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Art Market Italy

Art Market Italy: Dylan Dog comics at Little Nemo

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Monday, 14 July 2014 13:29

Bruno Brindisi, ‘Dylan Dog,’ Vol. 1, ‘L'alba dei morti viventi – Jack lo squartatore – Le notti della luna piena.’ Courtesy Little Nemo, Turin.

TURIN, Italy – Good results for the exhibition "Dylan Dog in Turin - Bruno Brindisi and Fabio Civitelli," organized by Turin-based auction house and art gallery specialized in comics Little Nemo, once again confirms the popularity of this character in Italy.

For the occasion, in fact, Little Nemo has created a portfolio with the five most beautiful covers of the show printed on fine paper in an edition of 99 priced at 60 euros ($82), which was immediately sold out. "We could have made three times as much," the director Sergio Pignatone said. "It is a confirmation that all the merchandising products around the figure of this Italian comic hero is very sought-after."

The character Dylan Dog, a "nightmare investigator" struggling against the paranormal, is interesting in the history of comics because it has been able to reach a very wide audience, including women, and greatly expand the market. The character’s debut in 1986 (it was already in the drawer for a couple of years) was a turning point for the publishing house Sergio Bonelli Editore, which before was known for comics such as Tex, Zagor and the Little Ranger. Along with the comic book Martin Mystère, born in 1982, Dylan Dog has managed to rejuvenate the publisher.

It was born from the mind of Tiziano Sclavi, who was already working for Bonelli Editore, and initially met Sergio Bonelli's hesitation because it was a horror comic. The quality, however, was so high that the project was launched, and within 30-40 issues it became an epochal phenomenon.

The success is due to the combination of brilliant stories by Tiziano Sclavi on the one hand, and the drawing skill of the other Angelo Stano, who knew how to create elegant reminders to Schiele and Klimt, creating a successful crossover between the popular genre of comics and the highest expressions of art. Also it is a strong character with a romantic allure that was missing the other characters in the comic world – which were limited to the adventure. Plus, he was surrounded by other strong characters such as Groucho, Xabaras and charming female figures such as Morgana.

Stano was joined by other top illustrators who have maintained a high graphic level such as Claudio Villa, Corrado Roi and Bruno Brindisi. To the latter is now dedicated the exhibition of Little Nemo, still ongoing until Thursday, July 19. In the coming months the exhibition will be repeated in Lucca at Lucca Comics and in Padua during the Arte Padova art fair.

The great popularity of the character has immediately fostered a diffuse phenomenon of collecting of Dylan Dog. A legend is told that a copy of the No. 1 in the 1990s was paid as much as a million lire, a high figure for a comic book published just 10 years before. The correct figure today would be around €200-€300 ($272-$408).

For ordinary copies, on average, the cost is between €2 and €5 ($2.72-$6.80). Some important numbers reach €50 ($68), such as the number 13. The price depends of course on the state of conservation, a factor not to be overlooked because of the type of paper and the fact that black covers are easily perishable.

For an entire collection (about 300 numbers), the price ranges from €500 to €1,500 ($680-$2,040). Another element to be taken into account is the fact that right from the beginning many reprints have been made. So it is not a market for big investment but certainly widespread.

With regard to original drawings used to do the comics, prices range from €100 to €600 ($136-$816) depending on the artist. Original covers reach even higher prices, ranging from €1,500 ($2,040) for the covers of the latest issues, designed by Stano, to €5,000-€6,000 ($6,800-$8,160) for the covers of the first 41 numbers, designed by Claudio Villa. In the 1990s one of these covers cost 1 million-1.5 million lire, so now the price has increased considerably.

The covers on display at Little Nemo, instead, are as we said before by Bruno Brindisi, an illustrator who until 2013 has made only the interior of the comics and then found himself confronted with the cover – and with the great masters Villa and Stano – on the occasion of the reprint of 50 numbers in colors by the publishing group L'Espresso. On display are the covers and the sketches showing the not easy task to reinvent the cover without betraying the great legacy.

