The Spectacle of the Art Market Pt. 1 –

The Spectacle of the Art Market Pt. 1 –

One of the interesting trends that has been particularly noticable during the recent current art market correction is that works that have less visual impact and are not as flamboyant are experiencing competitive bidding and high prices. Works of art that would perhaps have been overshadowed by their more visually stunning siblings are now coming to the forefront as collectors and connoisseurs approach what is on offer from a more scholarly, connoisseurial and art historical perspective. I also believe that the more sombre mood caused by the financial crisis has made people less likely to purchase overtly cheerful works of art and more likely to obtain objects that reflect the more philosophical and reflective mood that many people are currently experiencing.

When the global economy has gone to the dogs, and a large number of people are in a financially difficult position, the purchase of those shiny works of art that are typically seen as status symbols and flamboyantly excessive trophies of one’s wealth just doesn’t seem right. One may expect the opposite situation to arise where people purchase bright and cheerful works of art to make themselves happier, but this just doesn’t seem to be what happens. It seems that it is extremely difficult to justify the purchase of one of many of these “bright and shiny” trophies when one’s financial situation comes into question, which suggests that the purchase of such a work would be a bad investment (as we know so many of them are).

The contemporary art market tends to rely on immediate visual impact and instant gratification to entice people to get out their wallets. With so many artists vying for the attention and patronage of a relatively small number of collectors and investors it is not surprising that the visual impact and attractiveness of an artist’s work becomes such an important factor. The Frieze art fair is a good example of the way an artist’s work looks can have a major effect on its ability to get noticed. Not unlike a supermarket, the Frieze art fair is filled with aisle after aisle of products vying for the attention of the waves of shoppers that pass by. The dizzying array of goods on offer means that it is very easy for a particular atist’s work to get lost in the crowd. And many do. In such an environment it is undoubtedly beneficial for an artist to present their most high impact and visually stunning work as anyone who has visited a fair such as Frieze would know.

To suggest that the path that the art market can be affected to such a degree by the instinctual human attraction to bright shiny objects may sound bizarre at first but if you take some time to ponder the concept I think you will find it is not as silly as it may seem.

To be continued……….

**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

One Response

  1. Anything regarding the art world is spectacular information. Please consider a blog which illuminates where the investors are hiding. Happy Holidays!

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