Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Art Market is Burning: All Art is HOT... Can it go Out?

It has been said that the current art market is on fire- that current art sells can be decided by the strike of a match. I've expressed my opinion about the dangers of this hot art market in the recent past (a crash could send younger artists who are selling for high prices into total obscurity and could chip away at the careers of more established artists). However, in regards to the hodge-podge of art that is selling at this time, I must say that it is not really a bad thing... or is it?

The fact that so much art is selling for high prices has me concerned, but the fact that all types of art can thrive in the current market is a nice change from a market that often seems extremely selective. The galleries of today seem to be taking more of a risk with emerging artists in that they are opening their doors- doors that would have been slammed shut just a few years ago when the market was cold.

Emerging artists have been able to get their 'foot in the door'. This has lead to a variety in art styles and forms. Need proof? Attend any major art fair throughout the world and you will observe what I'm talking about. The fires are burning bright for young talent! ...How long will it continue?

This shift in the art market has allowed a wide range of art to be displayed and purchased. Young collectors, which are increasing in number, have embraced this diversity. These aspects of the current art market come together in order to offer artists a more balanced foundation to work from as far as success is concerned. However, the foundation is a rocky one. I don't believe it is stable.

'Rags to riches' stories are plentiful- the overall acceptance of art as a whole has increased sharply. Though I believe it is wise to be cautious of this market I must say that I enjoy the diversity. I hope the diversity continues no matter what happens with the buying market. The art market of today has increased the acceptance of all artistic forms. That is one positive aspect of the current hot market.

At the heart of the market there is a sense that no art is better than another form of art. In 2007 we have seen traditional and conceptual works sell for millions. Photographs and installations have sold for high sums of money alongside traditional oil paintings. Collectors, dealers, and curators are all switching to a form of diversification as far as their collections are concerned. All art is hot at the moment... every artist has a chance to ignite his or her career.

People are embracing a wide variety of art instead of focusing on one area or notion of art. This is great for the acceptance of artists and their work as a whole as it tends to trickle down to the rest of the populace. However, it is wise to keep a wary eye on the market as far as high pricing is concerned. A match can be extinguished by a simple gust of wind, true?

I view the current market as a box of matches- a box of matches that has been thrown upon the floor. People are grabbing every match up and each match happens to be unique from the other in shape and design. Each has a different colored flame when lit- all are accepted as equal. Thus, there is something for everyone.

With that said, what happens when the match sticks no longer fall? When the floor is piled with them and people no longer care to pick them up? When eyes no longer gaze at the lure of the flame? What happens when the box is empty? The flames will die out. That is something to think about... right?

I'm concerned that the acceptance of art in general will be 'put out' if indeed the currents art market 'burns out' at some point. Are any of you concerned about this? Or do you feel that the high interest in art at this time will continue to burn for many years to come? I want your opinions and concerns.

As for me... I'm attracted to the fire... but I fear the flame.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin


Anonymous said...

I'm concerned as well. There is something wrong when an unknown ends ups selling work for $20,000. That is a lot more than a lot of experienced artists have been selling for! I can especially see how a backlash against new media could happen if the art markets hits a black point. Everyone wants to discover the next Picasso. I don't think collectors will be happy when their investment turns out to be worthless. That could harm the success of future emerging artists!

Jimmy said...

I would think it is a good thing, as the initial hurdle to sell, and get the validation from collectors from the recognition of the price of the sale. If it dries up, it is only temporary.

Anyway, the common belief is that the art market follows the S&P 500 by six months. The current market is allowed by the stellar hedge funds' success. There future is something I would worry about as far as its relation to the success of art sales.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am very wary of this hot art market that's all the rage right now. There have been "art bubbles" in the past (like the '80's) that have burst and left the artists themselves scrambling. However...I do sense something a little different about this current trend, and ironically, it's all about the demographic of the collector. Traditionally, the stereotypical image of the collector has been the rich "aristocratic" older gentleman and his wife scouring the NYC galleries for the Next Big Thing(s). Nowadays, in addition to the "Aristocratic Gentleman" style collector, we also have the hipper, young professional types who are collecting. A lot of that has to do with a lot of these emerging artists (especially the younger ones either in or just out of school) selling their art at affordable prices, which allows a much greater audience to participate in starting collections on the cheap. Also, the rise in popularity of artists producing prints of their work and selling limited editions or even big runs of these prints for under $100 has contributed to this as well.

It would be great if this fire keeps burning for years to come, but who knows if it really will or not. All kinds of factors (social, economic, geo-political) will determine if it will continue on the path it has or swerve off the cliff into the abyss.

Anonymous said...

Reminds one of the real estate market. And like all markets, they get hot, they blow up, and then comes the correction.

I think artists need to approach the market with the sense not to be "flavor of the month." Which could be hard when all sorts of expendable income is being flashed at the hungry creative. The trick will be to have staying power.

And only time will tell.....

Balhatain said...

Thanks so much for your comments! The important thing is that we are talking about it. I can't wait to read other views. Again, thanks!


Kristof said...

I confess it makes me a little paranoid now with local galleries. I am in a city where art wasn't the most popular consumer market. Especially anything that slides out of the "traditional" style. They seem to be trying to desperately catch up with the more cosmopolitan cities in the art area. Whether it is a true need for a more diverse culture or just another way to rake in revenue into an out dated old Southern city is hard to say. Maybe both.
Why does it make me paranoid though? A small but "trendy" gallery just hung one of my paintings today. Now, would they had wanted it before this local renaissance? Do they think it will sell because they are gambling on the locals and tourists here to want that sort of thing? Would they want it if the current art market wasn't as is? Hard to tell whether or not you're "good" IE sale-worthy, or not at this rate.

Anonymous said...

Very good article. The art world is turning. Unconventioal artspaces and projects are beginning to be more welcomed in the arena. Non profits play a huge role in work that is not necessarily consumable or product driven. It is the time of new media,video, installations and photography. The combination of disciplines is extemely "hot" at the moment. There is the "art star" phenomenon which can affect an artist like a can of red bull. As for art and the internet, I wonder if it will take the same route as the music industry. Wiith artists like ani defranco who "did it all" and turned the tables making the music industry come to her. Does the visual artist have that capability? Collectives may be the way to go on that score.


Dianne Bowen