The Rise of Victorian Paintings Pt. 2 –

The Rise of Victorian Paintings Pt. 2 –

The availability and affordability of top Victorian paintings during the first half of the 20th Century allowed a select few collectors to corner the market and put together amazing collections of major historical and cultural significance. A short resurgence of interest in the Victorian era during the 60’s, particularly in the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, saw even more of the few remaining top Victorian paintings go to private American and British collectors. With so many of the best that the Victorian era had to offer hidden away in the private collections of a few wealthy individuals, the market was left with an abundance of second and third rate works. Considering that a majority of the Victorian era’s top works of art were hidden for so long behind closed doors, it is no wonder that Victorian era paintings suffered such a poor reputation for so long.

With no financial or other incentive to sell works from their collection, most of the paintings snapped up during the first half of the 20th century, and the 60’s revival, remained in the hands of collectors and behind closed doors. Death, debt and disaster proved to be the saving graces for the market as a variety of unfortunate circumstances led to a number of the best private collections of Victorian paintings being released back onto the market after spending decades out of sight and out of mind. The auction houses love nothing more than a single owner collection that has not been exposed to the market for decades and, as these collections began to become available, spared no effort in making them seem as desirable as possible.

The first of the major collections of Victorian paintings to make an impact on the market was that of American millionaire Fred Koch who, in 1993, sold his major collection of Victorian paintings which consisted mainly of narrative work by artists such as Alma-Tadema, Tissot and Lord Leighton. Koch is thought to have made the decision to sell his collection after plans to open a museum in London were somewhat affected by a huge fire at a storage facility that housed most of the furnishings for the museum, as well as Koch’s collection of Bronzes, all of which were destroyed. The devastation of the fire is rumored to have been so disheartening for Koch that he lost his passion for Victorian paintings. Koch began by selling some of his collection in Britain through Sotheby’s and achieved some success, particularly with a 7ft painting of the Emperor Heliogabalus drowning his courtiers in rose petals by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema which sold for 1,651,500 pounds. Also achieving a high price was a painting by Sir Frank Dicksee of a a seventh-century Persian heroine reclining on cushions with a vase of lilies by her side which sold for 793,500 pounds. It was, however, in New York that works from Koch’s collection received the best reception with Christie’s selling Tissot’s “L’Orphine” for a record US$2,970,000. A few months later further works from Koch’s collection were entrusted to Sotheby’s New York who sold Alma-Tadema’s “Baths of Carcalla” for a record US$2,532,500.

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

Network of Arts and Culture Websites Creates New Model for Online Publishing –

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brigid Brown, Publicist

Cell) 551.358.1058

Network of Arts and Culture Websites Creates New Model for Online Publishing

“Life in the arts has taught (Kathryn) Born that you can’t have a life in the arts unless you’re ‘able to work for free or almost nothing.’ She thinks that’s wrong … “

Chicago Reader, January 2010

The network of websites that comprise Chicago Art Map and Chicago Art Magazine are not simply local websites but a case study for a new model of online publishing.


“Print media is in a mindset that online publishing is simply posting on a screen rather than printing on paper,” says Kathryn Born, founder of the CAM. “It’s rarely utilizing the internet’s capabilities to connecting the story ancillary data and deeper pools of information. It doesn’t harness the power of online distributions, which can categorize and deliver content to the audience — in the exact moment and form they wish to receive it.”

What does that have to do with Chicago Art Map? The network stands as a proof-of-concept of new publishing through several scenarios.  The key example is that Chicago has 300 art venues and countless events every week. Comprehensive lists are ideal, but unwieldy.

The answer? Put all the information into a database instead of a list. Put a Google Map layer on top, add images, and code additional software tools so the events can be sorted and filtered.

The result? Search an art map by geographical range or  exhibit type (a museum vs. a gallery or alternative art space) or type of art or type of event. Sort alphabetically or by neighborhood,   location, specialty and filtered by date and geography.

For Chicago Art Magazine, footnotes are back in style using “hovering” tools, paragraphs of extra information expand with a click to instantly reveals more information (without refreshing the page).   And images! Since ink is no longer a cost factor, they’re abundant, and expand to full size when clicked upon.

