John Baldessari, Image via: db-artmag
- “The bigger the idea, the longer the career, because that's what makes an artist's work relevant, rich, and rewarding,” says veteran adviser Thea Westreich, “I never trust the multitudes, because the most radical ideas take the longest for the market to absorb.” Westreich issued this opinion in 2006 to New York Magazine’s Marc Spiegler for an article certainly worth revisiting today: Five Theories On Why The Art Market Can’t Crash. And why it will anyway.
- Josh Baer writes a great piece at The Art Newspaper, Speculation in Young Artists Is Over, The Smaller Dealers Will Be Hurt The Most. The money quote from that article:
- The Telegraph UK doesn’t think the financial crisis will hit the art market as hard as other fields. Says Christie’s Chief executive Ed Dolman to The Guardian: “The [October 19th Contemporary Evening] sale wasn’t as successful as last season’s and we are perhaps seeing a correction from the past few seasons. But there is significant liquidity and a surprising amount of activity when a lot of people thought there would be no activity at all. The real message is one of cautious optimism.” Granted it behoves Dolman to put a positive spin on a disappointing sale, but his words don’t sound untrue.
- The Associated Press describes plunge-y art markets.
That particular quote doesn’t have too much to do with why the market can’t crash, and why it will anyway, but it does outline a standard for evaluating art that has often been forgotten over these last few years. Frankly, it’s exciting to read the comments from dealers (Zach Feuer, Marc Glimcher), collectors and advisors (Thea Westreich) in this article, who through the thick of the boom not only maintained a level headed approach to the market, but have been making strategic decisions based on that knowledge. In the name of planning ahead, the magazine cited three artists they thought would survive the crash: John Baldessari, Takashi Murakami, and Thomas Ruff.
After all, how do we think Richard Prince (and his dealers) felt (at first) when his “Nurse” paintings that were sold in 2003 for $75,000 were turned into multi-million dollar profits within a few short years? Traditionally that was avoided by selecting buyers who never sold—but now galleries have a new tactic. If you raise the primary prices to the level of the secondary market there is no room for speculation. So, game over.
So what is the effect? I suspect that it will hurt the smaller galleries that sell emerging or non-blue-chip art the most.
This isn’t good news for emerging artists, but Baer reiterates the sentiments we’re likely to hear no end of for the next couple of years: “A return to the importance of museums, critics and alternative spaces for validation and the introduction of new art.” Marc Spiegler’s version of this at New York Magazine was simply that better art tends to be made during these times. I guess we’ll see.
Round-up tip via: N. Fischer