Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pop Goes the Art World Bubble

Lately I have been thinking about the current state of the art market. It goes without saying that the art market is in for some rough times. I’m by no means an expert on the subject, but I must say that I could see this happening. The bubble did not burst in the way I had expected-- I don‘t think anyone could foresee these dire times, but I did stress the fact that certain aspects of the art world had been walking a fine line.

Today the bubble is gone. It popped months ago. The question is… what will be the result when everything is said and done? How will the various aspects of the art world restructure after having been dealt a hard economic blow? Many have taken a Darwinist view of the situation in that they feel that the ‘best of the best’ will survive this storm-- the best artists and art dealers. You can see this opinion expressed on art blogs, art forums, and elsewhere. What are your thoughts on this issue? Who are the 'best'? Do any of you view the recent chaos in a positive light?

The following is an excerpt from a post I made in 2007 titled I’d Hate to Burst Your Bubble:

“True, there has been record-breaking sales of art in 2007. It seems that the art market has finally overcome obstacles that had left the market in question for several years. However, I'm nervous as to how much longer this can occur before there is another slump. Slumps in the art market tend to trickle down the chain of art sales. When the market is good it is good for every artist- when it is bad... it is bad. When it is bad... even the most established artist can have a hard time selling his or her work.

Many younger artists, who are not really established yet, are fetching up to $20,000 for their works according to collectors who frequent fairs like Art Basel. This is due to the market at this time. If the art market were to fall it would cause many of these younger artists to get caught in the process- which could lead to young careers being stamped out before they even started. The current market is reminding people of the bubble of the 1980s market and history teaches us that it can burst at any moment.

I'm not suggesting that a young artist should not price his or her work high. However, young artists need to think in the long-term about their careers. Fetching a few high prices now is great, but what if the 'bubble' around the current art market were to pop? Where would that leave them? It is hard to go from fetching $20,000 to just a few thousand per piece. One would do that at the risk of offending collectors who had purchased their work for higher prices. In other words, I'd hate to burst your 'bubble'... just be careful.

The art market looks great at this time. A young artist can throw caution to the wind, right? Just remember that in the wind a bubble can only be carried so far before it finally pops. That is a situation that leaves a young artist who is not established with only one direction to go- Down. Don't get caught in the 'pop'.”

View the complete article from 2007 by clicking, HERE

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor


Anonymous said...

I'd say that the college grad crowd is being weeded out now. Only a handful of those former students will stay in the position that has been thrown to them. I don't think gallerists will be lining up to nab talent straight out of school. I think this is a time for focusing on mid career artists. I bet that the gallerists who let some of their older talent go are starting to kick themselves in the head.

Anonymous said...

It is not just the fault of gallerists anon. In most cases the dealer and the artist agree on an asking price. These kids don't want to settle for less. They want to be the next art star just as much as the dealer does behind closed doors.

Anonymous said...

Slightly different perspective...

I am a mid-career artist also working in an art gallery.

This past month with the economy crashing I personally recieved 2 very nice commisions to work on. And the gallery pulled in about 200K.

I was also shocked. Thrilled, but shocked.

It seems to me that at the moment, those who still have $$$ seem to be interested in showing off.

A creative person might just do very well in this envioronment playing just the right angles...

It might not be as bad as it's being made out to be... you just need to know the right secret handshake.

Anonymous said...

The extremely wealthy still got plenty of money. As long as you keep a steady job, borderline depressions are great, the dollar goes alot further. And yes, I did predict this long ago, if you read my article Imperial Clothing even, which I wrote just after a retarded art article in Newsweek for last New Year. I finished it by the end of January, but not posted at til July, I said we were in for real bad times ahead. How it started was the only question, we are no where near bottom yet, jsut starting the third phase of three. And it will be a VERY slow recovery. Saw an economist predict what would happen if we did not stop the sub prime fervor two years ago, and the bubble of money we thought was there, but wasnt because we couldnt track it through the new phenonomenon of mulitnationals, Sorta a giant check kiting scheme, plus speculating on speculation, to an extent not seen since the Japanese who learned their lesson in the 1980s, and our own Great Depression. We had many before.

If you look on philosopher

site, he linked me a while back, on 12/1 an economist named Peter Schiff had it pretty much down, tearing up some rather stupid popular fake economists on Fox News. Our budget deficit, which will grow evenr more from an scary and absurdly huge $11 trillion plus to much, much more over the next two years. We have to deal with that once te economy starts to very slowly rebuild, its a credit card gone beserk, it must be paid, we have bene living off of it for years, and so our stupid art worlds excesses, and everything else.

The art world as we came to know it over the last few decades is done, gone forever, we hope. The acceptance of mediocrity is no longer a luxury we can afford, only that which adds to our common culture, not buuilds a separate amusement park for the rich, will survive. Not many ral artists are needed, try doing something constructive, find jobs that build an economy, art does not. But can motivate and focus a people on reailty, what is important, Art has avoided that completely since the 1960s. And so, contemporary art is dead.

RIP Contemp Art

art collegia delenda est

Christine Wasankari said...

I've seen it slide now for about 3 years. 4 if I actually really look closely. Online sales that is.

I went from a very bit of nice income to ok income to practically none in the last 2 years. This is for online. The gallery I belong to had a record year this last summer but it's been sliding into dismal this holiday season. We suspect the record summer was due to high gas prices and the folks in Seattle staying a little closer to home and going to Port Townsend for a little fun instead of where ever else they go. We thought the gas prices would kill us, but we made it through well enough.

I started a store online for the gallery and have only had one sale. It's a little frustrating but unless I can hover over all of the artists and insist they tell each potential customer we also have a store online, we just won't get the easy warm traffic.

Anyway, sales have been really awful for me personally. One or two small paintings every other or third month is what I'm down to now.

Not so good.

Balhatain said...


What lengths do you go to promote your online store? Online you can reach a global market easily. However, it does take effort and you have to have a way to accept payment in a safe manner from buyers. Do you use social networking sites and blogs to promote your ecommerce endeavor?