“There is this mid-career plateau for artists, and they get sorted out and some end up masters and some, well, disappear. The question is: Are you a star, or a comet?” said Todd Levin of the Levin Art Group.
At the recent auctions, of wthe ork from the 50-somethings, Mark Tansey’s Push/Pull was fought over by bidders, and it soared up to $3.2 million, setting a new record for the artist. Similarly, Mr. Wool’s Blue Fool sold for $5 million, more than doubling his existing record, although other Wools sold less spectacularly. (The record makes Mr. Wool more expansive than Joseph Cornell.) But one dealer growled, “Flavor of the month.”
Missing from these sales almost completely were works by Mr. Halle, Mr. Schnabel (now better known as an Oscar-nominated director) and Mr. Bleckner, once perhaps the single hottest artist in New York. Fluke or shift in taste?
Mr. Levin cautions artists who may seem to be temporarily “out” to just keep their head down and continue to do good work. “In the ’70s, Bruce Nauman had a hot hand, and then in the ’80s these guys came in-Salle, Bleckner, et cetera-and Leo [Castelli] kept a box of Nauman videos under his desk and you couldn’t give them away. You could have had anyone of them for $50,000. Now, Nauman’s considered a master and those $50,000 videos are $1 to $2 million-or more.”
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