By now It’s been a big year for Peter Halley’s market and it’s still only April. The painter’s Yellow Cell with Triple Conduit (1956) was sold in London for a record price of £513m at Sotheby’s in early March, a sale that came as part of a spate of solid sales in the London Contemporary art auctions but also marks another sign of the prosperous market of the artist.
In fact, just few weeks later, in early April, we also saw a work estimated at £50k, Breakdown (above) sold for three times that price to make £150k with premium. All together, Halley’s work has totaled $1.6m so far this year putting his auction volume near all of 2017 with much of the selling season left to come.
In the Sotheby’s catalogue description of Yellow Cell with Triple Conduit we can read this statement by the artist:
“Where once geometry provided a sign of stability, order, and proportion, today it offers an array of shifting signifiers and images of confinement and deterrence.” – Peter Halley
We really hope that this today “shifting” signifiers and values won’t apply also to Halley oeuvre, but rather it will gain an established position in both the market and the culture.
Often characterized by bold palette, rigorous i formal language, and rich theoretical concept, Peter Halley’s works a powerful display of the artist’s post-modern geometric abstraction. It’s clear how his amalgamation of organigrams, computer and urban structures translated visually via a rigorous, abstract geometry is entrenched in the art historical tradition of Modernist painting. Halley appropriates the history of geometric abstraction via the formal language of such artists as Kazimir Malevich and El Lissitzky, through to Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko; So Halley deliberately cites the pantheon of Modernist painting, the chromatic choices, formal vocabulary, and textured surfaces of his own work are ultimately informed by an observation of societal structures and their environments. Therefore. also his use of these precedents is deftly couched in the cynicism and ironic tone of postmodernism, expressing the so-called Foucault “Crisis of Geometry“: his works are thus purposefully conceived in glowing, fauve neon colours, to strikingly visualise the power structures of modern-day society; ultimately Halley reveals how geometry is utilised as a societal tool of power and control.
Nevertheless, this kind of excitement isn’t entirely new to Halley’s market. And the timing of his previous market spikes is worth noting. There will be a steady growth or it will fall back again? Let’s see next auctions.
Suorce: Art Market Monitor