Chicago Art Magazine doesn’t publish monthly, it publishes twice a day. Each piece is pushed out to over 5,000 Facebook and Twitter followers.

It’s operational budget, for what would-be a 200 page magazine, is only $1,700 a month. Every dime goes to writers, editors and staff. No rent, no paper, no trucks. Suddenly, an advertising-based model that only requires $2000 per month to support freelancers and stay in the black, is attainable, often with sole-sponsorship deals that provide a blast of coverage for only a few sponsors each month.

“‘Advertorial; content is permissible, but only if it’s fully disclosed in every instance,” is the policy of the magazine, as they are supported with “sponsored posts” along with graphic advertisements.

Most unusual, yet still in accordance with the Open source (software) background that prepared Kathryn Born for the task, is the idea of freely sharing ideas so that others can build upon what was learned. A tab called “transparency” reveals everything from tech tricks, to philosophy and budgets. A weekly blog gets into even smaller details about editorial and survival


The site speaks to all tiers of art fans whether a seasoned collector or a newbie looking to go out on a Friday evening. This breadth of reviews is credited to the aptly named “Friday Night Army” which is a team of critics, released onto the city, with the mission to report back on what is seen and heard in their own voice. “The editorial goal is to write about art in a simple, lively way, using pictures, video and audio,” says Born. “Our belief is that writing about art can be a literary style that’s as colorful as the art we describe.”

Chicago Art Magazine ~ Reviews & Features

Chicago Art Map ~ One-Stop-Shop Gallery Finder

The Chicago Art Machine speaks to all tiers of art fans whether it is a collector on the prowl for the latest discovery or a newbie looking to branch out. This breadth can be credited to the aptly named “Friday Night Army” which is a team of critics, released onto the city, with the mission to report back on what is seen and heard in their own voice.

Some features are more mainstream like, “The Bath Haus of Gaga” and others more niche-y but still accessible such as, “A Crash of Critters at Fill in the Blank”. No matter what genre, each article is informative and as a whole the network feels like a mini-course in art history. After a short time of perusing the sites, visitors will walk away knowing way more than when they started.

“The editorial goal is to write about art in a simple, lively way with a whole bunch of pictures, video and audio,” says Born. “The belief is that writing about art can be a literary style that’s as colorful as the art we describe.”

Kathryn Born is the Editor-in-Chief of the online Chicago Art Magazine and oversees Born breaking off to start her own network of sites, Born had created the blog Art Talk Chicago for the Chicago Tribune-sponsored network of blogs called

If you plan to run a review and/or would like to set up an interview with Kathryn Born, please contact: Brigid Brown @ 551.358.1058 or

Visit us online at:


Boo Saville at Trolley Gallery –

Boo Saville at Trolley Gallery –

One of my favourite young artists, Boo Saville, is currently having her work exhibited by Trolley Gallery in London. Saville’s interest in the visual representation of death has been a recurring theme in her work which she has continued to explore in this new body of work. What I love about Saville’s work is that she doesn’t just express herself through the image it’s self but also uses the medium she is working at the time to add another dimension of emotion and effect to her work. The gestures, textures and the different physical properties of her chosen medium are all used to great effect to convey the message and emotion that Saville is aiming for. It is her amazing understanding of the tools of her trade that make Saville such an effective and encapsulating artist whose work is sure to impress. Definitely an exhibition worth checking out.

Exhibition Summary:
Trolley Gallery is proud to present a second solo show by artist Boo Saville. Entitled ‘Totem’, this new body of work encapsulates the unifying anthropological and archeological aspects evident in her work, and her representation of the deceased captured through an exploration of various forms of mark-making, itself a reflection of human expression and representation. Saville constantly researches source material from a wide variety of documentary and scientific origins; books, journals and resources such as the Wellcome Institute. The internet also offers an almost limitless exploration of imagery and keywords, the small, often low resolution images becoming the direct subject matter in the final work, where the colours and often gnarled compositions of a deceased human translate into a delicate and detailed painting and drawing. “There is beauty and creativity in the process of destruction. I am interested in decay not as a negative reduction but as a unifying symbol of matter, of our bodies. There is a clarity for me when something is stripped down to the bare bones and studied or just observed.”
Trolley Books
73a Redchurch Street
E2 7DJ

