Investment Pieces

Investment Hack: Collect Gagosian Artists—Affordably


Investment Hack: Collect Gagosian Artists—Affordably
Jonas Wood in his studio. Photo via Cultured Magazine. Portrait by Steven Perilloux.

Earlier this month, it was reported that mega-gallery Gagosian is restructuring and expanding, adding a new and separate advisory business spearheaded by Laura Paulson of Chritsies. Gagosian has always offered the "bluest" of blue chip art; this move could only further strengthen the oligopoly and solidify the gallery's dominance in the market, becoming what's been described as "the Amazon of the art world." But... Gagosian isn't the only place to source work by the artists they represent. Here on Artspace, collect affordable works by some of Gagosian's most coveted artists.




The market loves the seductive paintings of Cecily Brown, the demand for which has been soaring since 2017 (68 percent of hammer prices are above the auction’s high-estimate values, meaning that buyers are willing to pay above estimated value to grab her work.) Born in London in 1969, Brown appropriates styles from art history’s most famous (and male) masters from Rubens to de Kooning. By adding sexual narratives and figuration into her works, Brown transcends traditional notions of genre and gender to position painting tropes within new aesthetic contexts.




Before Facebook updates and impulsive tweeting, Tracey Emin was the original over-sharer. Her work, criticized decades ago for being too loud and personal, has become a celebrated feminist voice not afraid to speak up about issues like rape, abortion, and female sexuality. In a profile that came out earlier this year in the Financial Times, Emin is quoted saying, "I’m really pleased that women are really shouting out and coming to the foreground and not being afraid. I’ve been doing it all my life and I can show you reviews where they say ‘Tracey Emin is screaming again about rape’. Of course I’m screaming about rape. Why shouldn’t I be?” 




Jeff Koons has had countless exhibitions at Gagosian—a fitting partnership for an artist who's known for his entrepreneurial acumen, running his studio like the booming business it's become (he held the record for most expensive living artist until David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) shattered it in November with an auction price of $90.3 million). Here's how Gagosian describes the artist's work: "Jeff Koons rose to prominence in the mid-1980s as part of a generation of artists exploring the meaning of art and spectacle in a media-saturated era. With his stated artistic intention to “communicate with the masses,” Koons makes use of conceptual constructs—including the ancient, the everyday, and the sublime—creating luxurious icons and elaborate tableaux, which, beneath their captivating exteriors, engage the viewer in a metaphysical dialogue with cultural history."




Easily one of the highest selling artists on Artspace, Takashi Murakami creates characters that draw from traditional Japanese painting, sci-fi, and anime. Mr. DOB, a character the artist uses to represent himself, along with Murakami's other characters (like anthropomorphic flowers) act as icons and symbols of more complex themes like fantasy, technology, and violence. Murakami seamlessly works between the high and low, staging solo exhibitions at museums like the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, while also working with brands like Louis Vuitton to design handbags. Despite the breadth of his creations, Murakami works are always in high demand; his work has sold for over $15 million a piece.




Jonas Wood recently joined the big leagues, becoming represented by Gagosian, which currently hosts the artist's highly anticipated solo show in its West 24th Street, Chelsea location. Meanwhile, the Dallas Museum of Art presents the first major solo museum exhibition for the young artist, which "traces the artist’s fascination with psychology, memory, and the self to shed light on a practice that is both deeply personal and universal." (Wood's show at Gagosian is up until July 19, and at the Museum until July 14.) For the last several years, we've been describing the Los Angeles-based artist as steadily "on the rise" but at this point it's safe to say: Jonas Wood has risen. 




Though Michael Craig-Martin's work may have the cool contemporary feel of millennial culture, the artist's roots are deeply conceptual. A principal figure in the first generation of British Conceptual Art, Craig-Martin made a work in 1973, An Oak Tree, that's about as conceptual as it gets, positing that a glass of water is in fact an oak tree. (Read more about that fascinating—and puzzling—piece here.) Craig-Martin has had six solo shows at Gagosian since 2003, was an artist trustee of Tate from 1989 to 1999, and in 2006, was elected to the Royal Academy. In 2016, he was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honors for his services to art.




Artist Richard Wright is most known for his site-specific works that combine painting with graphic design. Wright won the Turner Prize in 2009; Sofia Karamani wrote about his work for the occasion: “Wright’s profound understanding of art and its history is reflected in his diverse imagery; minimalist patterns and baroque ornamentations to gothic iconography and typography. His wall paintings can occupy whole rooms, appearing convoluted and extensive, to create a sublime impact. Others, subtle and delicate, are awkwardly placed, claiming a modest existence on a ceiling, a cornice, the edge of a wall. As Wright invents alternative spatial arrangements, solid structures can look broken up, reconfigured, or seem transparent and fluid.”




Currently on view at Gagosian London is an exhibition of Gerhard Richter's overpainted photographs. Richter also inaugurated The Shed, the new arts center in Chelsea, with an exhibition in collaboration with composers Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt that "explore the shared sensory language of visual art and music," organized by star curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and The Shed's CEO Alex Poots. Born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany, Richter Richter "is known for his blurred paintings, modernising traditional art through technique, and using photography as his source of material," according to Gagosian. 




The American conceptual artist John Baldissari is arguably one of the most influential artists of his generation. Working primarily with found photography and appropriated imagery, he began in the sixties painting single phrases from art theory texts on large-scale canvases. In 1970, he disavowed these pieces by burning them in a piece titled The Cremation Project, a gesture that tested the boundaries of what can be considered art. Baldessari is perhaps now best known for his dot works, in which brightly colored adhesive dots are placed on over the faces of people in paintings and photographs. Baldessari has been the subject of over 200 solo shows in the U.S. and internationally, with major retrospectives at the Metropolitan, the Tate Britain, MOCA, and LACMA, among others. 


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