In general, the comics market today continues to reward quality, rarity and excellent conditions. Especially for the tables there is a real boom at an international level. Think of the Artcurial auction, for example, but also of the arrival in this market of the giants like Christie's, which has recently held an auction totaling 4.5 million euros (46.1 million), and Sotheby's, which is preparing to enter the market in Brussels in the beginning of 2015.

Among the most popular authors on the market there are also many Italians such as Hugo Pratt, Milo Manara, Vittorio Giardino, Guido Crepax and Dino Battaglia. Dylan Dog is a very Italian comic book, even if it is printed also in other countries including France, Turkey, northern Europe. At the international level it is especially popular in Croatia and Slovenia.


Bruno Brindisi, ‘Dylan Dog,’ Vol. 1, ‘L'alba dei morti viventi – Jack lo squartatore – Le notti della luna piena.’ Courtesy Little Nemo, Turin.

Bruno Brindisi, ‘Dylan Dog,’ Vol. 22, ‘I segreti di Ramblyn.’ Courtesy Little Nemo, Turin.

Bruno Brindisi, ‘Dylan Dog,’ Vol. 43. Courtesy Little Nemo Turin.

Bruno Brindisi, ‘Dylan Dog,’ Vol. 15, ‘Storia di Nessuno.’ Courtesy Little Nemo Turin.

Bruno Brindisi, ‘Dylan Dog,’ Vol. 19, ‘LA Mummia.’ Courtesy Little Nemo Turin.

Bruno Brindisi, ‘Dylan Dog,’ Vol. 20, ‘La clessidra di Pietra.’ Courtesy Little Nemo Turin.

Last Updated on Monday, 14 July 2014 14:52

Art Market Italy: Bibliopathos presents Old Masters, books

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Written by Silvia Anna Barrila   
Thursday, 03 July 2014 13:28

Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Sacrifice of Isaac, Oil on canvas, Courtesy Bibliopathos

After ten years as antique book dealers and an art gallery, Bibliopathos started in 2013 an auction house. Since the beginning of this activity, Bibliopathos has already held six auctions, and in July three more are scheduled. On July 9, Bibliopathos will hold in Turin an auction of Old Master paintings consisting of 59 lots (24 paintings and engravings and drawings for the rest), with estimates ranging between €500 and €100,000. It includes works by great masters from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, but also some minor works with more affordable prices for new collectors.

The two most important pieces are the "Lamentation over the Dead Christ" by Bassano, which once belonged to the royal of Spain King Felipe V and his wife Isabel and was published in the official catalog of their collections (lot 2, estimate €80,000-100,000), and the "Sacrifice of Isaac" by Giulio Cesare Procaccini, a recently discovered autograph work (lot 10, estimate €100,000-120,000). Other important paintings are the Madonna by Van Orley, also signed (lot 18, estimate €25,000-30,000), and "Leda and the Swan," a painting on panel from the mid-sixteenth century in excellent condition attributed to the Flemish painter Sellaer (lot 13, estimate €70,000-90,000). "For lovers of music," specialist Antonello Privitera recommends, "there are also two beautiful paintings on this subject: "Allegory of Music" by Van Ehrenstrahl (lot 3, estimate €20,000-25,000) and "Young Lady Playing the Lute" by Backhuyzen, signed and dated (lot 1, estimate €20,000-30,000)."

On July 10, instead, in Verona, Bibliopathos will hold two auctions of books. One is dedicated to Renaissance books, with rare specimens such as lot 104, Henricus Petrus' "Mikropresbutikon," a collection of apocryphal texts of the Early Church, which show its links with the pagan culture (estimate €2,000-3,000). The other one is an auction of "Ghosts" books - books which were unknown to librarians, universities and collectors. There will be 33 examples, including a 1498 missal printed on vellum (lot 16, estimate €40,000-50,000), and the only circulating manuscript of the "Picatrix," a book of Arabian magic, never printed as forbidden and known as "the stairway to hell."