tel +44(0)20 7729 6591
fax +44(0)20 7739 5948

**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

20/21 British Art Fair Report –

20/21 British Art Fair Report –

BAF_logoThe 20/21 British Art Fair held at the Royal College of Art building was a great event that attracted plenty of admirers (and buyers) with a wide variety of fantastic art. Sales at the fair were reported to be quite good and the atmosphere was very positive. Most of what was on offer was the work of well known British modern artists such as Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland, L.S.Lowry , Mary Feddon and Ivon Hitchens etc. , which would make sense considering that the market for contemporary art (21st century) has suffered so much. Perhaps the show should have been called the 20/20 British Art Fair instead of the 20/21 British Art Fair.

The Modern British market did not experience the same level of price inflation that other movements/markets experienced during the boom, and consequently did not suffer as much when the art market downturn took place. As a result, demand for top quality works by Modern British artists that are fresh to the market has remained high even though the number of works being sold at auction has dropped considerably. A major increase in demand for works by Modern British artists between 2006 and 2008 did produce a large spike in the number of works sold, but the market has since levelled out and is on a much less rapid and vertical trajectory.


Mary Fedden RA (b. 1915) ‘Bowl of Fruit’, 2008, oil on canvas, 60 x 50 cmMary Fedden RA (b. 1915) ‘Bowl of Fruit’, 2008, oil on canvas, 60 x 50 cm

The lack of an international profile combined with a primarily British clientele has somewhat limited the extent to which the Modern British market can grow. By no means are the British Modern artists any less talented or worthy of being purchased than their American or European counterparts. In fact, I would suggest that the British artists are not given anywhere near the recognition and praise that they deserve. Part of the problem is that the Modern British market is driven by discerning British collectors who are quite discreet and are generally not willing to pay any more for a work of art than they believe it is worth. A lot more visibility from collectors and buyers along with a considerably less reserved attitude to the contributions of their great Modern artists would go a long way to promoting the work of Modern British artists to a wider audience. The same enthusiasm for Modern British artists that was shown for the work of the YBA’s, for instance, is what is needed.

What has kept the market afloat is the fact that there is a high demand for top quality works which collectors are more willing to fight for and pay comparatively more for. More and more people are beginning to recognise the British Modern market as an undervalued and underappreciated market that hides relatively undiscovered talent. Once the art market recovers from the correction it will be interesting to see what happens.

**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.

Location Matters for Art Sales-

Location Matters for Art Sales-

coffee-barAt a recent art auction that I attended here in Australia a couple of prints by Sybil Andrews attracted huge amounts of interest resulting in both selling for well above their estimates. This wasn’t really surprising considering the level of interest that there seems to be in the work of Sybil Andrews at the moment. What was surprising, however, was the estimates given by the auction house for each of the works. The first print auctioned was:

“Coffee Bar”
linocut in 4 colours, 1952
signed, titled and editioned 20/60
8 x 9 in, 20.3 x 22.9 cm
Estimate: AUD $5000 – $7000
Sold for AUD $9000

and the second was:

linocut in 3 colours, 1959
signed, titled and editioned 10/60
11 7/8 x 11 3/4 in, 30.2 x 29.8 cm
Estimate: AUD $7000 – $9000
Sold for AUD $8000

With Andrews being a Canadian artist I did a bit of research into the market for her work in Canada and found some rather interesting information. In November 2008 the same two prints were sold one after the other, just as they were in Australia, at an auction in Canada conducted by Heffel Fine Art Auction House. “Coffee Bar” sold for $17,550.00 CAD ($20,416.48 AUD) against an estimate of $10,000 ~ $15,000 CAD (11,676.89 AUD to 17,515.34 AUD) and then “Grader” sold for $8,775.00 CAD (10,249.81 AUD) against an estimate of $6,000 ~ $8,000 CAD ($7,006.36 AUD to $9,341.81 AUD). What is particularly interesting is that Heffel gave a considerably higher estimate to “Coffee Bar” than they did “Grader” where as here in Australia a slightly higher estimate was given to “Grader” over “Coffee Bar”. Why did this happen?. Well, without having asked the auction houses myself I cannot be 100% certain but I think I have a pretty good idea. Because these two works are inspired by a particular place in Canada where the artist lived it would be safe to assume that these works would have a different significance to Canadians than they would to Australians.

