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Why the painter star Peter Doig is leaving his German gallery owner

Peter Doig is considered one of the most important contemporary painters.

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Why the painter star Peter Doig is leaving his German gallery owner

Peter Doig is considered one of the most important contemporary painters. His figurative, expressive paintings are often based on photographs. The Scotsman, who lived for a long time on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, draws on a large archive of self-taken and found images.

He is mentioned in the same breath as neo-expressionists like Georg Baselitz or Francesco Clemente, the Italian Tranavanguardia star of the 1980s. But Doig also draws on older art history or, with his series of "Canoo" paintings, quotes the painters of the Canadian Group of Seven, who brought the mythical North American landscape to the canvas at the beginning of the 20th century.

After many exhibitions in important museums, Doig is also one of the most expensive living painters. His paintings are among the most sought-after pieces on the art market: in 2014, Sotheby's set an auction record for "Country Rock (Wing Mirror)" at £8.4 million, which was broken just one day later. Since "Gasthof zur Muldentalsperre" at Christie's was increased to 9.9 million pounds.

On May 11, 2015, a bidding war at Christie's saw Doig's painting of a canoe on a forest lake, Swamped, raise the price to $25.9 million. On November 9, 2021, the same picture went under the hammer again at Christie's for $39.8 million.

His gallery owner Michael Werner may have made a not inconsiderable contribution to Doig's amazing success on the art market. The German dealer, in business since 1963, currently runs galleries in Berlin and New York. The program includes famous names like Baselitz, Immendorff, Lüpertz, Polke and Penck, but also fresher positions like Hurvin Anderson and Raphaela Simon. Peter Doig remained loyal to Michael Werner for 23 years. The gallery was able to place his paintings in public collections from London to Munich, from New York to Washington.

But now Doig's wife Parinaz Mogadassi has informed the industry journal "The Art Newspaper" that the artist will work independently in the future, will not be represented by any gallery and will no longer aspire to be. A painter whose paintings are sold for eight-digit millions of euros probably doesn't need that. Or in Mogadassi's words: "From an artist's point of view, it is best if you ensure transparency in all negotiations and have direct discussions about your own work and life." The ousted dealer may see it differently, especially if one assumes the agreement of a fifty-fifty split between artist and gallery owner that is customary in the primary market.

Doig can now set its own sales prices. At auctions, however, supply and demand still decide how the value of a work will develop. The Phillips auction house expects a hammer price of between 60,000 and 80,000 pounds on March 3, 2023 for a painted photo. It is 21 by 29 centimeters.

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