Works to Buy this Week at Phillips: Head of Sale Simon Tovey on Highlights and Market Trends

Artsy Auctions
Dec 5, 2016 8:33PM

New Now showcases a comprehensive survey of both established names and coveted newcomers. In tandem with our continued partnership with Phillips, we spoke with Head of Sale Simon Tovey about personal highlights and opportunities for new and seasoned collectors.

Artsy: Can you start by describing your curatorial vision for the sale and walking us through some of your personal highlights?

Simon Tovey: When we are putting the sale together we want material which is as varied as the taste of our clients and their collections. For this sale, we want people to enter the gallery and see an eclectic group of works that are interesting, fun, accessible, and represent emerging artists as much as established names.

Courtesy of Phillips

ST (cont.): From a personal perspective I love the fact that we have a small charitable section supporting students from the ICA Moscow, made up of both current and past students from the institution, in the same auction as an abstract work by Gerhard Richter. What a fantastic range!

A: Are there any particular categories or media that you are seeing an especially high interest in this year?

ST: There continues to be a great selection of interesting process-based works on the market. In addition, we are seeing a strong interest in work that drives from more traditional media yet is no less stimulating. A good example is the playful KAWS sculpture that leads the sale: The artist’s language is rooted in cartoons, toys and popular culture, yet the work quite literally deconstructs these modes through a familiar aesthetic. It’s simultaneously playful and challenging, giving you a point of reference and making you question in equal measure.

A: This sale features a vast offering of “anchor” pieces for many collectors. What works would you consider to be classic examples of established artists’ oeuvre?

ST: The aforementioned Richter is a great example; however, there are also beautiful pieces by Tom Wesselman, Keith Haring, Oscar Murillo, David Ostrowski, Julian Opie, Sarah Lucas, Antony Gormley, Liam Gillick, Callum Innes, and Tracey Emin. These are all names which many may know and I am extremely pleased to say they feature within the New Now sale.

A: How about more unusual pieces or works by emerging or mid-career artists?

ST: There are some striking works by Angel Otero, Guy Yanai, and Torey Thornton, who are all emerging names, along with a work by Rafaël Rozendaal, which is the first example to come to auction.

A: Are there any surprising stories behind works you unearthed during the curation process?

ST: It’s always interesting to find work that draws links within an artist’s body of work — for instance, we have a great sculpture by Paul McCarthy full of references to his visceral, ground-breaking performance works. Equally, we have a monoprinted pillow case by Tracey Emin that evokes her embroidery and neon work and contrasts her seminal work, My bed, 1998.

A: What are some trends that you have seen within the contemporary art market this year and how do you see them playing out as we head into 2017?

ST: While the younger artists continue to produce evermore exciting works, there is a conscious shift in collectors looking at more established names. This has much to do with the access to information we now all have at our fingertips, which consequently creates an evermore educated and discerning collector. This shift is paralleled with artists doing exactly the same thing — which ultimately fuels this exciting world. We are all learning!

Explore Phillips: New Now on Artsy, and place max bids on more than 200 artworks. Live bidding opens in London on Thursday, December 8th, at 2:00pm GMT (9:00am EST). 

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