Considering that both prints are of the same edition size and same condition the difference in the estimates between the two prints in the Heffel auction would have to be due to another factor. Size can’t be a factor because “Grader” is larger than “Coffee Bar” which would have meant that the estimate for “Grader” would have been higher than “Coffee Bar” if size was a factor in this auction whereas the opposite was the case. Provenance couldn’t be a factor because neither print has a provenance that would be make the provenance of one print more valuable than the other. Even the year each of these prints was produced is quite close with “Coffee Bar” having been produced in 1952 and “Grader” in 1959. The difference in date may have been a contributing factor to the assigned values considering that the earlier work has a higher estimate but the effect on price would not be that great. Having ruled out the potential for the above factors to have had an effect on the price paid for these works the only real remaining factor is subject matter. There must have been something about the subject of “Coffee Bar” that had a greater significance for Canadian collectors.

The two prints sold in the Australian auction have the same credentials as the two prints sold in Canada with both having come from the same private collection and being of the same condition etc. Here in Australia, however, the estimates provided by the auction house suggest that the Australian market has different priorities and that the significance of each of these works differs to that of the Canadians. First of all, the subject matter appears to be of much less importance to Australian buyers than the Canadian buyers judging by the fact that the estimates provided for “Grader” and “Coffee Bar” are much closer together and do not seem to have been assigned due to the subject matter. In fact, the fact that the larger print has a higher estimate would suggest that the auction house thought that size of the work was of more importance than the subject matter. Date appears not to have been a factor because the later work has a lower estimate which is at odds with the higher value usually given to earlier works.

So, had the person who sold the two Sybil Andrews prints in Australia made arrangements for the works to be sold in Canada or had they marketed the sale of the works in Canada they may have been able to obtain a higher price. The potential for a higher price would be much greater for “Coffee Bar” as this work is obviously considered to be of greater value in Canada than “Grader”. In fact, the top price paid for a copy of “Coffee Bar” was reached in February 2008 in Canada where number 54 of the edition of 60 sold for $27,500 CAD ($31,771.11 AUD) which was, interestingly enough, achieved by an online auction conducted by Heffel auctions. Instead of the $9000 AUD achieved for “Coffee Bar” in Australia, the Australian seller of this work may have been able to get up to three times as much for the same work in Canada.

The amount of money you can get from the sale of a work of art can depends on many different things including the location of the sale. To maximise the potential sale price one needs to take into consideration the best location for the sale as the value of a particular work may be considerably different in different countries. If you aren’t interested in return on return on investment then the hassle of selling in another country may deter you from selling overseas but if maximising the sale price is important to you then the location of the sale should be carefully considered.


Sybil Andrews
CPE 1898 – 1992 Canadian

Coffee Bar
linocut in 4 colours 1952
signed, titled and editioned 20/60
8 x 9 pouces  20.3 x 22.9cm

**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.

Hard Art Market Data Tells Real Story –

Hard Art Market Data Tells Real Story –

Dissecting Christie’s Feb 09 Art Auction Pt. 3

See part one here:

See part two here:

numbersA few weeks ago I posted details of the sold lots from the Christie’s February 2009 Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale along with details relating to previous auction sale activity for each sold lot.  The reason that I did this was to show that there is usually far more to a sale than the sold by lot and sold by value percentages will tell you which is definitely the case with the Christie’s February 2009 Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale.  One of the more interesting lots was “Dans la prairie”‘ by Monet which fetched £11,241,250 against an estimate of around £15 million pounds.  Although this work failed to reach it’s estimate it did sell for slightly more than the last time it appeared at auction in 1999 but was well down on the £14,300,000 that it fetched at auction in 1988.

