Brazilian Art Market at NY Auctions

In the brightly-lit halls and expectant atmosphere of the much-anticipated Spring Auctions in New York in 2024, Brazil made its presence felt.Among the notable highlights, Brazilian works of art captured the imagination and pockets of the most demanding collectors. The presence of contemporary Brazilian artists brought freshness and vitality to the international art scene. Works by names such as Tunga or Marina Perez Simão reflect the cultural diversity and innovation that characterize Brazilian contemporary art.In short, Brazil's rich art scene presents an intriguing mix of modernist classics and emerging talent. However, it also serves as a reminder that success in the global art arena requires more than just talent; it demands recognition, inclusion and a deep understanding of market dynamics.


Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale – 14 MAY

Reflecting the seismic shifts in the art scene at the end of the 20th century, this auction features masterpieces from the 1980s to the visionary expressions of today’s leading creators. This season’s highlights feature landmark pieces by international artists, but include fewer Brazilian artworks than last year, with only 2 pieces.

Let’s also mention Vojtěch Kovařík, although he is not Brazilian, he is represented by Mendes Wood Gallery, which has a prominent presence in the national market. His painting titled Hercules with Head in Hand, created in 2023, was sold for a grand total of $75.000. Last year, Aphrodite set the auction record for the artist, selling for$378.000 at Christie’s New York.

(Portrait of) Hercules with his head in his hand, 2023
Acrylic, sand/canvas
80 x 70 cm
Estimate: $40.000 – $60.000

The artwork Untitled, 2020, by Marina Perez Simão, was sold well above its estimated price for $280.000.

Marina Perez Simão
Untitled, 2020
Oil on canvas
160 x 200 cm
Estimate: $80.000 – $120.000

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale17 MAY

The Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale featured a selection of works of art from the post-war period to the present day. With pieces by renowned and emerging artists, including Brazilian artist Francisco ‘Chico’ da Silva.

The work of artist Chico da Silva who explores stories of Brazil’s indigenous and popular cultures sold for $30.000.

Francisco ‘chico’ Da Silva
Untitled, 1973
Oil on canvas
86 X 137 Cm
Estimate: $40.000 – $60.000

Sotheby’s auctions  presented an extraordinary selection of the most acclaimed Brazilian artists including works from Sergio Camargo to Adriana Varejão and Lucas Arruda each piece serves as a unique thermometer to gauge the Brazilian Secondary Market’s pulse.

The Now Evening auction focuses on the art of our time, offering the most interesting and cutting-edge works on the market and providing a masterpiece context for both well-established and newly-canonical artists.

Laparotomia Exploratória, a historical artwork from Adriana Varejão‘s Visceral series dating back to 1996, sold for the low estimate, reaching a final amount of $635.000. It’s worth noting that this series of pieces is highly sought after by discerning collectors. However, the demand for them is lower compared to her recent decorative series of Azulejos, reflecting a market that prioritizes works devoid of intellectual complexity and provocation

Adriana Varejão
Laparotomia exploratória I, 1996
Oil on canvas with epoxy paste
220 x 190 cm
Estimate: $500.000 – $700.000

Bicho sculpture by Lygia Clark was withdrawn from the auction and this wasn’t following a request from Mundo de Lygia Clark. Let’s not forget that two other artworks from Emiliano Di Cavalcanti initially presented in the catalog, were also withdrawn for authenticity issues.

Lygia Clark
Bicho, 1960-1962
40 x 40 x 35 cm
Estimate: $400.000 – $600.000

It was the first time that one of the most Iconic artwork from Tunga, Pente, 1994 sculpture, was presented at auction after the artist passed away. With one of the most highly valued estimates ever of $200.000 – $300.000 the sale was a success reaching a value of $254.000 with Buyer Premium setting a new record for the artist.

Pente, 1994
93 x 145 x 15 cm
Estimate: $200.000 – $300.000

This immersive installation Balanco em U from Ernesto Neto providing a sensorially engaging environment, which was curiously not on show during the exhibition also went withdrawn from the auction.

