Surrealist art market ripe for upswing?

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Karen Knapstein

About Karen Knapstein

Karen L. Knapstein is Print Editor for Antique Trader. A lifelong collector and student of antiques, she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Joseph, and daughter, Faye.
This from Nicholas Forrest of ArtMarketBlog.com:

The Rise of the Value of Surrealism

There is no doubt that Surrealism is a highly undervalued and under
appreciated movement that has the potential for a significant increase
in desirability and value in the not too distant future for reasons
that I will explain later on. The most famous Surrealist artist would
have to be Salvador Dali with the other major Surrealist painters being
Jean Arp, Max Ernst, André Masson, René Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Pierre
Roy, Paul Delvaux, and Joan Miró. It is interesting to note that if you
go to google and search for “dali auction record” (with quotation
marks) you get no results but if you search for “warhol auction record”
you get 47 results or if you search for “picasso auction record” you
get 29 results. Even more interesting is the fact that the auction
record for Picasso is US$104 million dollars and the auction record for
Warhol is US$71 million dollars whereas the auction record for Dali is
a mere US $3.6 million dollars. Is Dali any less important or an less
talented than Picasso or Warhol? The other Surrealists don’t fair much
better with Andre Breton, the father of the Surrealism movement,
managing an auction record of US$3 million and most of the other major
players achieving around the same prices for their Surrealist works
with a few exceptions.

The most successful of those artists who dabbled in Surrealism based on
the value of their work would have to be Joan Miro who has a current
auction record of $16.7 million for the work ‘La caresse des étoiles’.
According to the Christie’s catalogue entry for this work “It is a 20th
century masterwork in the most profound sense, for in addition to its
exceptional pictorial qualities as a work of art, it offers
illuminating insight into the tragic drama of modern history in which
it was created”. The phenomenal price achieved for ‘La caresse des
étoiles’ can, however, be attributed to the history and provenance of
the work, it’s cultural and historical significance as well as the fact
that Miro chose not to become a fully fledged member of the Surrealist
movement in order to remain free to experiment with other styles. For
these reasons the price achieved for ‘La caresse des étoiles’ could be
considered to be anomalous.

The main reasons that Surrealism has failed to achieve the same success
as other art movements is that Surrealism is relatively ambiguous, ill
defined and difficult to understand which make the works much less
attractive. Also, many of the artists who produced work that is
considered to be Surrealist were not solely dedicated to the pursuits
of the Surrealist movement and did not adhere to the rules and
regulations of the movement which makes the task of contextualising
Surrealist artworks even more difficult. According to the Encyclopaedia
Britannica “The work of these artists is too diverse to be summarized
categorically as the Surrealist approach in the visual arts. Each
artist sought his own
means of self-exploration”

Surrealism is, however, beginning to receive the attention and respect
that it deserves which is being reflected in the market for Surrealist
works.

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