionist artist South Africa has produced.
Christiaan Nice paintings can also be found at reasonable values and Nice will be regarded as one of the masters of South African art in time to come. His paintings have been increasing in value for the past few years and will appreciate in the future. He is well known for his District 6 scenes and donkey carts.
Now is the time to buy art, no matter how tight the budget is for an astute art collector. Once the world recession ends, prices of painting will rise again. The trick is to buy right and invest in an artist who currently offers good value for money.
Philip Britz studied under Christiaan Nice and one can keep an eye out for one of his paintings. Britz paints rural landscape scenes as well as seascapes with the palette knife. He has painted some excellent District 6 scenes as well.
Should one be visiting Jeffreys Bay this summer, look out for art by the well known seascape artist Stephen Bibb who has recently started producing good oil paintings after working with acrylics for many years. Bibb is world renowned for his ocean inspired art and his paintings can still be obtained for reasonable prices.