Art in the 1990s: the globalisation of the art market

The Cartier Foundation in Paris is currently hosting an exhibition dedicated to Congolese paintings. By tracing these works that have been created in a period spanning nearly one century, “Beauté Congo – 1926-2015 – Congo Kitoko” aims to reveal the artistic richness of Congolese artists. This exhibition is part of a larger craze for contemporary art coming from the African continent. Giles Peppiatt, expert in contemporary African art at Bonhams, describes Africa as “the China of tomorrow”, making reference to its growing art market. The large auction houses such as Bonhams and Sotheby’s are very interested in artists coming from the African continent, with the goal of uncovering new talents. This interest is very recent and due to a general movement towards globalisation of the art market. It has operated since 1990 under numerous factors: economic growth in certain Third World countries, put in place by democratic regimes and the development of the Internet and tools of communication. As Raymond Moulin emphasises: the art market has become a global market that no longer functions as national markets juxtaposed alongside one another. This evolution was an upheaval, profoundly modifying the economic model of the art market. The notion of globalisation can be used to account for its upheavals: it is a trend that unifies the markets. In order to understand the current art market, it is necessary to question this notion: it is necessary to understand is origins but also to establish its degree. Is it total globalisation or does the art market retain a certain heterogeneity? Has the attraction of “exoticism” totally modified the existing hierarchy in the art market? The 1990s were the occasion for important geopolitical upheavals – notably with the fall of the Soviet Union – which have allowed for non-Western artists to make their creations known. The Chinese example can illustrate...

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How globalised is today’s ‘global art market’

The art market is globalised: this is a fact. Fairs are organised across the world, bidders from all four corners of the earth fill the auction houses of New York and London, with internationally renowned works landing in the hands of the market’s biggest buyers. The phrase “Global Art Market” is so well-registered in the minds of art lovers and the media, that it is used seemingly incessantly. Today China, Latin America and the Middle East are among the major players in the field, with not an insignificant portion of the countries’ wealth reportedly invested in art. But the recent release of the Top 200 most “active” collectors in the world – produced by Art News magazine – highlights that the reality is quite different. To compile the list, Art News sent surveys to a number of specialists and industry professionals, to identify the most influential buyers of the year. The magazine’s teams and international correspondents also took part in the Top 200, using results from private and public auctions. Though this year’s list features 200 repeat entries, Art News has cited 33 new buyers. Among those are French financier Edouard Carmignac, whose collection is soon to benefit from a new setting in the South of France’s Ile de Porquerolles; the heir to Campbell’s Soup — an image well known amongst art-lovers —, Charlotte Colket-Weber; and German Jochen Zeitz — Head of Puma, and administrator for the Kering group (luxury specialists founded by renowned collector François Pinault)— for whom he is also president of the Committee for Sustainable Development. Jochen Zeitz is to also open a museum with his collection in Cape Town, South Africa: the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MoCAA). Collectors are always in the West If we look at the names compiled by U.S. magazine, 88.8% of the most important collectors are from Europe and...

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Christie’s to conquer India

London, 17 July 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA). London-based auction house Christie’s has announced that it will soon organise an auction sale in India. This sale is planned for the winter season and is in line with Christie’s expansion policy, as well as the auction house’s wish to attract Indian collectors as clients. The Indian art market emerged as a new region of interest about ten years ago, thanks to its collectors and their carefree ability to spend several millions of dollars on canvases by renowned Indian painters such as Vasudeo Gaitonde. For the first quarter, Christie’s experienced an increase of 9% compared to its turnover in 2012. This good result is in part due to the increase of online sales, which are marked by a progress of over...

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Applications open for the Stedelijk Museum conference

Amsterdam, 15 July 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA). A conference entitled “Collecting Geographies – Global Programming and Museums of Modern Art” is scheduled to take place from 12 to 14 March 2014 at the Stedelijk Museum. The deadline for applications for those wishing to participate in the event is 30 September 2013, and the cost of participation is €100. The conference will be organised by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the ASCA/ACGS University of Amsterdam, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Folkwanf Museum in Essen and the Tropen Museum in Amsterdam. In a world defined by globalisation, modern and contemporary western art museums have begun to pay particular attention to the presentation of artworks from around the world, in order to avoid programmes which ignore other geographic centres. The conference aims to highlight the relationship between art and globalisation, and the global nature (or otherwise) of artistic institutions. A space will be devoted to the consideration of critical ideas, terminology and theoretical discourse. Applications should be submitted to the institutions and individual researchers at the same time. A detailed programme for the conference will be announced in December 2013. The event is sponsored by the Mondrian Fund and Ammodo for Global...

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When galleries face financial difficulties

Paris, 31 July 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA). Art today has become an economic issue in a world marked by extreme economic disturbance and depression. Due to cash flow problems, many art galleries no longer have the means to survive. Their financial struggle is thus a harsh reality that not only affects the art market, but also a country’s financial stability on the international level. Nowadays, galleries face a number of challenges that either leave them stagnant, or cause them to close permanently. Firstly, a gallery’s primary role demands a greater deal of work for a smaller management team over the long-term, compared to that of auction houses. In many ways, galleries are micro-enterprises, and their capital base is a decisive factor in the management and promotion of artists. Sales make up roughly 10% of a gallery owner’s work load, which also includes maintaining an artist’s exhibition records, promotion and travel expenses, as well as day-to-day advising. Therefore, gallery participation in large-scale international contemporary art events tends to be weaker. Secondly, the smallest galleries remain somewhat fragmented in a domain that resists unification. These smaller galleries not only lack information on their sector, but also the financial stability required to support and promote the work of their artists. Moreover, galleries are likely to be left out of public commissions negotiations because the State generally prefers to deal directly with artists. In addition, the staggering increase in the price of works sold at auction and the emergence of celebrity collectors have changed the public’s tastes in art – and in such a way that the public is gradually moving away from galleries altogether. In France, the economic activities of the gallery world remain highly unknown. Although, 41% of galleries dealing exclusively in contemporary French artists, specifically those who have limited international...

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