Art Boom or Art Gloom: Art Market Reporters Indecisive –

Art Boom or Art Gloom: Art Market Reporters Indecisive –

I have written quite a few posts recently about the Australian art market due mostly to the fact that the art market reporters for the major newspapers here in Australia seem more concerned in attracting attention to their stories than accurate analysis of the art market. One thing that annoys me more than anything else is journalists and critics that make premature and sensationalist claims that are not only often prove to be incorrect but can be damaging to the art market. If there are indications that the art market is experiencing a decline in the rate of grown then I have no problem with this being reported as long as it is done so responsibly, accurately and truthfully.

The main issues with many of the art market reporters and journalists are their tendency to:

1. report in a style that is more focused on entertainment value
2. make assumptions based on a narrow range of data
3. make premature forecasts
4. sensationalise
5. make judgements based on second or third hand information

As an example, on the 19th of August an article published on the Bloomberg news website titled “Australia’s Art Market Draws New Collectors After Minerals Boom” said:

“The 11th Melbourne Art Fair, which ended this month, showed how vibrant Australia’s art market has become, fueled by ranks of new collectors after a six-year commodities boom in the country.

About 30,000 people viewed more than 3,000 contemporary artworks, many of them by the country’s indigenous painters. The biennial event in the World Heritage building had a record $11 million sales, a 16 percent increase on 2006. The total compares with $10 million at this year’s annual art fair in Tokyo, a city 10 times the size.“

Then, on the 26th of August, an article appeared in The Australian Newspaper titled “Now Art Reflects Strife in the Economy” which mentioned that:

“The nation’s (Australia’s) economic wobbles finally hit the art market last night when several major paintings failed to sell at Sotheby’s Melbourne auction, including an important Tasmanian landscape by early 19th-century artist John Glover.”

Did the Australian art market go from being boosted by new collectors to suffering from Australia’s economic strife in a matter of just two weeks? I don’t think so. What did happen was that the state of the whole Australian art market was judged based on one particular event and one sector of the market. Just because the Melbourne Art Fair was a success doesn’t mean that Australian art market is doing well just as the disappointing art auction results don’t indicate that the Australian art market is in decline. To accurately assess the impact or effects of a result or an event, each result and event needs to be put into context with what is happening in the art market as a whole, not just the one sector.

The art market reporters and journalists are not entirely to blame for the inconsistencies as they have deadlines and readership expectations but in the interests of accuracy and consistency I think that changes need to be made.

**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

8 Responses

  1. You are quite right, and you are also part of the solution to the problem. Effective bloggers like you are having a tremendous positive effect on journalism worldwide. Keep up the good work.

  2. Who are these investors I have an artist for over 20 years I have never met an investor in my life. People buy art because they are mates with the artist or they love the work. Mostly family who don’t want the artist member of the family to die of stavation. I am amazed by this literal mythical fantasy. If the mineral miners are buying art. I would rather the minerals stay in the ground and the beauty of Australia stay intact. Far better to have a beautiful landscape of plants and trees to paint, then a devestated landscape of where the miners have been. It seems to me that Australia is digging a hole that won’t be able to get of in a few years time.

  3. Forgive me my English which do not have very good, I am entirely of agreement with you. The problem is not that Australian, I live in Belgium, capital of Eurropéenne Union and I am artist plastics technician. I have the same observation in Europe. The sensassionalism makes receipt in the contemporary art and the art critic considers that art is very well. However, in Europe to be made recognize and like the artists the critics and journalists of arts must fight. I post my nonconformism and I criticize much the classic art that many artists without talents misuse in order to sell.
    However, it make criticize only the specialists in art; the system of the galleries is a problem too. Because, the galleries do not seek any more of the new talents but many artists who copy paintings and styles of arts which likes the ignorant public.

  4. How can you put a market value on art? I mean really, that defeats the whole purpose since Marcel Duchamp doesn’t it? Maybe we should all have another go at Monte Carlo Bond.

    check it :

  5. Thanks for the comments, I appreciate every one’s point of view. I believe that the issue of incorrect analysis and reporting of the art market is a big problem that needs to be addressed. I just hope that there are enough people out there who are not influenced by what the media say to ensure that the truth is told

    Nicholas Forrest

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  7. Am I in trouble? I’m just an artist and from my perspective the market seems more like a game of Roulette than anything else – and probably really detached from the ‘true’ artist’s original intentions. At the end of the day, people will still buy stuff if they like it. If they are buying because they are worried about what a newspaper says then maybe they should reconsider what art really means to them. It would be very be sad if this was the case.

    P.S. I like how the Crayola guy won your prize because its funny and its good – this is what it should be about, supporting good concepts and talent in art…yeah!

  8. I read your defending the art market blog and yes I agree about the good artists being immune to art market gyrations. I am inspired by the conceptual and political art strain that began in the seventies originally as a protest against the commodification of art and the power that dealers and the like have over the concepts that artists use as a result of this. I think it is funny that I have ended up reading this blog because all of the art market gyrations etc. are completely alien to artists such as myself. I do respect that fellow artists need money however so I hope you can only read my input as one opinion and also as humor. If it weren’t for Marcel Duchamp’s antics we probably wouldn’t be able to sell our wit. The other hope that I have is that at the end of the day, artists can chase up all of the royalties that they deserve. Cheers.

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