Ernesto Neto
Balanço em U, Ventre, Ponto e Linha, 2012
Polypropylene and polyester string crochet, with polyethylene balls
400 x 350 x 390 cm

The most surprising record of the auction was earned by Antonio Oba, represented by Mendes Wood. The artist explores the relationships of contradictions within the cultural construction of Brazil. Initially estimated between $60.000 to $80.000, the artwork fetched an impressive $228.600. It’s noteworthy that the artist’s work is included in international collections like La Bourse de Commerce of François Pinault.

Antonio Obá
Sankofa – Figura Com Alpargata, 2020
Oil on canvas
89 x 90 cm
Estimate: $60.000 – $80.000

Camargo’s exploration of form, space, and texture showcases his mastery of geometric abstraction. The utilization of painted wood brings a dynamic element to the artwork, immersing the viewer in a visually stimulating experience.

Relief Opus 194 by Sérgio Camargo sold for $190.500 below the low estimate confirming the artist’s loss of speed and liquidity for medium-sized works.

Sérgio Camargo
Relief Opus 194, 1961
Painted wood construction
58 x 36 x 5 cm
Estimate: 250.000 – 350.000

Tribute to Brancusi, 1973 invites viewers to contemplate the enduring legacy of Brancusi‘s infinite column while recognizing Camargo‘s own innovative contributions to the art world. The sculpture dated from 1973 was sold for $101.600.

Sérgio Camargo
Tribute to Brancusi, 1973
Painted wood construction
96 x 54 x 19 cm
Estimate: $100.000 – $150.000

The artist’s No. 167, a small yet significant work created in 1967, also sold for $69.850.

Sérgio Camargo
No. 167, 1967
Painted wood construction
17 x 15 x 7 cm
Estimate: $25.000 – $35.000

In this early painting, Arruda evokes a sense of serene atmosphere and introspection fetched a remarkable $127.000. This outcome is quite surprising, considering that the painting differs significantly from his iconic pieces currently on display at the David Zwirner Gallery, where artworks are not available for sale, likely stimulating demand at auctions.

Lucas Arruda
Untitled XXII, 2011
Oil on canvas 
18 x 24 cm
Estimate: $60.000 – $80.000

Through her use of oil paint, Marina Perez Simão explores the interplay of color, texture, and form, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the atmospheric qualities of the painting. The final selling price of Untitled, 2021 surpassed the maximum estimated amount, reaching $95.250.

Marina Perez Simão
Untitled, 2021
Oil on canvas
50 x 60 cm
Estimate: $40.000 – $60.000

O pajé curando tabaco marks the artist’s debut in an international auction, although the artwork did not find a buyer initially, it was relisted during the auction and sold for $88.900.This kind of Iconical pieces of the artist are supposed to sell around $100.000 in private sales showing that the demand was slightly.

Jaider Esbell
O pajé curando tabaco, 2020
Acrylic and posca paint marker on canvas
67 x 75 cm
Estimate: $80.000 – $120.000

Abraham Palatnik‘s HO-A Progression, is a work that exemplifies his innovative approach to kinetic art creating a dynamic interaction between color, and the wood form and movement went unsold.

Abraham Palatnik
Progressão HO-A, 1965
Jacaranda veneer on panel
102 x 89 cm
Estimate: $80.000 – $120.000

Anna Maria Maiolino, who just won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale sold a typical painting from Ações Matéricas Series dated of 2005 for $76.200.

Anna Maria Maiolino
Untitled (from Ações Matéricas), 2005
Acrylic on canvas, in 2 parts
160 x 118 cm
Estimate: $40.000 – $60.000

The title Murundum/Stone Cemetery suggests themes of transformation and decay, inviting viewers to contemplate the passage of time and the cyclical nature of existence. The artwork fetched a total of $44.450 remaining within the expected estimate.

