Works of art by European artists Wojciech Fangor and Lucio Fontana were the big draw of Sunday’s May 1 Modern & Contemporary Art auction. Wojciech Fangor’s M-62 headlined the sale and set a world auction record for the Polish/American artist. Co-creator of the Polish School of Posters, Fangor’s oil on canvas featuring his signature blurred circle with saturated colors surpassed the pre-sale estimate of $60,000-100,000 to fetch $310,000, exceeding the previous auction record of $221,000 set at Christie’s in September 2015.
Another highlight from the auction was “Concetto Spaziale” by Lucio Fontana, selling for $106,250. Perhaps best known for his punctured and slashed canvases of the 1950s, Lucio Fontana also worked extensively with organic materials like terracotta and clay from his earliest days as an artist. The substantial ceramic work sold on Sunday is just one of several by the artist to be offered at auction within the past few months.
“The robust prices realized for both of these pieces are on trend for contemporary works by European artists,” said Tim Malyk head of Modern & Contemporary Art. “The top five prices ever realized for Fangor have been achieved within the last year, including the world record set on Sunday at Freeman’s. Likewise, five of Fontana’s top ten prices were achieved in 2015, along with the auction record for the artist.”
A recent Bloomberg article attributes this increased focus on European artists to a broadening of collecting interests outside the realm of American artists, as well as a growing desire on behalf of collectors to seek new opportunities of concentration. Excellent examples by contemporary American artists can come with a high price tag, usually in the tens of millions. By contrast, great contemporary examples by European artists are available at relatively affordable prices.