"The market for antique books, in Italy and abroad, has changed enormously in recent years," Antonello Privitera says. "There is increasing attention to the splendid specimens, possibly in their first edition. Moreover, the interest of collectors has moved—but this already for twenty years or so— more and more toward science books. I see this trend almost as a consequence of what happens in the present: the spirit of the time is more technologic and more willingly to rely on science for the search of the truth rather than on philosophy or the thought."

And the art market in general? "The trend is definitely on the rise compared to previous years," Privitera says, "even though the market has shrunk already for the past five or six years. There is an attention on the part of the customers only to works of quality, partly due to the uncertainty given by the general world economic situation but also, in my opinion, to a greater awareness on the part of collectors, which has developed also from the enormous range of works of art and antique books available online."

As an auction house, Bibliopathos stands for a policy of zero or low fees for the buyer. "According to our philosophy, in fact, it is especially the seller who must bear the cost and pay for the services of the auction house. We do not want to burden those who are already exposing themselves to the purchase." Their policy was welcomed by the buyers and the percentage of sales were above 50%.

Other features of the auction house are: first, they do not offer too many lots in order not to tire collectors and in order to devote themselves more to cataloging and exhibiting the works; secondly, they provide catalogs which are extremely rich in information, so that even those who do not know art can get an idea.

If Bibliopathos' specialization is currently on Antique books and manuscripts and Old Masters paintings, in the future the plan is to open new departments, with special attention to contemporary art and Russian art.

"The decision to offer contemporary art is for adherence to our times," Privitera says. "It speak a language that has great expressive power, and I think it is right to run it alongside ancient and modern art.

Russian art, especially the Avant-garde, but also Soviet art, is my personal passion and I also believe that, together with attention to emerging authors, it is an excellent ground for pure investors. Indeed, Socialist Realism has remained one of the few areas of contemporary art yet very underrated, even for the difficulty of finding paintings that have an artistic value that bypasses the diktats imposed on painters by the Communist ideology and regime. After all, even the ancient painters had to work while trying to untangle between the whims of the rulers and the impositions of the Catholic Church and most of them were simple artisans of which no traces remain. In a similar way, it is necessary to look for the masterpiece also in Soviet art. It appears every thousand paintings, but when it appears it is a small miracle for the eyes and for the heart."

# # #


Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Sacrifice of Isaac, Oil on canvas, Courtesy Bibliopathos

Bassano, Lamentation over the Dead Christ, 1580-82, Oil on canvas, Courtesy Bibliopathos

Picatrix, 1624, Courtesy Bibliopathos

Mikropresbutikon, 1550, Courtesy Bibliopathos

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 13:38

Art Market Italy: modern, contemporary art at Wannenes

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Monday, 09 June 2014 13:45

 Lot 44, Giorgio De Chirico, 'Bagnanti,' 1946, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 cm. Estimate: €40,000-50,000. Courtesy Wannenes.

GENOA, Italy – On June 18, Genoa-based auction house Wannenes will put on the block 110 works of modern and contemporary art with estimates ranging from €1,000 to €60,000-80,000 for a tempera on board by Alberto Savinio titled L'isola preziosa, from 1949 (lot 90). "The selection is addressed to mid-range collectors, but is not a very large catalog because we focus on quality," said specialist Guido Vitali. "The 99 percent of the works come from private collections and range from Italian historical works from the 20th century to international representatives such as Richard Hamilton, Ramon Casas and Jesús-Rafael Soto."

The core of the auction is composed by a selection of works owned by actor Giuliano Gemma, who tragically died last year in a car accident.

"In addition to being a great actor,” Vitali said, “I should mention that Giuliano Gemma was an art collector who personally knew important Italian artists such as Mario Schifano, Giorgio De Chirico and Corrado Cagli. And he was an artist, as well." At the auction there will be also two bronze sculptures depicting cabaret dancers of 2.10 meters high, that have been entirely made by Gemma – from the creation of the gypsum structure, to the process of lost-wax casting, to the creation of the bronze statues. They were preserved in the actor's villa in Cerveteri (lots 32 and 33, estimate €5,000-7,000 each).

