Investing in Art: The Danger of Fads and Trends

Investing in Art: The Danger of Fads and Trends

Although the art market is a relatively insulated market there does tend to be a vulnerability that is perpetuated by the amalgamation of fine art with popular culture and the influences of commercialism and the media.  As I have said many times before, when investing in art it is primarily the artist’s career that you are investing in so it is important to be as sure as you can that their career is one that will be long lasting.  The problem with artists that take advantage of the hype often associated with popular culture is that the creations of popular culture are often short lived fads.  Taking advantage of the short lived hype associated with fads and trends is not particularly difficult, what is difficult is producing art that transcends the superficiality of our modern consumer driven society and reveals enough to evoke thoughts and emotions yet conceals enough to allow for differing opinions and interpretations. 

takashi-murakami.jpgArtist’s whose work is a result of a fad or trend will often see huge increases in price of their works in a short period of time but in the long term the value of their work will often see the same fate as the fad. Investing in this type of artist is very risky as the price spikes are often very quick and unpredictable although the rewards can be much greater but you would need to have the knowledge and information available to you so that you can gauge when to get in and when to get out. An example of such an artist is the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami whose work is centered around the current popularity of asian cartoons such as manga. Murakami’s work has shot up in price as the result of a flood of media exposure and commercial success which has caused people to question whether what he creates is actually fine art or merely merchandise. Because of this I would seriously question the long term stability and value of Murakami’s work.

In order to avoid being stung by the fads associated with consumer culture you should look at investing in artists whose work is more intellectual and thought provoking rather than just decoration. Those artists that produce work that evokes comment, thought and discussion with imagery that is open to interpretation will often find that people will come back to an image over and over again as they discover something new each time they view it. These atributes will often mean that an artists work will stand the test of time and become more valuable as it continues to reveal its secrets.

I cannot tell you how to immediately identify those artists that produce intellectual work but what I can say is that the more galleries you visit the greater your ability will become to distinguish between those artists that produce decoration and those that produce intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging fine art.

Nick**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectables for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

6 Responses

  1. I enjoyed reading your blog on investing in art. Do you think the current slow down in housing for the U.S. market will hamper or help art sales over the next year?

  2. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for the comment. I personally think that the current slowdown in housing for the us market will probably not have much of an affect on the sales of art because the people who will be significantly affected by the affordability of housing will only make up a small percentage of art buyers.

    Nicholas Forrest

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog, thanks for providing such an informative and entertaining perspective on the art market

  4. Hi Nicholas,
    I would not agree with your valuation of the superflat. I do like reading about your views however. I would like to speak with you if possible regarding your work.

  5. Interesting blog…. I am actually planning to setup an online Art Gallery for Digital Art works…. would like people to suggest me the trends in terms of sale and how they can value add this business to promote fine art across the globe.

    I am open to ideas and business tie ups with true art lovers.


  6. Great article, really enjoyed the reading! I bought a photograph by well known Australian artist Garry Orriss in 2009 for $6600 and sold it in 2010 for $9950, that’s a 45% win. Art makes me more money than my stocks and bonds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: