Art Fairs Autumn Season 2015 - What Can be Expected?
The art fairs season is ahead of us, with many prominent art fairs that will start in the next couple of days, weeks, or months. Among them, the most popular and the most visited ones will be Frieze Art Fair in London (in October), as well as Frieze Masters London (starts day before Frieze), that will be the Mecca for the collectors of Old Masters. London will also host Moniker Art Fair during the month of October, while FIAC Paris art fair will take place in the capital of France. Starting from September, and going deep into November, several Affordable Art Fairs will be held in various places around the world, including New York, Seoul, Bristol, Stockholm, London (Battersea), Amsterdam, Singapore and Hamburg. After that, of course, the whole madness will kick-off in Miami, with tons of art fairs during the Miami Art Week, including the biggest of them all, Art Basel Miami Beach.
Art Fairs in Autumn – A Whole Different Story
If we take a look at what was happening with art fairs during spring, we will see that, overall, both the number of visitors and the number of participating galleries had a solid, if not a very good growth – number of visitors had grown for 6.8 percent, comparing the same period in 2014, while the number of galleries increased even more, 7.3 percent. However, Skate’s Art Fairs Report revealed that these results were the worst ones in 10 years, since that was the first time in a decade that galleries didn’t register a double digit growth – something that experts from Skate’s explained by the bigger focus on digital presentations, rather than spending money on art fairs’ boots. Should we expect the similar numbers this autumn? We sincerely doubt that. In fact, we are maybe standing in the beginning of the crisis of an unknown scale. Maybe the “crisis” is a pretty strong word, perhaps “the change of trends” is more suitable phrase, but nevertheless how we call it, the art world and the art market will inevitably feel the turmoils of the real economies, particularly of those that happened to the Chinese economy and stock market(s) during this summer. The question is how deep this impact will be, which we won’t know until we see in what state the Chinese economy will be during the next couple of months: will it be able to fulfill the projected annual GDP growth of 7 percent, or would it be slightly lower? Because, the state of the art market, and, thus, the success of this autumn’s art fairs as well, will depend heavily on the answer of the previous question.
The Real Economy vs. The Art Market – Who Will Win?
What’s the story? Basically, when you enter the stock market, you will find that everyone there is trading with – expectations. If some shares are having the growth trend, most of the participants are expecting of that growth to continue. Similar, if some shares are falling, the general thought about them is that they will continue to fall, and the players on the stock market will act accordingly. So, everyone is trading with expectations of the future trends, and when the shares start to come down quickly, pouring like rain, which happens during stock markets crashes, this mechanism just “helps” the stock market to go down quicker. Of course, ups and downs are happening every minute of every day on stock markets – the trouble is when these changes are unexpectedly high and affect most of the shares that are involved in trading. Since the happenings at the stock markets are usually being translated into the real economy during the period of next three to six months, by the end of the year we’ll be more certain of the consequences that Chinese stock market crash have left on the second largest economy of the world – and the global economy, as well. Because, when something bad happens to the economy that big, it affect (badly) the other countries as well, the countries that have economic cooperation with China. And on the list of those countries is, literally, every single country in the world. It also affect other stock markets around the globe, as we have seen, and, consequently, their respective economies. And when the real economy is doing bad, slowing down, stagnating or shrinking, the art market will follow this trend as well.
The Autumn is Coming
True, the art market is growing fast since the global economic crisis, and it has reached the new heights since the last check-up. But, the structure of the art market is interesting, as the biggest growth, for years now, has been seen at contemporary art. This growth was mostly driven not by the sheer love for contemporary art, but by the profits this market is offering. So, the values in the contemporary art are inflated and speculative, and these kinds of hot-aired markets are among the first ones that will go down, when the economy crisis hits. An incredibly high yearly yields of 10 to 15 percent are about to slow and shrink, sooner or later. And, according to recent data, some of the biggest names in the art world that are listed on stock markets are in the middle of a slump, as they have lost more than fifth of their value just in August, and one-third since the beginning of 2015. So, the art companies are losing money, and it is a matter of time when this slump will be spilt onto the values of artworks. When collectors and investors realize that the yields are shrinking, and that the art market is not as profitable as it used to be, they’ll switch to other directions, which could lead to a downward spiral and a domino-effect. Necessarily, this may not be a bad thing, if it will lead to a more sustainable market, apart from the fact that many people will lose a tremendous amount of money. Art fairs, galleries, auction houses, collectors and art dealers will be among them, and the best indicator of this will be the numbers that autumn art fairs will provide: the number of visitors, the number of galleries, and the money they will gather via selling artworks. You know the famous Game of Thrones sentence: “The winter is coming”. Well, the autumn is coming, as well.
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