"It is a little-explored side of Gemma, who is primarily known as an actor," Vitali says. "In some interviews released short before he died, Gemma spoke of the joy of seeing the block of material, plaster or marble, which gradually came to life and was transformed under his hands. It was something that fascinated him."

Among the works from his collection there is a beautiful oil on canvas painting by Giorgio de Chirico from 1946 titled Le Bagnanti, which is published in the artist's general catalog and belongs to the artist's romantic baroque production (lot 44, estimate €40,000-50,000).

Among the other works in the catalog, specialist Guido Vitali signalizes an oil painting from the 1930s by Giacomo Balla called Dalie bianche nel vaso, painted in the period after the futuristic production which much sought after today. It is a period in which Balla re-reads its first figurative and realist production. The work has never been auctioned before and it comes from an important collection in Rome (lot 89).

Among the international names there is Ramon Casas (1866-1932), a Catalan artist famous for his portraits and caricatures of Spanish society. He is represented with an oil on canvas of important dimensions (56 x 46 cm), which portrays King Alfonso XIII (lot 82, estimate €8,000-12,000). Similar works as these are exhibited in major museums in Spain, including the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) in Barcelona, where there is a painting depicting the same Alfonso XIII, which is similar to the one at auction at Wannenes. It comes from a private collection from Florence.

There are also some interesting works of Optical Art such those by Jesús-Rafael Soto, a highly demanded artist, who died in 2005 and had a major exhibition at the Pompidou in 2013 on the occasion of the entry into the museum's collection of many of his works. Two of his works on plexiglas will go up for auction at Wannenes. They are not unique but limited edition (edition of 100) from 1967. They are quite difficult to find on the Italian market; they have been consiged to Wannenes by a Spanish collector (lots 12 and 13, estimate €5,000-7,000 each).

The next day, on June 19 , Wannenes will hold an auction of design with 400 lots and estimates ranging from €200 to €12,000-14,000 for a chest of drawers by Giò Ponti from the 1950s. Design from the first decade after the war is at the center of Wannenes auction. It is a golden moment for Italian design that rose again from the disasters of war combining creativity, entrepreneurship and craftsmanship. Among the highlights is a writing table by Ico Parisi, the model presented by company Altamira in the exhibition in New York in 1954 (estimate €5,000-6,000), and a library LB7 by Franco Albini from 1957 with an estimate of €3,500-4,000.


 Lot 44, Giorgio De Chirico, 'Bagnanti,' 1946, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 cm. Estimate: €40,000-50,000. Courtesy Wannenes. 

 Lot 89, Giacomo Balla, 'Dalie bianche nel vaso,' 1930s, oil on board, 65 x 56 cm. Estimate: €22,000-26,000. Courtesy Wannenes.

Lot 12, Jesus-Rafael Soto, 'Spirales,' 1967, (dalla serie Sotomagie), painted plexiglass and metal, 34 x 34 x 18, cm, ed. 18/100. Estimate: €5,000-7,000. Courtesy Wannenes. 

 Lot 82, Ramon Casas, 'Ritratto di Re Alfonso XIII,' beginning of 20th century, oil on canvas,  56 x 46 cm. Estimate: €8,000-12,000. Courtesy Wannenes.




Last Updated on Monday, 09 June 2014 14:55

Art Market Italy: Oriental art at Cambi in Genoa

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Tuesday, 13 May 2014 13:47

An important carved red coral with Guanyin, China, Qing Dynasty, late 19th century, 7,570 grams, 75x77 cm. Estimate: €50,000-70,000. Courtesy Cambi, Genoa.

GENOA, Italy – A preview of Cambi’s auction of Chinese art is taking place through Thursday in London. The Genoa-based auction house, under the guidance of Dario Mottola, in recent years has won first place in this market in Italy and is becoming important at international level, as well, as shown by the fact that works offered for sale were consigned even from foreign countries such as France, Germany and Great Britain.

