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Korea's art auction market led by Lee U-fan, Yayoi Kusama

The Kiaf Seoul art fair opens on Sept. 2, 2022, at Coex in southern Seoul. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)
The Kiaf Seoul art fair opens on Sept. 2, 2022, at Coex in southern Seoul. (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

The Korean art auction market saw a downturn last year, after sales reached a record high in 2021, but was buffered by two artists -- Korean artist Lee U-fan and Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama -- whose works saw the greatest popularity in the country’s auction markets, a recent report by Korean Art Authentication and Appraisal showed.

Auction market sales fell 34.2 percent last year compared to 2021, while works by the two art masters saw steady popularity. Kusama’s “Statue of Venus Obliterated Infinity Nets” recorded the highest price of 4.4 billion won ($3.57 million) at Seoul Auction in February last year. The artist occupied the first, second and third place spots in terms of the highest-priced works sold at auction.

Lee U-fan, whose painting “From Point,” created in 1982, was auctioned off for 1.7 billion won in March at Seoul Auction, came in the No. 4 spot for most expensive auctioned work in the country.

The report, released Wednesday, displayed the consistent popularity of Lee’s work has been backed by solid research and collections at museums across the globe. Lee’s works tend to get collected by the museums in the first place, leading his works to reach a high price on the auction market among private collectors, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the country’s total transactions in the art market was reported to surpass 1 trillion won for the first time last year, comprising sales created from auctions, galleries and art fairs, according to a report by the Culture Ministry published early this month.



By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)
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