The news out of Hong Kong has been solid so far, even if it continues the trend of meeting or beating lowered expectations. After a year of abuse, I think art collectors, gallerists and the artists themselves are eager for any good news they can claim. September was rough, according to ArtPrice, "with no room for over-bidding or risk-taking." There was only one contemporary artist, Andy Warhol, who has met expectations, so far.
But, there's room for hope: Jitish Kallah.
Kallah's only 35 years old. Born in Bombay, his work has been described by ArtPrice as "crisis-immune." The market for contemporary Indian art has been in a hard way, with the Christie's South Asian Modern & Contemporary auction last month bringing in only $5.1 million in sales – where the presale estimate was $5.6 million. Yet, Kallah's work set a new record, with "Dawn Chorus – 7" going for $320,000 and beating its high-end estimate by a factor of three.
Meanwhile, Warhol continues to deliver. A piece from his "Flower" series in 1964 went for $895,000 at Christie's in late September and a "Cambell's Soup Can (Tomato Soup)" fetched $310,000 a day later at Sotheby's.
So, we have fear and hope in October. This week, both Sotheby's and Christie's will hold auctions in the photography segment, with Phillips de Pury following next week. And, there are London sales coinciding with the Frieze Art Fair.
Let's see if art collectors are ready to dress their walls again.