The preview, which takes place in Cambi's new London offices on Dover Street, presents the most important lots that will be auctioned in Genoa on May 28-29. "In Italy there is not an internal market for Chinese art," specialist Mottola explains to Auction Central News, "but one can find very important objects because, as early as the end of the 17th century, the great noble families of Turin, Genoa and Milan imported objects from China. And not just those that were produced in China, but destined to foreign markets, which had a more decorative taste, but also those that were made for the market and the taste of China and that Chinese collectors are now buying back to retrieve their artistic and cultural heritage scattered throughout the centuries."

According to Mottola the market has not changed from last year, when several records for Chinese art in Italy were set at Cambi, and it remains strong. The catalog of May 28-29, which according to Mottola is Cambi’s most interesting from a scientific point of view, has several important pieces that, despite conservative estimates, can go very high. "Chinese buyers are unpredictable," Mottola says. "When they are willing to pay for an item, you can get unthinkable prices," as in the case of the begtse figure in gilt and painted bronze offered at Cambi in 2012 that was estimated €20,000-25,000 and sold for €596,000, or a screen offered in 2013that increased from an estimate of €12,000-15,000 to a result of €2,072,000.

This year the auction covers all areas of Chinese art, but coral and jade stand out. The sale is divided into three catalogs including one that highlights the corals. Among these are two of extraordinary weight. One is almost 8 kg and is carved red coral with depictions of Guanyin, animals and vegetation (China, Qing Dynasty, late 19th century, cm 75x77, lot 23, estimate €50,000-70,000). The other is 10.5 kg orange with Guanyin and dignitaries with two inscriptions (China, Qing Dynasty, late 19th century, cm 62x85, lot 32, estimate €40,000-60,000).

Another catalog is dedicated to porcelain, bronzes and jades. While the porcelain items are all from the 19th century and mainly decorative, among the jades are some exceptional objects. Depicted on the back cover of the catalog is an extraordinary imperial white jade plate engraved on two sides with "taotie" figures and archaic elements (China, Qianlong period, 1736-1796, 7.3x6 cm, lot 138, estimate €20,000-30,000). It is extraordinary for the color, for the type of incision and for its symbols. "In more than 30 years I have never seen an object of such high quality concentrated in so small dimensions," Mottola said.

For Chinese jade, color is a significant factor in the formation of prices. The most important and the most expensive ones are the white examples, followed by the yellow ones, which are rare. White celadon jades come next, followed by gray and green. In jadeite, which was discovered later, the most precious ones are the emerald translucent. Next in line are the emerald-green pieces, following by apple-green and finally the white ones.

Also among the jades, Cambi's auction presents an important emerald green jadeite incense burner with cover (China, Qing Dynasty, late 19th century, 14x14.5 cm, Bulgari collection in original box, lot 191, estimate €40,000-60,000).

Another incense burner is among the most important bronzes. It is a ritual tripod incense burner in gilt bronze dating back to the Shang Dynasty, which goes from 1750 to 1028 B.C. (16.5 cm, from the Tucci collection in Rome and Giuganini collection, estimate €30,000-40,000). Also among the bronzes is a large and important gilt bronze and copper figure of Vajrapani (protector of the Buddha, China, Qing Dynasty, 18th century, 55 cm, estimate €30,000-50,000).

These are only some of the exceptional pieces offered at the sale. The third catalog is a free-offer catalog, a new experiment with objects of lesser value but still worthy, designed to bring new collectors to this market.


An important carved red coral with Guanyin, China, Qing Dynasty, late 19th century, 7,570 grams, 75x77 cm. Estimate: €50,000-70,000. Courtesy Cambi, Genoa.

SAn extraordinary imperial white jade plate engraved on two sides with taotie figures and archaic elements, China, relief mark and the period Qianlong (1736-1796), 7.3x6 cm. Estimate: €20,000-30,000. Courtesy Cambi, Genoa.

An emerald green jadeite incense burner and cover, China, Qing Dynasty, late 19th century, 14 cm high, 14.5 cm diameter, Bulgari collection in original box. Estimate: €40,000-60,000. Courtesy Cambi Genoa.

