Sotheby’s has unexpectedly become the most promising possibility for Latin American art in the auction rooms. In a long-awaited decision, the auction house has announced it will integrate Latin American art into its contemporary auction sales in New York – starting this Autumn.
Offering lots of Latin American artists in the mainstream auction sales is not unprecedented, though. Most recently, at the May Contemporary Art Evening sales, Mira Schendel’s Untitled from the series Droguinhas (Little Nothings) (1966), and Sergio Camargo’s Untitled (Relief No. 19/46) were sold for $1.5 million. And, these are just two examples of many others that have sold in previous seasons.
So, then what is new and exciting about this move?
Responding to the challenges of today’s auction business
This announcement sets a new strategy for the auction house – one of many taken by the company over the past two years, under the leadership of Tad Smith. It is a shift from an established practice dating back to the foundation of their Latin American Art Department in 1979. However, it does not represent a complete break. The Latin American team will continue to source the lots that will be on offer at the Contemporary auction sales; and we could also assume that lots benefitting from this “upgrade” will be those from blue-chip artists in the race for the million-and-above price tags.