Overall, 83% of lots were sold by number and 88% sold by value for a total of £63.4 million pounds which doesn’t appear to be too bad considering the current state of the art market but doesn’t appear too good when compared with the £105,372,000 realised at the same sale in 2008. To get a real sense of how the auction went one needs to look at a more complete set of data. Using the data that I collected of the 47 lots that were offered:
-39 were sold
-5 sold for less than the last time they were sold at auction
-9 sold for more than the last time they were sold at auction
-24 had no previous auction sale data which means that they had either never been sold at auction or had not been sold for a considerable amount of time (20+ years)
-1 had been previously sold at auction but had failed to sell
-3 sold below estimate
-22 sold within estimate
-14 sold above estimate

What we can tell from this information is that the success of the auction may be partly due to the high percentage of works that were fresh to market (ie. have not appeared on the market for 20+ years). Most auction result databases such as only go back 20 years at most which means that if there is no record of a work appearing at auction it has either never appeared at auction before or has not appeared for a long period of time.

Different journalists and media sources will often portray differing opinions relating to the success of auction sales which doesn’t really help anyone. The reason that I conducted this analysis is to show exactly what sort of hard data relating to the success of an auction can be freely obtained and used to form a clear and precise picture of the sale.

I, myself am definitely a numbers person. Facts, figures and information get me excited which is why I focus on the art market as opposed to critiquing art.  It is all well and good to provide an opinion about the state of the art market or the success of the auction but if you can’t back up that opinion with data then that opinion doesn’t really serve any purpose other than to provide some form of entertainment.  In the end, facts, figures and information tell the true story……………….

**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.

Ana Prvacki Performance Video –

Ana Prvacki Performance Video –

In September last year during the Sydney Biennale, at the request of New Art TV, I interviewed Singapore based, Serbian born artist Ana Prvacki. As part of the Biennale, Prvacki performed a work titled “Music Derived Painkiller” which involved the collection of saliva from a flute performance. Intrigued?. If so, check out the interview that I did with Ana here:

You can also find out more about Ana and her work here:


**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.

Sigmar Polke at Editions Schellmann –

Sigmar Polke at Editions Schellmann –

polke1German artist Sigmar Polke is undoubtedly one of the most important and influential artists of the post-war generation. Polke is often grouped with other important German artists such as Keifer, Penck, Richter and Immendorf all of whom were part of the Neo-Expressionist movement. The Neo-Expressionist movement developed in the late 70’s as a reaction to the minimalist and conceptual art that had been a dominant force in the art world during the 70’s. The Guggenheim website defines Neo-Expressionism as: “Rejecting the restrictions against imagery and gestural treatment set by their Minimalist and Conceptual teachers and contemporaries, the Neo-Expressionists revived the formal elements of German Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism”

The market for Polke’s work has risen significantly since 2004 and, according to, continues to rise. The price index shows that 100 EUR invested in 1998 in a work of Sigmar POLKE would have an average value of 330 EUR in December 2008.  The auction record for a work by Polke is (GBP2,708,000 / US$5,321,220) which was set in February 2007 for the work “Strand” against an estimate of GBP800,000 – 1,200,000.  A major exhibition of Polke’s work that was held at the Tate Modern in London in 2004 may well have contributed to the increase in desirability of Polke’s work at a time when the art market boom was just beginning to really take hold. To own a work by Polke is a privilege that not many people have the opportunity of experiencing so the opportunity to be able to own a work by Polke for less than US$1000 would be too good to pass up. The prestigious Edition Schellman gallery has provided such an opportunity by offering one of Polke’s limited edition silkscreens for half price. “Oase” 1998 is an edition of 70 that measures 70x50cm and is signed and numbered by the artist. A mere 600 EUR (around US$770) plus shipping will secure this fantastic work by an extremely important and desirable artist. If you are interested in owning your very own work of art by Polke you can find the contact details for Edition Schellman here. There is only one work available at this special price so if you are interested you had better get in quick!!

**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.

The Market for Neo-Impressionism –

The Market for Neo-Impressionism –

"Le Bec du Hoc, Grandcamp" 1885

Georges Seurat: "Le Bec du Hoc, Grandcamp" 1885

Neo-Impressionism is the specific name given to the Post-Impressionist work of Seurat and Signac and their followers. The work of the Neo-Impressionists is characterised by the use of tiny dots or dabs of paint which, when viewed from a distance, appear to the viewer as being mixed.

The neo-impressionist masterpieces on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan in New York can still be seen at the Palazzo Reale in Milan up to January 25 2009 in the exhibition Georges SEURAT, Paul SIGNAC and the Neo-impressionists.

