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Jamaica Art Market Review (March 2018)

"Every time an artist dies, God lets them paint the sky so they can say goodbye."

There is something to that unattributed quote; for the night sky after Gene Pearson's death was grey, and damp and as dense as a mass of wet clay ready to be thrown. Pearson's death followed that of his former wife's, abstract artist Lady Jacqueline Hussey Pearson; and pioneering water-colourist Dorothy Henriques Wells made her transition too this month, albeit more gently. We mourn their passing and thank them for their works of beauty which have and will always enhance our lives.


This is an opportune time to share with estates, dealers and collectors new research on the "death effect", by economists Ekelund and Jackson (2017) which cautions against "spoiling" the market by flooding it with a surplus of goods.

In examining 6,118 auction records for paintings created by 17 post-war American artists (14 of whom were men) who died between 1987 and 2013, they found a steady uptick in price of 6% on average in the five years preceding death, followed by a roughly equivalent plummet in the year of their death, a fall of 26% on average. After that, prices typically began to climb again.

This redefinition of the death effect — traditionally conceived of as the price bump an artist gets after her death — helps explain rising prices for a large cohort of prominent artists reaching advanced ages. According to Ursprung and Wiermann (2011), the peak age-at-death, in terms of an artist’s price and reputation, is 70—old enough to have garnered critical acclaim, not so old that one is forgotten.

Artists and their dealers are encouraged to think strategically about output: such as changing styles, which serves to limit the amount of work in any given style or period of his career; or establishing museums in their lifetime to assure buyers that a substantial portion of their output will be removed from the market; or structuring contracts to ensure that the dealer has the right to buy a work back from a collector who eventually wants to sell it, rather than let it remain in the open market.

(Above) Gene Pearson, Fade Down, n.d.


Seen on Facebook. The two heads on the gateposts of Gene Pearson's house have been removed. If anyone knows where they are or is offered them to buy, call the Red Hills police at 945-8270.

Timely too, is the UWI Museum's latest blog post highlighting a new push to combat the loss of cultural property, a major concern for museums and cultural/heritage actors in the region and many parts of the world.



Graph shows global art sales trend, reaching USD63.7 billion in 2017. Source: UBS AG/Art Basel.

A meaningful take-away for Jamaican artists from the Art Basel and UBS' Global Art Market Report 2018 prepared by Dr. Clare McAndrew is this: get your social media on and focus on the online market. The rationale is this: collectors are increasingly browsing artworks online where third-party platforms, operating in the primary market as intermediaries between galleries and collectors all over the world, are meeting buyer's rising demand for clear information on pricing of artworks.

Key take-aways from the report indicate that the online market:

  • increased in size by 72% over the last five years;

  • reached a new high of $5.4 billion in 2017 - a 10% year-on-year increase;

  • accounts for 8% of the value of global sales;

  • dealers report that 45% of their online buyers were new to their businesses;

  • is projected as a key area of growth over the next five years

Added to this is the Wealth Report, which highlights the spending patterns of the world’s ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI)—those with investable assets of at least $30 million—reveals that

for the first time since 2010, UHNWI have spent more money on art than “investment grade wine”, which topped last year’s Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index which ranks the investment performance of ten asset classes by tracking the value of each. Read more here and here.



Fragments of Time II is on view at Olympia Gallery, Kingston where one of Bryan McFarlane's 40 works caused this quartette to seriously lean in on opening night. Photo: Annie Paul.


(Above) The Melhado Room of the OPA/Reggae Mill Bar, Montego Bay premiered Art Wednesdays, inspired by the Bacardi and Swizz Beatz #NoCommission series which allows artists to earn all the profits made from their exhibitions. Roberta Dewar's paintings kicked off the series, followed by photographer Craig Phang Sang.



In the March 2018 issue of Australian VOGUE, an article titled "18 feminist artists Emma Watson loves and you will too" featured Barbados artist Sheena Rose.

Lamenting the issue of inequality in the art world and the under representation of female, artists, the actor, activist, and UN Women Goodwill ambassador said: "I’ve always felt we don’t hear enough about female artists from the Caribbean and it’s been great to see Sheena Rose be discovered by the US press. I loved the honesty and fun of her “Sweet Gossip” series which really convey raw moments of human interaction really."

(Left) Sheena Rose, No Title (From the Sweet Gossip series), 2015

Ebony G. Patterson, is the Jamaican artist who has "arguably put contemporary art from Jamaica on the international map", writes Veerle Poupeye in the Observer about Ebony's amazing year.

(Left) Photo of Ebony G. Patterson courtesy of the Monique Meloche Gallery



Carol Crichton's Looking for the Perfect Frame (1998) appears on cover of a new Palgrave Macmillan publication "Doing Qualitative Research in Politics".

Cover appears at left; the full expression of the 56" x 55" acrylic painting appears above.

Written by Angela Kachuyevski PhD, Arcadia University & Lisa M. Samuel PhD, New York University, two political science researchers who are "constantly searching for the right "frame" for our research, the "perfect frame." With this in mind, we sought a representation for the cover of our book that would speak to this search. When we encountered Carol Crichton’s stunning piece, Looking for the Perfect Frame, we saw ourselves and our work in those frames - and we knew we had found what we were looking for - a new and fresh “way of seeing,” utilizing layers of frames with layers of meaning, speaking to our utilization of research methods that, in many ways, are framed in ways that challenge disciplinary norms for knowledge production."



Roxanne Silent, the National Gallery of Jamaica's Records & Information Manager/Registrar gave a thank you shout out to these seven good men from the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) for assisting the NGJ in removing this Edna Manley work, The Message, from its pride of place in front of the gallery. The work sustained minor damage when someone broke off a finger ...again. Plans are in place to restore it for the third time.



Dorothy Henriques Wells (b. 1926 Jamaica - March 5, 2018) Forerunner, celebrated as one of the finest water colourists in the Americas, teacher, the first Black graduate of the Ontario College of Art, died at the age of 92 in Miami. Read more here.

Lady Jacqueline Hussey Pearson (b. England - March 13, 2018) Abstract artist and self-described "image catcher, didgeridoo player, singer, poetess and playwright." View her Art Scene profile here.

Gene Pearson (b. 1946 Jamaica - March 15, 2018) Beloved, renowned, prolific and beatific ceramic artist. Visit the Gene Pearson Studio for more information.


artephemera®com has no vested interest in any art assets that appear herein. All site content is prepared using "as-is" publicly available information with or without examining the actual works.

One Twickenham Park | POB 703 Spanish Town | Jamaica


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