Willem de Kooning, Untitled XXII, 1977

After confirming the collectors’ renewed interest in figurative art, the results of the latest international auctions suggest that sculpture, too, is alive and kicking, and can be thus considered a good form of investment. Recent catalogues reveal that auction houses have offered a great number of sculptures for sale, works by both great artists and sculptors who have not entered art history yet, but who already have a reliable curriculum. Let’s start with Lucio Fontana. We are used to see his Tagli setting great records, but we also know that this artist was able to develop his experimentations with Spatialism in at least three different directions: neon lights, canvases (or works that can be related to the concept of “painting”) and sculptures. On their turn, his sculptures can be divided into informal (those that are made of enamelled ceramic) and those that relate to the concepts of Spatialism. In order to better understand what has recently happened around the works, look at these results: a 1967 silver bracelet (15.40×6.70 cm) was sold for EUR 125,300 at Dorotheum in Vienna, a 1965 enamelled, egg-shaped terracotta with a cut and holes (Concetto spaziale, 20×38 cm) went for EUR 336,500 at Sotheby’s in Milan, and a 1950 polychrome ceramic (Crocifissione, 52×25 cm) was sold for EUR 487,500 at Il Ponte in Milan. To these three works, which all went for prices that exceeded the maximum estimates by auction houses, we should add Concetto spaziale, Natura, a 1959 coated bronze with a cut (78.80×83.20 cm) which was sold for EUR 2,855,000 at Sotheby’s in London, a price that remained slightly below expectations. Recently, a number of sculptures by Leoncillo, the sculptor who, probably most of all, deepened and widened Fontana’s experimentations with ceramic, went for hammer prices that exceeded the maximum estimates.

In particular, this is the case with Taglio, a 1961, 59.50 cm high enamelled ceramic that went for EUR 210,500 at Christie’s in London, and San Sebastiano Bianco, a 1962, 115 cm high enamel and ceramic work that was sold for EUR 468,500 at Sotheby’s in Milan. Another sculptor rewarded by the market is Arnaldo Pomodoro; many of his bronze multiples are auctioned, but prestigious collectors are certainly more interested in the sculptor’s unique pieces. Over the last period, Pomodoro’s Sfera con Sfera, a 1981 work with a diameter of 20 cm (there exist 9 pieces) went for EUR 112,800 at Dorotheum in Vienna, whereas a 262 cm high Column (he created two of them) was sold for EUR 287,700 at Christie’s in London.

Roberto Capitanio

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