Seurat and Signac met in 1884 at the first Salon des Indépendants. This meeting marked the official birth of neo-impressionism. Georges SEURAT was the real instigator of pointillism, a painting technique inspired by the chemist Eugène Chevreul’s discoveries on how colour is perceived. Seurat died prematurely in 1891 and only explored pointillist technique over 7 years. The style was taken up and made known in France by Paul SIGNAC, Camille PISSARRO, Albert DUBOIS-PILLET, Charles ANGRAND, Henri Edmond CROSS and Maximilien LUCE, and in Belgium by Henry VELDE van de and Théo RYSSELBERGHE van.

The market for Georges SEURAT is very small: only 27 paintings have been put up for auction in 20 years, 26 studies and only one masterpiece. Seurat’s only centrepiece is Paysage, l’île de la Grande Jatte, a preparatory piece for the founding work of Pointillism, Un Dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte (1884-1886), which is currently in the Art Institute of Chicago. Paysage, l’île de la Grande Jatte, which fetched USD 32m at Sotheby’s NY in May 1999, still holds the record for the movement. Since then, his best sale price was for Au divan japonais, a pencil and gouache drawing that went for USD 5.5m at Sotheby’s Paris on December 3 2008.

The rarefaction of Seurat’s works has tended to boost price levels of other neo-impressionists, and Paul SIGNAC in particular. Signac’s price indices, for example, rose by 138% between 1998 and December 2008 and bids over a million are increasing: in 2008, nine paintings went for more than a million dollars compared to six in 2007. 2007 was an exceptional year for the neo-impressionist market and price records were broken. The following were among the new records hit that year: Maximilien LUCE’s La Seine au pont Saint-Michel went for USD 2.5m (May 9 2007, Christie’s NY), Paul SIGNAC’s Cassis, Cap Canaille a typical painting from his pointillist period sold for USD 12.5m (November 6, Christie’s NY), and Camille PISSARRO’s exceptional quadryptique illustrating the four seasons fetched USD 13m (November 6, Christie’s NY). The estimate of this artwork has tremendously doubled since its last auction in November 1991 at Christie’s.

Today, an accomplished Pissarro work goes for between USD 400,000 and 4m. For between USD 5,000 and 20,000, enthusiasts of the genre might find a watercolour drawing by Henri Edmond CROSS or a painting by a less famous artist like Louis HAYET.

Neo-impressionism’s price levels rose constantly over 10 years, reaching a peak in January 2008 (+142% between January 1998 and January 2008 ) but fell off significantly in the following months. After the collapse in the autumn 2008 sales, the movement’s price index fell by almost 23%, returning to its 2004 level (according to the Artprice index calculated on January 6 2009).

Georges Seurat
Le Bec du Hoc, Grandcamp 1885

**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.

Art Market Correction Survival Tactics –

Art Market Correction Survival Tactics –

survivalLet’s face it, art auctions are mainly about two things – money and excitement. Best suited to those buyers who don’t care what they buy as long as it is a potentially profitable bargain, art auctions are far more beneficial to the investor than to the collector. Auctions are not really suited to collectors at all because a collector usually looking for specific works which means that they don’t have the option of bidding on a different work or a work by another artist if the one they are after goes beyond their budget. Although a bargain may be picked up by a collector, the likelihood of the next work they want to purchase exceeding the estimate is just as likely. What this means is that if the collector is willing to pay what ever it takes to acquire a work for their collection, the bargains that they may have acquired at other auctions could effectively be canceled out. In the end it would probably have been far better for the collector to have purchased from a gallery where the prices are relatively stable and the pressure involved in making a purchase is far less.

When times are good and the art market is full of speculators and trophy hunters the art auction industry buzzes with excitement and anticipation as records are broken and money seems to be in endless supply.  When a financial crisis influences the market and causes buyers to be far more cautious the art auction industry looses much of it’s lustre.  When the art market no longer offers the same excitement or the same potential for making a quick buck and the acquisition of a trophy work doesn’t carry the same cachet, the factors that make the auction method of conducting a transaction attractive begin to subside.  It is at this point that the gallery and the art fair start looking like a much better option for buyers owing to the fact that fairs and galleries don’t require split second decisions and allow for time to engage with a work of art and time for making a decision.

