Has the Market for ‘Zombie Formalists’ Evaporated?

“No one wants to be a market darling,” an art dealer once told me.

It’s the art world equivalent of a one-hit wonder, where sudden stardom and outsize demand for a particularly hot artist creates intense pressure, and has the potential to create unsustainable spikes in his or her market and career.

Notwithstanding the fact that the particular dealer who told me this represented several certified market darlings, the recent round of mid-season New York contemporary auctions. “New Now” at Phillips on September 17, “Contemporary Curated” at Sotheby’s on September 29, and “First Open” at Christie’s on September 30 all featured a healthy sampling of buzzed-about names.

Prior to Phillips new “New Now” sale, specialist Rebekah Bowling told theNew York Times: “There seems to have been a bit of a cooling and hopefully that means we’re heading toward a market that’s more sustainable.”  Following the sale we asked Bowling for her thoughts on the overall auction: “I believe this means that we’re returning to a more rational market with less speculative activity,” she said via email.



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