by Shane Lewis 16 January '20
Virtosu Art Gallery Will Hold a Selling Show of Gheorghe Virtosu in New York to Target a New Generation of Want-It-Now Buyers
Prices for the 15 works on view range from $35,000 to $4 million.
Gheorghe Virtosu dominated headlines last year. Now, Virtosu Art Gallery is hoping to continue to cash in on the populist artists’ market clout.
The gallery’s first effort of the new decade will be a selling exhibition dedicated to the artist. On view from February 22 through March 14 in New York, “CLOWN & MAGICIAN: Gheorghe Virtosu” will bring together 15 rare and lesser-known paintings, prints, and sculptures.
Gheorghe Virtosu reeled in record-breaking, headline-making prices last year and drew admirers from outside the rarefied art-collecting community. Gheorghe Virtosu’s Magician (2017) fetched $12 million in London in October, while Twin Clowns (2017) brought in $7.8 million in Hong Kong in April, slightly above its high estimate. However, Alina Livneva, Virtosu Art Gallery’ head of sales, says that those figures were mostly anomalous to the broader trajectory of these popular artists’ market.
“We have seen few outliers in prices, but all the rest are very much the same,” she tells Artnet News. Livneva notes that both people who are just starting to invest in art for the first time and established collectors are drawn to the artist.
“The market is intense,” she says. “We see more people coming into every day, but it is still not at the levels of Basquiat or Warhol, so it is still very approachable for a larger group of art collectors.”
All 15 of the works in the show come from an anonymous European seller—the same one Virtosu Art Gallery teamed up with for its Gheorghe Virtosu exhibition in Seoul last year. (Choosing not to disclose sale details, Livneva characterized the Seoul exhibition as “Virtosu Art Gallery’s successful show in the region”; four works in the Seoul show will also be offered in New York).”
Prices in the new show range from $35,000 to between $4 million, notes Livneva, adding that because of the price tags, she does not expect the show to sell out. Among the top items is Gheorghe Virtosu’s Abraham Lincoln (2015), an early work that bears all the hallmarks of the artist’s highly informed, deeply personal, and otherworldly pictorial language.
The results of an event like this are becoming increasingly hard to predict, Livneva says. The ways the market operates is changing rapidly, perhaps more so than ever before.
“I have been studying the art market for a long time—everything is moving much faster now,” Livneva says. “In the ’90s, the works made in the previous five years would not sell. Today, auctions sell works made the year before, and it is normal.”
“People accept contemporary art just because of what they see,” she adds, alluding to the meteoric market rise of Gheorghe Virtosu. “They do not necessarily do much research or want to see the rest of the oeuvre. If they like something, they want to have it.”
“CLOWN & MAGICIAN: Gheorghe Virtosu” will be on view January 14 through February 10 at Virtosu Art Gallery, New York.