At every major fair, there tend to be a few artists whose work just seems to be everywhere
. This week at Art Basel in Basel, none may be more ubiquitous than septuagenarian Chicago-based artist McArthur Binion. The fair, which coincides with a major solo show of his new paintings at Lehmann Maupin’s New York headquarters, has seen his work fly off the walls of at least three booths. On the first day of previews, Lehmann Maupin sold his painting Modern:Ancient:Brown
(2021), which features his trademark gridded pattern of alternating squares of color, overlaid atop copies of the artist’s birth certificate, for $300,000 to prominent collectors based in Germany. Chicago’s Richard Gray Gallery
also sold a 2021 Binion painting titled Modern:Ancient:Brown
, which was priced at $300,000. And Italy’s MASSIMODECARLO
sold one of the artist’s recent works on paper, healing:work
(2020), for $30,000.
This week’s sales are in keeping with the top end of the secondary market for Binion’s work, where his pieces have only surpassed the $100,000 mark five times. All five of those results have been in the last three years. In May of this year, his large, monochromatic square composition with a circle set against his characteristic grid, DNA: Black Painting: III (2015), sold for $300,000 at a Christie’s day sale in New York. That price was double the work’s high estimate and smashed Binion’s previous auction record.
His works on paper, to date, have topped out at $15,600, about half of the price of the work sold this week by MASSIMODECARLO. On Artsy, demand for his work surged in 2017—the year he was included in the central exhibition at the Venice Biennale and had his first solo show with the Italian gallry—with the number of collectors inquiring about his work on the platform nearly tripling from 2016. With one quarter to go, this year is already his biggest on the platform.