Precociousness Plagues Art Market –

Precociousness Plagues Art Market –

Pre*co”cious*ness\, Precocity \Pre*coc”i*ty\, n. [Cf. F. pr[‘e]cocit[‘e].] The quality or state of being precocious; untimely ripeness; premature development (

Last post I wrote about the problems associated with artist’s being prematurely promoted to art market stardom by a market that is desperate for new talent. Of particular concern is the rapid rise of many Indian and Chinese artists who have very little (if any) curatorial, critical or institutional recognition yet are selling for the sort of money that should be reserved for those artists who have proven themselves to be worthy of such prices (by having receiving curatorial, critical and institutional recognition). Just because an artist is being sold for big bucks at the current time does not guarantee that their work will ever receive the sort of recognition that would justify a continuation of their status in the market once the hype has died down. It is fair to say that the hype surrounding many of the Indian and Chinese artists will not last forever which means that those artists who are relying solely on an inflated market to define the value of their work will struggle to maintain their current prices.

Super collector Charles Saatchi often buys the work of young emerging artists whom he perceives as having the potential for future stardom and gives these artists a massive dose of media attention and desirability in the process. Although it may seem that Saatchi is doing these artists a favour by making them almost instant art world stars he is in fact exposing any artist he purchases work by to potentially career ending risks. Let me explain. Because Charles Saatchi is such an influential collector there is a tendency for other collectors and dealers to buy what he buys but there is also a tendency for other collectors and dealers to question that value of an artist’s work when Saatchi sells their work or appears to lose interest in their work. This may not be an issue for those artists who have other patrons and the curatorial, critical and institutional recognition to support the value of the work but, for young emerging artists whose position within the market is based almost solely on the interest from one collector, the results can be catastrophic. One of the many examples of the negative impact Saatchi has had on an artist’s career is that of the Italian figurative painter Sandro Chia. Saatchi purchased a number of works by Chia en masse in the 1980’s raising the profile of the artist significantly but shortly after buying these works Saatchi sold the works by Chia. This one event caused the price of Chia’s work to plummet and his gallery to drop him from which the artist never really recovered.

The moral of the story is that the curatorial, critical and institutional recognition are extremely important for the long term value of an artist’s work so be extremely careful of investing in those artists who do not have the credentials to back up the value of their work in a market that could become extremely selective and discerning at any time. Always remember that current price is by no means a determinant of future value.

**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 Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

7 Responses

  1. Man you hate Saatchi… don’t you know he only started collecting good artists in the 90’s?

  2. Is it worse to have loved and lost than to never have been loved at all?

  3. Hi James,

    I actually don’t had Saatchi, I just think that some of his practices are questionable. Saatchi does lots of good things for contemporary art which should not be ignored but I questions whether one person having so much power and influence is such a good thing

    Nicholas Forrest

  4. Hi Joe,
    It is definitely worse to have loved and lost than to never have been loved at all but it’s how one goes from loved to lost that concerns me

    Nicholas Forrest

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  6. This is an interesting post, & as you rightly pointed out there are many Indian artists producing art of questionable quality who are being promoted actively. The big question is how long can they sustain themselves on hype alone!
    But, I’m sure these are issues that are likely to plague any nascent market & where big money is involved.

    Nalini S Malaviya

  7. Hi Nalini, thanks for the comment. You are right that these are issues that are likely to plague and nascent market where big money is involved. Having experienced such rapid art market growth has resulted in India and China being the most affected countries.

    Nicholas Forrest

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