Belgian symbolist artist Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946) is 70 years after his dead ready for an international breaktrough. In a series of record price auctions Spilliaert is The new discovery.
Although Spilliaert is present in international collections like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, there is still a lot of work in hands of private collectors and art gallery’s. When you see Spilliaert you see the minimalism of Turner and the drama of Mapplethorpe. Frequently depicting a lone figure in a dreamlike space, Spilliaert’s paintings convey a sense of melancholy and silence. Spilliaert is relatively international unknown due to a lack of English articles.
Prices on the rice
In the period 2010-2015 early works of Léon Spilliaert where sold for 50.000 euro to 100.000 euro, but in June 2015 ’La buveuse d’absinthe’ from 1907 fetched 483.000 euro in a Sotheby’s auction (bought by Belgian Government Foundation King Boudoin for the Museum of Fine Arts) and in October 2015 ‘Selfportrait November 3’ fetched 741.000 euro.
Art experts are convinced Spilliaert is still one of the most underestimated artists of the previous century and today’s investors are ready to catch up.
The Hammershoi effect
In 2005 Michael Palin made a BBC-documentary on the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864 - 1916). This lead to the international discovery of the artist. His painting ‘Strandgade 30’ has sold for £1,7m at Sotheby’s London, acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, setting a new record for a Danish work of art at auction.
Especially Spilliaert’s early work is undervalued and has a significant upward potential. His most sought-after work is from 1900 until 1905 when he was 20 to 25 year old. In this period he paints in shades of gray, minimal intriguing and dark. His work is timeless and matches beautiful in contemporary interiors. After his marriage in 1916 he finds peace and happiness. His production increases, color sets in and trees are often the subject.
Belgium expert Anne Adriaens-Pannier, is ready to publish an elaborate catalog of the work of Spilliaert.
After 70 years of his dead and at the end of the copyright protection, Spilliaert has a potential to surprise tomorrow’s art scene.