One of the major benefits that galleries and art fairs have over the auction industry is the ability to educate clients and potential clients as well as allowing them to interact with artists. Education and interaction give clients and potential clients the opportunity to actually experience the artist and their work, the effects of which can be extremely positive. It is easy to underestimate the impact that education and interaction with an artist can have on a potential buyer but when you have worked in the art industry you quickly realise how powerful education and interaction can be. The financial crisis has meant that those galleries that could stick pictures on the wall then sit back and watch the money roll in can no longer do so and are having to work extra hard for their sales. Potential customers need to be convinced that they are making the right decision which is where the education and interaction with an artist come into play in a big way.

Evidence of how important the role of education and interaction can be for an art related business was evident at the 2008 SOFA expo ( in Chicago which was held this past November. The SOFA expo is an International Exposition of Sculptural Objects and Functional art or in other words, contemporary decorative arts and design. According to the post expo press release the expo was a major success with high attendance figures and reports of extremely strong sales which were driven in part by the educational component of the fair. Lectures, panels and artist conversations were a major part of the expo and undoubtedly played a major part in it’s success. “There’s a spill-over effect to sales when one of my artists speak,” said exhibitor Charon Kransen, who saw a bounce from Simon Cottrell’s lecture enjoyed by 115 attendees. “My loyal clientele keeps returning,” Kransen added.

Those galleries and dealers who are able to utilise the tools that they have at their disposal and use a bit of ingenuity stand the best chance of surviving the art market correction. Those galleries and dealers that refuse to adapt to the conditions and do not recognise the areas in which they can make improvements or adaptations to maximise sales will be the first casualties of the correction, and rightly so.

**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.

Jenny Holzer and Feminist Art –

Jenny Holzer and Feminist Art –

"Rib Cage" by Jenny Holzer

"Rib Cage" by Jenny Holzer

The work of Jenny Holzer, one of the most influential and most important artists of her generation,  is currently the subject of a major retrospective that has been organised by the Chigago MCA and the Fondation Beyeler.  The exhibition, titled “Jenny Holzer: PROTECT PROTECT” focuses on the last fifteen years of her career from the mid 1990’s to the present which consists primarily of her signature electronic text works. According to the Chicago MCA “For more than thirty years, Jenny Holzer’s work has paired text and installation to examine emotional and societal realities. Her choice of forms and media brings a sensate experience to the contradictory voices, opinions, and attitudes that shape everyday life. The 1990s heralded a turn in Holzer’s practice toward greater visual and environmental presence. In this exhibition, which centers on her work from the mid-1990s to the present, Holzer joins political bravura with formal beauty, sensitivity, and power.”

Major retrospectives usually give a boost to the value of an artist’s work and increase their profile so now would be a good time to invest in a work by Holzer. The work of artists such as Holzer who have been influenced by the Feminist art movement that began in the early 70’s is considered to be highly undervalued. The feminist art movement is considered to be of such importance that it is often credited with having influenced much of today’s artistic practice but prices for such works do not yet reflect this as yet. Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger and Louise Lawler were also highly influenced by the feminist movement and are usually grouped together along with Holzer as an example of the way that the feminist movement has been carried on. Just like Holzer, all the above mentioned artists are also considered to be undervalued. In fact, the work of most female artists is highly undervalued with the only question being when will the work of female artists be given the attention and recognition that it deserves?. Well, the good news is signs are that work by feminist artists and female artists in general is beginning to receive that well overdue attention and recognition by museums and other academic establishments. This has resulted in a much greater value being put on the work of female and feminist artists and a market for such works that continues to improve.

Holzer’s cv is extensive (see here) and her work is worthy of being considered an extremely good investment. Holzer originals can be purchased from the Chiem Read gallery which represents Holzer. The gallery’s website can be found here:

For those of you whose budget does not stretch to an original, here are a couple of limited edition works that are extremely affordable and a great investment.

