29 May 2009

The art market scenario

Numerous reports on the current recession and the situation of the art market have been emerging constantly, and while some suggest that the art market is fairing not as badly as one would have expected, there are others that go on to emphasize the sorry state of affairs. Still, the general consensus appears to be that the recession has helped tremendously in the art prices coming down to more logical levels. In the last few years the millions of dollars that were being spent on art thanks to all the hype, had boosted the art market artificially. This trend has slowed down now substantially and at the moment there is little demand for big names or hyped up works, and the few odd sales that are happening have been at much lower rates.

The overall feeling is that genuine art and artists will survive this downtrend. Speculation should also decrease, at least temporarily, and that should help in the stabilization of the art market in the long run. With lesser manipulation and a genuine interest in art being the root cause of sales it will ensure that only the serious players remain. Well, this might be the scenario at the moment, but ultimately how the market revives and operates may be determined by factors that will influence the situation in the next couple of years.

But, one noticeable factor in the recent past has been the renewed focus on quality by both the artist and the collector. In fact, now collectors are extremely conscious about the kind of works they buy. Where earlier an artist’s name was sufficient to induce a sale, and there was a frenzy to grab every work that came along - there would even be a waiting period to collect works by particular artists. This trend was bound to change, and now buyers are trying to ensure that they invest only in top quality works. The biggest gainers in this entire cycle have been upcoming artists who had begun to make their names just before the recession began. Their pricing has been the biggest draw, and both galleries and buyers are watching out for them.

(Published in Financial Times)

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