The art market is still performing well, with Artprice reporting that in the first half of 2014 art auction turnover, excluding fees, reached 7.15 billion dollars globally, whereas in the first half of 2013 it totalled 6.11 billion dollars.
That said, Georgina Adam of the Art Newspaper points out that the recent slump in the rouble, tumbling oil prices and political unrest elsewhere are likely to cause trouble. 2015, she concludes, will probably not be as impressive as 2014 with art prices unlikely to rise as radically as in previous years.
2015 does not begin well for either Sotheby’s or Christie’s with the market leading auction houses both lacking secure leadership. The Art Newspaper questions whether Christie’s new chief executive Patricia Barbizet will be a permanent fixture or not. Georgina Adam predicts Sotheby’s will be on the lookout for leadership from someone with more of a business focus as opposed to Christie’s who will probably be in search of someone from a more obviously art historical background, after the tensions that Steve Murphy created with his shake-up of the company.
Art market experts are united in noting the importance of the rapid rise in the number of museums worldwide. Nowhere is this more obvious than in China: the number of museums registered in China is now at 4, 165- a number which has doubled in the past 10 years. This is clearly intrinsically linked to China’s now firmly established importance in the art market. Georgina Adam believes that the proliferation of museums should outbalance weaknesses in the market, saving it from collapsing and instead leading to a ‘cooling’. Paddy Johnson, writer at Artnet, too estimates that while a correction of the market is overdue, it is unlikely to occur in 2015.
Abigail R. Esman, a writer at Blouin Artinfo, predicts that the relaxing of tensions between the US and Cuba will unsurprisingly do wonders for the market for Cuban art and for Cuban artists themselves. She cites the prominent collector Ron Pizzuti who has been collecting Cuban art since 2009 with an eye to a more favourable future market and who in an interview in 2013 said ‘Once the collector group gets exposure to the depth of the works being produced in Cuba and realises the passion that the Cuban artists have for producing good works, the Cuban market should become more important.’ The next few years will probably prove him right.
Esman also draws attention to the increasing importance of Turkey in 2015, with the tenth edition of its now very famous contemporary art fair Contemporary Istanbul and the opening of an important new museum, the Desma collection, which will house around 2000 works from a private collection. However, Turkey’s position in the art market depends heavily upon its politics and with a government that is tending more and more towards censorship and political conservatism the climate may not be secure enough to allow its art market to reach its full potential.
Over in the states, there has been a flurry of interest in LA in the press recently and several arts commentators predict the city will grow in importance in the coming year. The infrastructure is certainly there with a large and important collector base in the West Coast and major galleries like Sprüth Magers and Hauser Wirth & Schimmel opening new spaces there in 2015. January alone will also see two important fairs in the city: the LA Art Show and Art Los Angeles Contemporary. A piece published recently in the Wall Street Journal exploring this phenomenon drew a distinction between LA and New York: asserting that while New York is likely to remain the art market centre in the US for a long time, LA is experiencing a period of intense artistic production with young artists flocking to the city from across the globe. As the author says: ‘The ecosystem in L.A. is democratic, bootstrappy and local.’ And it is precisely this affordability and sense of community that is drawing fresh talent to the city, and to some extent away from expensive, cold New York. It would be wise to keep an eye out for new work coming out of the West Coast city.
Online purchasing has been boosted by high confidence in contemporary art and Artnet points out that this has opened the market to a generation of younger collectors who feel safe buying online. Roxanna Zarnegar, senior vice president of auctions and private sales at Artnet Worldwide, artnet News’ parent company, notes that artnet Auctions with a price point of about $10,000 to $100,000 “cover a very exciting Gen Y demographic that the brick and mortar can’t seem to get their heads around.”
Artprice, arguably the most complete art market databank in the world with 3,600,000 members and auction results from over 570,000 artists, intends to list its subsidiary ‘Artmarket.com’ on the Nasdaq and to use it for online art auctions beginning in the US in 2015.
Paddy Johnson observes that it is high time online art marketplaces took extremely serious security precautions against hacking, especially when it comes to the trading of digital art- you need only look at what happened to Sony this year to understand the importance of this. If they can do this, and convincingly enough that collectors take notice, 2015 could be the year where we finally see more faith being placed in online art purchasing. People have been predicting that for quite some time now though, so let’s not get too excited.
This isn’t a particularly surprising entry, I can’t remember the last time Warhol wasn’t everywhere I looked, but this year he will be especially omnipresent with some 40 exhibitions of his work in the pipeline. It’s all thanks to the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts which has just finished the third section of a program of donations. During this last round they donated more than 14,000 works, on the condition that museums exhibit the work within five years. The shows are likely to boost his already insane auction prices and with the Mugrabis quietly propping up his sales, Warhol is not going anywhere anytime soon.