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Stable Art Market?

  • Art Market
  • Art Market
  • Art Market
June 16, 2014
Ana Bambic Kostov is an art historian with passion for contemporary art.

Based on the many claims Art Market is in fact a bubble, it’s no wonder all the players within are wondering – if and when it’s gonna burst? The fact is contemporary art market has been expanding largely over the past decade or two, encompassing novel genres and younger and younger artists. This practice resulted in numerous galleries and dealers to be creating their own reality in terms of prices, as they have been going up without a limit in sight. As the prices of contemporary, and perhaps most controversially, new art are proved to be upwardly mobile, the bubble theory seems to be confirming itself and the valid question remains – How Stable is The Art Market?

Art Market
Robert Gober

Crash-Proof Theories

This is where numerous theories come into the light. Some of them claim the art market will not or cannot crash because the art world expanded beyond the boundaries of the West, it has gone global in fact, while art is today considered an asset and in the end, if one genre flops, there are so many others, the general crash appears practically impossible. Although most of these theories do prove good points, especially in the sense of span and diversity, a legitimate issue of stability remains, as it is, in this case in particular, inseparably linked to global economy, which has been prone to crisis.

Art Market
Thomas Ruff

Art Market is a Bubble after all?

Numerous facts on the other hand continue proving Art market an inflated bubble. The situation is aided by auction houses that have never before featured artists younger than now, with art produced only a few years before it reaches an auction room. Nobody can say with complete certainty their art will continue to rise in value. Nobody can claim it will be worth anything at all in 10 years, but the sales are as high as ever. Art is continuously marketed as an investment, rather than a permanent value to be kept, save for the seasoned collectors. In this light, the prices for young art can seem unrealistic and even blown out of proportion. More people with no real art knowledge are entering the market, looking only to earn money without any humanistic urges. Combined with the crash-proof theories, arguments for the art market actually being a bubble do balance the scale, but no winning statement has yet been confirmed. In fact, no expert can claim with an absolute confidence when or even if the [contemporary] art market will eventually crash.

Art Market
Cindy Sherman

Who survives?

The last major crash happened in the 90s during the golden age of the American gallery scene. The prices reached such a high limit, nobody wanted to buy anymore. Julian Schnabel is often mentioned as the foremost artist who suffered the crash. However, there are a few figures who survived previous market falldowns. Among them are Robert Gober, Cindy Sherman and Jeff Koons, the indestructible trio whose art has obviously entered encyclopaedias, as crucial testimony to the late 20th and early 21st century.

Seeing only true artistic values will overcome any type of art market fluctuation, it’s tricky to predict who would survive the crash that is supposedly upon us. Some say it may be Takashi Murakami, John Baldessari, Thomas Ruff, while prospects of Damien Hirst, or Elizabeth Peyton appear less promising. The truth is – predicting the outcome of the crash that has not happened yet is tricky. The whole thing may even blow over, while the market evolves and adjusts. One thing remains as an axiom – true art will always prevail.