Jenny Holzer
Gallery: Cheim & Read
You Are My Own
Color inkjet print on gallery gloss paper
8-� x 9 inches
Edition: 100
Price: $1500

Jenny Holzer
International Silver 1810 Cream Soup Spoon
Sterling Silver
.75″ x 6.25″ x 1.75″
Edition of 100 with 10 artist proofs

The Jenny Holzer retrospective “Jenny Holzer: PROTECT PROTECT” runs until the 1st of February at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.  More details can be found here:

**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.

The Art Market is Not Immune –

The Art Market is Not Immune –

vaccine2There are lots of things that bother me about the way that art investment and the art market are portrayed. One of the things that bothers me quite a bit is the frequency of which the art market is referred to as being immune to economic or financial turmoil. To say that the art market is immune to the economy or financial turmoil is not entirely untrue depending on how you interpret the statement or the situation in which the statement is made, however, it is definitely not the whole truth and is often a misleading statement. The art market is a very unique market that reacts to certain events and factors in a way that does not correlate with the way most other investment markets would react. Because of this, the potential for people to incorrectly identify or mistake certain market movements, events or characteristics as evidence that the art market is totally immune to these events is quite high. This is not to say that there are not situations where the art market does display immunity but it is not usually to anywhere near the extent that is many people believe. There also seems to be many people who presume that because one particular artist, artwork, movement or regional art market appears immune to an economic downturn or financial crisis that the whole art market is immune.

As much as I want to advocate art as an investment and the art market I don’t see how misrepresenting the art market and art investment can be a positive move which is why I want to set the record straight. It is virtually impossible for the whole art market to be immune to a financial crisis such as the one we are experiencing at the moment because the crisis is having an effect on so many people and so many of the other investment markets that it is going to have to filter through to the art market at some point. The art market is often referred to as an isolated market which basically means that it has limited connections with other investment markets or, in technical jargon, it has a low correlation with other assets. As a result, the art market is said to not feel the effects of negative movements in other markets to the same extent as markets that have a much stronger connection with the market experiencing the negative movements. Once again, it is virtually impossible for the global art market to not be effected by the fluctuations experienced by other markets as there is always going to be some sort of a connection. The art market does, however, often have a less severe reaction to the movements of other markets and can even have a totally opposite reaction or not react at all. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that the art market has a low correlation with other assets because a low correlation does not mean that that there is no connection between the art market and other markets just that the relationship is not as strong as relationships between other asset classes.

Although the global art market is often incorrectly referred to as being immune to economic and financial turmoil there are certain circumstances under which the art market can exhibit characteristics that would suggest that it is immune to negative economic and financial market movements. There are also situations where the art market could genuinely be referred to as being immune. Because the art market is relatively illiquid compared to other asset classes there is usually not enough time for the art market to react to short term fluctuations in markets such as the highly liquid stock market where trading can take a matter of seconds. The art market can also take much longer to react to more severe and wide ranging financial and economic downturns such as the one we are experiencing at the moment which can trick people into thinking that it won’t react at all.

It is also important to recognise the fact that the art markets of different countries often have a low correlation with each other which means that even though the art market of one country may have been affected by a certain economic or financial event that the art market of another country may exhibit a very minor reaction or may not react at all. For example, at the moment the art market in Dubai and neighbouring areas appears to be have been affected very little by the current financial crisis where plenty of money appears to still be available for the purchase of art. It is also possible for particular movements or types of art to react differently than other movements or types of art. Contemporary art has benefited the most from the recent art market boom and as such has also been the most affected by the current financial crisis. Because speculation is far less common when it comes to the market for old master paintings and the value of old master paintings is much more verifiable and justifiable the market tends to be far more stable and less volatile. Although the market for old masters is not immune to market downturns they are often used as a hedge because they react far less to economic downturns than other sectors of the art market and other asset classes. Once again certain painters or certain artists whose work falls under the category of “old master” may exhibit characteristics that suggest that they are immune to economic downturns but a few examples cannot be used as a representation of the whole market for old master paintings.

In summary, suggesting that the global art market is immune to financial crises and economic turmoil is generally incorrect and misleading. There are certain circumstances and situations where a particular country’s art market or a certain sector of the art market could be considered to be exhibiting immunity to certain investment market related events.  Just don’t be fooled into believing that an investment in art is a total and infallible  hedge against an economic downturn.

**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.