A small bronze ritual tripod censer, China, Shang Dynasty (1750-1028 B.C.), 16.5 cm high, provenance: Tucci collection - Rome and Giuganini collection. Estimate: €30,000-40,000. Courtesy Cambi, Genoa.

A large and important gilt bronze and copper Vajrapani, China, Qing Dynasty, 18th century, 55 cm high. Estimate: €30,000-50,000. Courtesy Cambi, Genoa.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 15:49

Art Market Italy: Italian Design at Nova Ars

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Tuesday, 22 April 2014 13:39

Enzo Mari, pottery centerpiece, Danese Prod, 1973, Dimensions: 11.6 inches by 11.6 inches by 1.8 inches. Literature: ‘Enzo Mari, Il lavoro al centro, Electa editions, Courtesy Nova Ars.

ASTI, Italy – Nova Ars, an auction house based in Asti, Piedmont, and specialized in design, will hold a sale on May 6 dedicated entirely to Italian industrial design. It includes just over 100 lots, among which are some scarce icons of the past with original pieces from the period in which they were created.

"In the market of vintage industrial design, prices for the same object can change greatly depending on the series and on production details," Nova Ars Director Ilario Scagliola said to Auction Central News. "We always try to have an exemplary of the object from the year in which it was conceived or at most one of the following year in order to maintain the originality and the details of the time."

One of the most interesting lots of the auction is a Richard Ginori tea set in porcelain designed by Giò Ponti. It dates to the 1920s because it has a golden decoration that was used for important and high-level pieces only for a few years around 1923 to 1928 (lot 3, estimate €1,200-€1,500, $1,656-$2,070). It is, therefore, a service that dates back to the beginning of the collaboration between Giò Ponti and Richard Ginori in which one sees the change and the modernity brought by the Milanese master.

One can notice it also comparing, for example, the same tea service with the next piece at auction (lot 3A, estimate €1,800-€2,000), a Richard Ginori vase from 1880 that shows a floral decoration with cherubs, birds and snakes. A production like this would have gone ahead until the 1920s if Gio Ponti had not introduced a modern aesthetic.

Both lots are from Pittoria di doccia, one of the most prestigious porcelain factories in Europe, owned by Ginori and the by Richard Ginori after the merger.

Among the lighting elements, the auction includes a series of lamps realized by Murano company Mazzega and designed by Carlo Nason in 1969, a designer who comes from one of Murano's oldest families of glassmakers, but at the same time has always been innovative. They are important for their peculiarity and because they are not easy to find (lots 65, 66, 68, 69 and 72). Lot 68, a centerpiece, is part of the same series. Estimates run between €300-$500 and €1,300-€1,500.

Enzo Mari, important designer, artist and design theorist, is represented by two important centerpieces, both realized by Danese Milano. The first one is in porcelain, from 1973, and it was made by hand to bring back the craftsmanship into design (lot 84, estimate €3,000-€3,500). These pieces were expensive and difficult to produce. The other one is made of plastic and it is from 1968. It is rare because production was interrupted. The object was re-proposed by Alessi few years ago and even the Alessi piece is already a collector's item, so this is even more valuable and rare (lot 59, estimate €1,200-€1,500).

Of note, finally, the lamp by Toni Cordero, famous for its interiors realized for the houses of high society and fashion, which was designed for Artemide in 1990 and is interesting for the type of design and the materials used (lot 92A, estimate €2,500-€3,000).


Enzo Mari, pottery centerpiece, Danese Prod, 1973, Dimensions: 11.6 inches by 11.6 inches by 1.8 inches. Literature: ‘Enzo Mari, Il lavoro al centro, Electa editions, Courtesy Nova Ars.

Plastic centerpiece, model Adal, Enzo Mari, Danese, 1968. Courtesy Nova Ars.

Giò Ponti, pottery china tea set: six cups, six small plates, teapot, sugar bowl, milk jug. Signed and golden scroll on each piece. Courtesy Nova Ars.

Carlo Nason, ceiling lamp, chromed metal, blown glass, Prod. Mazzega, 1969, Dimensions: 8 inches high by 9.44 inches wide. Courtesy Nova Ars.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 08:22
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