The contemporary art world is always looking for the next big thing—and, if you ask some experts, New York-based artist Avery Singer is it.
Ever since the young painter parted ways with her New York dealer Gavin Brown earlier this year, the industry has been buzzing about what gallery would have the privilege of representing her, with rumors that mega-businesses Gagosian, David Zwirner, and Hauser & Wirth were all fighting for the chance.
Now, Singer has officially made her choice, signing with Hauser & Wirth. The gallery will present four of her paintings at an the upcoming Frieze Los Angeles fair in February ahead of a full solo show in 2021. The artist will continue to be represented in Berlin by gallery Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler.
A painter equally popular with collectors and curators, Singer made her name by merging an innovative high-tech process with classical painting tropes. She became known for black-and-white gridded works based on illustrations made with the free 3D modeling software SketchUp that depict the rituals of artistic life, from studio visits to life-drawing classes.
She also made a splash at this year’s Venice Biennale with her latest body of work—large paintings she created by rendering images with sophisticated modeling software and then airbrushing them onto canvas with a computer-controlled printer—that look like a mashup between a video game and a dream.
Hauser & Wirth’s vice president Marc Payot told Artnet News that he became hooked on Singer’s work when he saw it for the first time at the Kunsthalle Zürich roughly five years ago, and later in the New Museum Triennial. (A testament to Singer’s charmed career, the Zürich show came about after the museum’s then-director, Beatrix Ruf, saw her first-ever gallery show in Berlin.)
Payot praised Singer for creating a “bridge or tension between a very extreme radical reinvention of what painting can be today, but at the same time having references to art history.”
The two first began speaking about her joining the gallery around six months ago. “I think on one level, she is very much mature and what she’s producing is of fantastic quality,” Payot said. “Yet she’s still young in her career and needs a solid platform which prioritizes that she can experiment and grow.”
Payot shot down rumors flying around last week’s Art Basel Miami Beach fair—as news about Singer joining Hauser & Wirth began to seep out—that she had been paid a $1 million signing bonus. “It’s simply not true,” he said. “We don’t do that with artists who come to the program because it would be a completely wrong approach.”
That’s not to say Singer isn’t worth it. To date, her work has popped up at auction 13 times, with her top sale, FELLOW TRAVELERS, FLAMING CREATURES (2013), selling for $735,000, more than six times its high estimate, at Sotheby’s in May 2018. Singer has refrained from discussing her market, but advisors say that some works have fetched as much as $1 million privately.
Singer is the latest young artist—and art-market phenom—to join Hauser & Wirth’s stable. Although the gallery poached two Impressionist and Modern specialists from Christie’s last year, suggesting a shift in focus toward the secondary market, it has been adding younger artists at a steady clip recently, including 39-year-old Nicolas Party.
But for Singer, the daughter of two artists, it was Hauser’s relationship to older icons that sealed the deal. In a statement, she recalled visiting Philip Guston’s work at the Museum of Modern Art, where her father worked as a projectionist. She describes spending “many hours” in front of Guston’s Cherries (1976), “learning about my father’s deep appreciation for it and its importance in art history. I had the same experience with Louise Bourgeois, and my mother’s profound personal connection with her radically definitive oeuvre.” (Hauser & Wirth works with both artists’ estates.)
Singer added that “as an artist, I need a gallery collaboration that is deeply committed to supporting a long trajectory of experimentation and innovation that I will pursue over the course of my career and my life.”
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