(IN BRIEF) A SPOTLIGHT ON:
Image via Barrons
WHO IS NARA?
Born in 1959, Yoshitomo Nara graduated from Aichi University of the Arts with a master’s degree in 1987, completing further studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, from 1988 to 1993, before settling in Cologne in 1994. This period of time was a pivotal influence on Nara, during which he began synthesizing Japanese and Western popular culture, as seen in Nachtwandern (1994), and when he arrived at his mature style, as seen in Pony Tail (1995) and Haze Days (1998). Nara’s paintings enact a fleeting presence between the figure and the ground—a result of several layers of paint in subtly varied if subdued pigments that he applies throughout the painting process—in which the figure pops out of or floats in a space that appears to exist outside the constraints of time.
In 2020, Nara’s popularity will only continue to soar. As reported by Artsy, an exhibition at Dallas Contemporary in September will showcase mostly new works, and a major monograph will be released through Phaidon this month to coincide with the opening of a significant retrospective at the LACMA show which opened in February. After the retrospective wraps in Los Angeles, it will travel to the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, the Guggenheim Bilbao, and the Kunsthal Rotterdam, putting Nara’s work in front of new audiences and in regions where he has not exhibited before.
On 6 November last year at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, Yoshitomo Nara’s painting ‘Knife Behind Back (2000)’ smashed his auction record and sold for just over £22 million (including buyer's premium). This wasn’t the first time a new auction record had been set for Nara in 2019 and was one of 15 lots that broke the £1 million barrier last year (v just 6 in 2018).
Yoshitomo Nara is now well and truly considered a blue-chip artist. Demand for his work at all levels, from significant paintings down to authorized open editions by the artist, continues to rise at a significant rate (Artprice report a 16.4% price increase in 2019 alone) as it attracts broad market appeal among collectors of all ages and nationalities.
“Nara’s work attracts both new and experienced collectors alike, so we find that his work has broad market appeal among collectors of all nationalities and categories,” said Evelyn Lin, head of Christie’s Asian 20th-century and contemporary art department.
Image via ArtPrice (17/04/2020)
HUW LOUGHER COMMENT:
'We are seeing an increasing number of enquiries and requests for Nara’s open edition and limited edition prints – in December 2017 I sold a Country Home woodcut to a client in South Korea for £17,500 – it would now be worth at least £30,000, giving that client a return of in excess of 70% in two years.'
'Nara is not a prolific artist so with increasing demand and limited supply, I anticipate similar price increases going forward.'
Huw Lougher - 17/04/2020
WHAT WORKS CAN WE OFFER?
We recently had the opportunity to acquire on of Nara’s iconic woodcut prints, titled Damm It All. It is sold in beautiful condition, and attractively priced at £29,500.
We appreciate that this is a significant amount of money so as ever we try and stock other works at a lower price point. Marching on a Butterbur Leaf is an offset print priced at £1,250 and is a fantastic entry point for those looking to enter the Nara market without breaking the bank.
Whilst at Lougher Contemporary we don’t read too much into one-off auction results as we believe it takes more than one result to set a new market value, for reference, one of these sold in Hong Kong (Sotheby’s) for 56,250HKD (or a touch under £6,000) on 15/04/2020.
We consider that these posters have reasonable investment potential as well and as a comparative, Nara’s Cosmic Girl (Eyes Shut, Eyes Open) will typically sell for between £5-10k now, up from £2-3k a few years ago. In fact the set of two offsets have sold for as much as £18,750 at Sotheby’s last August 2019, or more recently in the same sale at Sotheby’s early April 2020 at Sotheby’s for over £22,000.