Erika Verzutti
Murundum/Stone Cemetery, 2013
Cobblestone, clay, concrete and stones
85 x 230 x 40 cm
Estimate: $40.000 – $60.000

Valentim’s distinctive geometric style is apparent, featuring strong lines, vibrant hues, and symbolic patterns influenced by Afro-Brazilian heritage. The emblema of Rubem Valentim sold for only $31.750. Such pieces reach between $50.000 to $60.000 in private sales.

Rubem Valentim
Emblema-87, 1987
Acrylic on canvas
35 x 50 cm
Estimate: $50.000 – $60.000

One of Chico da Silva’s gouache paintings didn’t sell, while the other fetched the surprising sum of $25.400, a significant drop from his previous record of $330.200 with Serpente da Serra Luminosa a work measuring 119 x 203 cm and featured in the Venice Biennale.

The resolution of the authenticity issues that surround the artist might become significantly easier, since Galleria Galatea announced on May 13, 2024, that it will represent Chico da Silva and provide an official opinion on his authenticity.

Chico da Silva
Sem título, 1965
Gouache on paper
76 x 112 cm
Estimate: $25.000 – $35.000

Chico da Silva
Serpente da serra luminosa, 1966
Gouache, paper, masonite
119 x 203 cm

The detailed close-up of Muniz’s recreation of Hercules and Omphale by Lemoyne was sold for only $12.065, well below expectations.

Vik Muniz
Hercules and Omphale (Detail), after François Lemoyne (from Pictures of Junk), 2007
Chromogenic print
124 x 101 cm
Estimate: $20.000 – $30.000

Within the Brazilian art market, our focus were selected Chico da Silva, Sonia Gomes, and Marina Perez Simão. Their artwork has gained recognition both nationally and internationally, contributing a distinct element to the cultural diversity showcased at this event.

Chico da Silva, Untitled, 1975 was sold slightly above the maximum expected estimate at a value of $63.500.

Chico da Silva
Untitled, 1975
Oil on canvas
67 x 148 cm
Estimate: $50.000 – 60.000

This mixed media sculpture, towering at a height of over five feet, exudes a commanding presence and exemplifies Gomes’ enduring fascination with utilizing found materials to create intricate and organic installations but went unsold.

Sonia Gomes
Raízes series #1, 2020
Tree trunk, fabric, mirror and nylon thread
159 x 93 x 34 cm
Estimate: $140.000 – $180.000

Marina Perez Simão‘s large scale canvas created in 2020, fetched an impressive $120.650, particularly notable for not such a quality artwork.

Marina Perez Simão
Untitled, 2020
Oil on canvas
144 x 134 cm
Estimate: $100.000 – $150.000

The medium-sized watercolor on paper went unsold.

Marina Perez Simão
Untitled, 2021
Watercolor on paper
41 x 31 cm
Estimate: $12.000 – $18.000

Bonhams 20th / 21st Century Art Evening Sale, featuring exceptional examples from some of the leading artists of the Modern, Post-War and Contemporary periods, including the work of the Brazilian artist Marina Perez Simão.

Marina Perez Simão also made a notable impression at the Bonhams sales, with Untitled, 2021 selling for an impressive $178.300 during the 20th/21st Century Art Evening Sale.

Marina Perez Simão
Untitled, 2021
Oil on canvas
50 x 40 cm
Estimate: on request

We can thus conclude that, overall, the sales of Brazilian artists this year have been far from thriving or reassuring, given the significant number of withdrawn lots. This scenario casts doubt on the authenticity of certain pieces and questions the proficiency of international auction houses as authorities in Brazilian art. The Brazilian art market is highly specific and relatively young, with insufficient regulatory oversight. It is crucial to engage experienced specialists in Brazil who are too often overlooked.

Similarly, we observe that the most notable results have been achieved by ultra-contemporary artists supported by influential national galleries and international mega galleries, reflecting the global trend favoring ultra-contemporary art speculation. 

Unfortunately, the Indigenous art scene loses its luster quickly when we realize that the overvaluation of artists like Jaider and Chico Da Silva does not withstand the scrutiny of the barometer of international auction sales.

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