In general, an artist’s work rises in price because, beyond talent, he or she has savvy dealers, influential collectors, curatorial support, or critical buzz. But sometimes a whole country endorses your art.
Xavier Veilhan, born 1963, will represent France at the Venice Biennale in May. A global bellwether for contemporary art trends, the event held at the Italian city’s huge and leafy Giardini invites dozens of countries to exhibit art in national pavilions, some of which have been standing for more than a century.
France’s pick—Veilhan—nosed out 23 competitors for the honor. He is well known for sculptures that look like 3-d cubist paintings and for striking mobiles. His artworks suggest and embrace motion. In Italy, his Biennale work will be a music studio with instruments/sculptures specially created for the installation.
The artist is co-represented by Galerie Perrotin, one of Europe’s most powerful art dealerships, as it also reps Takashi Murakami and Maurizio Cattelan, among others. A Perrotin party—usually a very fancy affair indeed—will often include music-industry celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Pharrell, Swizz Beatz, plus an occasional billionaire or two. So expect Veilhan’s pavilion to become a buzzy hangout in Venice, and for his renown to grow.
“Who’s Jonas Wood?” That was the question some people, craning their necks and confused, were asking themselves in the Sotheby’s London showroom one night last year. The artist’s 2010 painting Studio Hallway zoomed out of the gate with bids quickly climbing from £45,000 to a new record of £365,000.
Among the people who didn’t have to ask “Who’s Jonas Wood?” was Leonardo DiCaprio, who reportedly started collecting the artist’s work a couple of years earlier. Indeed, West Coast painter Wood is a favorite of the Hollywood celebrity set, in part because of his laid-back California aesthetic. Think David Hockney meets a brighter color palate, with vivid green plants and basketball players subbing for Hockney’s pools and swimmers.
You know a Wood work when you see one: rooms crunched in with detail, without seeming claustrophobic, portraits of people with plain, real faces; it all feels relaxed, American, very 21st century. The powerhouse dealers behind him include Los Angeles’ David Kordansky plus Larry Gagosian. Galerie also gives props to dealer Marianne Boesky for featuring Wood, born 1977, early on in a group show.
Well-liked in both the art and collector community—a rarity—Wood has had a considerable amount of success already, with a solo show at the Hammer Museum of UCLA in 2010.
Collectors who fall for Wood’s work now are not quite on the ground floor. But the good news is “flippers” who are putting his work on the auction block may keep the lid on prices for a while. In the art market, it’s a delicate balance between overexposure and exclusivity. There’s no guarantee prices are going up, but how many 30-something artists’ work is already in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art?