This art collector hunted white monochrome painting across the world

Thomas Yamamoto had only seen it in one photo, but the retired financial executive was so fascinated by Mary Corse’s monochrome white canvas that he first bought it, then hopped on a plane to New York. from Shanghai to inspect his new treasure.

He got a first look at the $ 350,000 worth of work on Wednesday at the Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery booth at the Armory Show, New York’s largest modern and contemporary art fair. “Normally we would put it in storage, come here, look at it and then buy it,” said Yamamoto, 69, who started collecting art with his wife seven years ago. “We were a little afraid that if we didn’t get involved, it would disappear.

Such is the competitive nature of the global art market, with demand from new collectors, especially from Asia, driving up prices. As certain areas of the market become overheated, dealers and collectors seek value – and find it among overlooked artists, many of whom are women.

Dirt road

This is the case of Corsica, 72, a pioneer of the West Coast Light and Space movement in the 1960s. Corsica treats light as the subject and material of her paintings, activating them using refractive glass microspheres that are common in painting. road painting. Working in the same studio on a dirt road for 50 years, she has been eclipsed by male peers such as James Turrell and Robert Irwin. It is changing rapidly.

The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York will organize Corsica’s first solo museum survey in June. The artist’s paintings from the 1960s to the present day will be on display from May at the Dia Art Foundation in Beacon, New York. The same month, the blue chips Lisson Gallery will exhibit his work in London.

Corsica is a prime example of the rediscovery “of a seasoned artist who worked under the headlines and was not due to her because she was a female artist,” said Benjamin Godsill, private artistic advisor.

Corsica’s auction record, set in November, is $ 137,500 (auction prices for Irwin exceed $ 1 million). Only 40 of his works have appeared at auction, according to the Artnet Global Auctions Database. In 2010, one of his large paintings sold for just $ 10,625.

Shimmering paintings

But his gallery’s prices are rising rapidly, with color works in the Armory ranging from $ 325,000 to $ 450,000. A set of five small drawings is priced at $ 110,000. By the end of the first day of the fair, which runs until Sunday, three of Corsica’s shimmering paintings have been reserved by museums and all other pieces at Kayne Griffin Corcoran’s booth have been sold, according to a spokesperson. from the gallery.

Yamamoto, an American based in Shanghai, discovered Corsica three weeks ago during a trip to Los Angeles with his wife, venture capitalist Marietta Wu, to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The couple visited Kayne Griffin Corcoran and fell in love with one of Corsica’s works, but it was not available. The gallery then contacted them with information on a larger piece, Untitled (White Inner Band, Beveled) from 2011 that was heading to the Armory. They jumped up.

“This work is so characteristic of his work and it has this magnitude and this beauty,” Yamamoto said. “Later it might be out of our reach.”

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Norma D. Ross