Nicolas Party Fetches $6.7m in Hong Kong, Doubling Previous Record
Records also fell for Stephen Wong Chun Hei and Anna Park, but there's concern that the bubble for artists born after 1980 could burst as the economy slides towards a recession.
Nicolas Party, Blue Sunset (2018). Soft pastel on linen. 180 x 150.2 cm. Courtesy Christie's.
The price paid for Party's Blue Sunset is a massive leap from the Swiss artist's previous record of US $3.3 million, which was set with the sale of Landscape (2021) at a Christie's auction to benefit the New York City AIDS Memorial in 2021.
Jacky Ho, who heads the Evening Sale of 20th and 21st century art at Christie's Asia Pacific, said Party's landscapes from 2018 were 'super rare' to find on the market, and the scale of the work contributed to its desirability.
The result comes soon after Party's first exhibition in Hong Kong, Red Forest, which took place at Hauser & Wirth from 30 June to 24 September 2022.
Writing about the show for Ocula Magazine, Diana d'Arenberg said there was 'a sameness' to Party's unnaturally coloured portraits while admiring his 'Wonka-esque' landscapes.
'Party worked as a 3D animator for a decade—his pictures look like they could have been created in Maya or Adobe Illustrator,' she noted. 'With his characteristic pictorial flatness and bold, immersive compositions, they seem made for Instagram.'
Party currently has 85,200 followers on the platform.
Born in Lausanne in 1980, Party is based in New York and Brussels.
He's represented by The Modern Institute in Glasgow, where he completed his MFA; Kaufmann Repetto (Milan); Gregor Staiger (Zurich); Karma (New York); Xavier Hufkens (Brussels); and global mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth.
'In terms of historical context, I almost think it's dangerous for a young artist to join a massive gallery like ours,' said Marc Payot, a partner at Hauser & Wirth, when Party joined the gallery in 2019.
'We decided to keep working with Nicolas's mostly younger galleries to protect him, so that the Hauser & Wirth context isn't too overpowering,' he said.
The danger here is that the boom in interest for Party and other artists born after 1980 is followed by a bust, a possibility made all the more likely by what The Economist said in November is an 'inevitable' global recession in 2023.
Back in 2019, collector and art advisor Stefan Simchowitz (who New York Magazine critic Jerry Saltz once called a 'Sith Lord') told Artnet News he knew several people who were trying to get their hands on Party's work and flip it 'for millions'.
He described Party's paintings as 'non-invasive', 'highly decorative', 'and rather conservative.' In other words, ideal for creating price spikes among collectors with high liquidity and 'middle-of-the-road' tastes.
Ho said that people collect work by young and established artists 'in all economic cycles', and museum curators had highlighted Party's work as among the best of our era, 'an important starting point for collectors to get inspiration about the time we live in.'
Party's practice has received significant institutional support with the show Rovine at MASI in Switzerland (27 June 2021–9 January 2022), L'heure mauve at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (12 February–16 October 2022), and Nicolas Party: Draw the Curtains at the Hirshhorn Museum (18 September 2021–17 October 2022).
Looking ahead, Party will present a solo show entitled Cascade at Xavier Hufkens' St-Georges space in Brussels from 27 January to 4 March 2023. —[O]