Art Market Trends for 2014: Globalizing, on-line clustering, better chances for contemporary and emerging artists
The first 2014-art auctions season hit a promising start. At least for the Western art market that has seen memorable auction sales for the two major rivals Sotheby’s and Christies. The chief stirrer-up for the optimistic turn-over is the on-going uplift of the emerging markets in Asia and Russia which show increasing interest in impressionist and contemporary art, as collectors shift away from Local Artists.
There are well-sustained hopes for the contemporary and modern art market to keep gaining speed. However, the trend will positively affect only mid-priced artworks (US$25,000-US$500,000), according to the expert opinion of Fabian Bocart, President of Tutela Capital – a company producing investment strategies in the art market. Not the same with the upper market contemporary artworks primarily aimed at the richest collectors – persisting stagnation is expected.
Americas Art Trends:
US art show trends hold firmly to early modernism, with a whole lot of scheduled shows throughout the country – a Braque survey (MFA Houston), German Expressionism (Baltimore Museum of Art), Gauguin rare prints and transfer drawings (MoMA). Nevertheless, following the global art market line, US museums start launching at a more global plane, exhibiting artists as Inka Shonibare (commissioned by the Barnes Foundation), British-Nigerian artist, dedicated to exploring cultural identity, and shows as “Other Primary Structures” at the Jewish Museum, displaying abstract sculptures by numerous artists from Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
Mentioning Latin America, modern and contemporary Latin American art as a whole expected to gain more and more US market recognition, at least as summarized from the interest museums show with numerous exhibitions focused on the Latin American region – “Cruzamentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil.”( The Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio), “Beyond the Supersquare,” (Bronx Museum), “Permission To Be Global/Prácticas Globales: Latin American Art,” (MFA, Boston).
The Sotheby’s Latin American Art Auction held in late November 2013 in New York also fuels such an expectation with a sale total of more than US$21,260,000. More than 200 works by modern and contemporary Latin American artists were auctioned, with prices from the lower to the upper sales edge.
The Sotheby’s sale on the February auction totaled 163 million pounds (US$266 million), and included paintings like “Le Boulevard Montmartre, matinee de printemps” (US$32.8 million) by the French impressionist Camille Pissarro and “L’Homme est en mer”, by Vincent Van Gogh, sold for nearly US$27 million. Part of the private collection of the late Swiss dealer Jan Krugier made a significant share of the auction sales. It offered 37 items, many of which tripled their estimates, with highlights on works of Pablo Picasso and Pierre Bonnard, and took a total of US$86.9 million.
A day earlier Christie’s registered an all-time London auction sale record with almost £177m (US$290 million). Leader on the sales list was a cubist still life by Juan Gris, “Nature Morte à la Nappe à Carreaux” (1915), which sold for US$57.07 million.
Considerable numbers of art market observers keep upholding two further major trends on a global scale, stepping in the New Year from 2013. First, the online-auctioning fashion has seen a promising increase in confidence, winning more and more art bidders. Although this is mostly true for big reputable auction houses, such as the Christie’s giant, a brand new offspring of art dealers is settling in business worldwide. Indicatory keystones for the online-art sellers is likely to be the brain-teasing choice whether to stay focused on art or include design and fashion segments; whether to reach beyond European and North American market, or stay on the cozy, well-tested soil. However, the author of the above expertise opinion Clayton Press (Linn-Press Art Advisory Services) also predicts blossoming Asian art-bidders of the upper art sector are likely to keep their preferences for the classic, time-tested art auctions. “The majority of activity will still occur at auction, which (as we understand it) the Chinese believe is more transparent than galleries”, he says.
On the contrary still, Christie’s has declared an optimistic evolution of online-only art sales for the past 2013 with 45 per cent of new online buyers of an overall of 30 per cent of new buyers.
The second art market trend envisioned by experts is the growing interest of private dealers in primary markets. Promoting and selling artists directly may be not as lucrative as the secondary market deals, but it is still a fertile ground for finding new or more affordable artists, and work out a higher deal percent at lesser risk.
EMEA Art Trends:
Setting aside the world giants’ recent business success, there is more reasons to stay on the Western art-market scene. The London Art Fair (15 – 19 January) and BRAFA (25 January – 2 February) in Brussels became witnesses of collectors’ willingness to buy newer and less-expensive art, showing some stir on the middle-market sector.
On London Art Fair (21 – 25, January), showing contemporary and modern art, works from contemporary artists under 10,000 pounds (US$17,000) had the best sales performance, especially sales of prints and photography. This includes several editions from Rory Carnegie’s “Port Meadow dogs” series of photographs, for US$4,610 each; recent mixed-media works by Nancy Fouts—editions of her Eve & Eve, 2014 for US$4,444 each; several works on paper by contemporary African artist Aboudia from Ivory Coast for around US$3,300 each.
The newcomer on The London Art Fair, Whitestone Gallery from Tokio, displayed works of the famous Gutai group, the first post-war radical art stream in Japan. The Japan stand included art by artists as Chiyu Uemae and Kasuo Shiraga, priced up to 1 million pounds (US$1.65 million). Western contemporary art with artists as John Golding and Whilliam Crozier, and the earlier Gutai group seem to complement one another in an intriguing way. However, the highest hits went to a 1950s painting of Alan Davie (US$165,000), whose art is influenced by Zen philosophy, and Chiyu Uemae’s Untitled, 1978-79 (at around £70,000).
The same trend in collectors’ acquisitions is visible on BRAFA, the Brussels’ Art Fair setting on wide historical art periods – from tribal African art and classical antiquities like 16th-century Flemish tapestry, through Giacometti, Gauguin, to Damien Hirst and Christo. Moreover, although BRAFA emphasizes on non-contemporary art, its’ 2014 edition has seen an expanding share of modern and contemporary art sales. Among these, works on paper by Sam Francis, associated with the second generation of abstract expressionists sold out at the outset of the fair; two works of James Ensor, Belgian artist of important influence on expressionism and surrealism. A series of drawings of Christo from his Abu Dhabi oil drum project; small sculptures of the conceptual artist Bernard Venet.
Tribal art and especially Central African pieces proved to be another focal point of buyers’ interest, as confirmed by specialized dealers, Didier Claes form France and Jacques Germain from Canada.
Asia-Asia Pacific Art Trends:
Meanwhile on the Asian horizon two major art fairs have marked the onset of the 2014 art season, though with quite divergent success. Affirming as the leader of Asian art events, Art Stage Singapore (15th – 19th January) enjoys an increase of international galleries participating in its’ 4th edition, and what is more important, significant sales. Reaching for the art market vanguard, the founder Lorenzo Rudolf (also founder of Art Basel at Miami Beach) pre-visions a further globalization of the art world, and especially towards the East, as the global market continues shifting towards Asia. Moreover, the art fair orientation toward newer and emerging artists has proved as a strong market line.
Art Stage Singapore has been organized in ‘platforms’ of exhibitions introducing different regions – Southeast Asia, Australia, Central Asia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. It has also generated many accompanying events, organized by private galleries outside the fair itself. One of the most curious places to visit has been Singapore’s first auction, held by the oldest Japanese auction house Est-Ouest, which offered a golden life-size Japanese tea ceremony room (est. up to US$2.9 million) among other items.
The list of sold artworks on Art Stage Singapore is long. There included are a Gerhard Richter at US$787,000 (Michael Schultz Gallery); Zao Wou-Ki, abstract Chinese-French painter, at US$1.2 million (Lin & Lin Gallery); the contemporary American artist Donald Sultan’s Navy Blue March 13 at US$402,000 (Sundaram Tagore Gallery); 20 artworks of Naoko Tosa, Japanese media artist at a total of US$550,000 (Ikkan Art Gallery).
Not so pride-worthy results for the other ambitious Asian project, India Art Fair (6th edition, 30 Jan – 2 Feb, 2014, Delhi). Given the huge success of Christie’s first auction in India in 2013, bidding up the rating of modern and contemporary Indian artists (sale total US$15.4 million), India Art Fair 2014 did not manage to raise a correspondent interest. A reason for the moderate sales may be no less than the lack of distinguishable presence of contemporary artworks, observers claim. Established Indian masters as M.F.Husain and F.N.Souza have sold. Digital prints also proved to be a good performing segment, like works by Olivia Fraser, a Delhi-based British painter, who sold limited edition prints of new works.
After all, most observers of the art market envisage that for the time being established Western art markets will remain the major players on a global scale.
Article By Venelina Petkova, A Verified Pangaea Galleria Curator