Art Auction Results of 2022: What They Tell Us

When we wrap up one year and head bravely into the next, it is always a good time for reflection. In the art market, that typically means sifting through the results of auctions to see where things stand and where they might be going. While we can only ever make educated guesses, art auction results do give us a lot of information to work with. So let’s recap art auctions in 2022 and see what they tell us about the year ahead.

The Most Expensive Photograph Ever

Though the total sum is more than eclipsed by some works we will talk about later, one of the most important auction headlines in 2022 was Man Ray breaking the record for most expensive photograph ever. His Le Violon d’Ingres (1924) went for $12,412,500 at Christie’s in May. For a little perspective, that’s almost three times the previous record holder.

Of course, if anyone was to break this record, it would be Man Ray. But it also signals a growing appetite for fine art photographs at auction. They’ve always suffered from a perceived lower value, given their reproducibility. This piece is somewhat unique as the particular print in question was created extremely early on in the process, making it feel more like an original. Nevertheless, it has taken decades for fine art photography to get here, and it looks like it might continue to grow at auction in the years to come.

NFT Auctions Crater

The NFT market as a whole has collapsed. The top marketplace OpenSea supposedly lost 99% in trading volume just from May 2022 to August. This was no doubt connected to the major drops in value for cryptocurrencies. While NFTs were never a major part of the art auction world, some speculated that their successes in 2021 would continue to grow. Some even speculated that these digital assets could eventually take a major share of the market.

That did not turn out to be the case. Instead, we saw many marquee names fail to make their NFT auctions a success. For instance, Beeple (whose massive NFT sales in 2021 helped kickstart the fad) collaborated with Madonna. Together, they auctioned off three original works of art in May. The outcome? Underwhelming. They sold for a combined $627,000. That isn’t nothing, but it fell far short of expectations.

Headlines around widespread theft and fraud also put a damper on NFT auction results, with buyers unsure how safe their purchases really could be. This all added up for a terrible year in NFT art auctions. And the prognosis for 2023 is more or less the same. To overcome the current buyer hesitancy and general downward trend would take moving mountains.

Andy Warhol Breaks Records (Again)

Probably the top story from the world of 2022 art auctions is the sale of Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964). This famous work by the first name in pop art sold for a jaw-dropping $195 million to art dealer extraordinaire Larry Gagosian under the aegis of Christie’s.

The enormous number makes the Marilyn screen print the most expensive piece of American art ever sold at auction. And it isn’t even close. The former record holder was a Jean-Michel Basquiat that sold for $110.5 million in 2017. So a record is broken, but what does that really mean for the art market? It definitely says that at the highest levels, things are still growing and moving. The post-lockdown world is proving extremely kind to those selling blue chip art.

The Most Valuable Art Auction in 2022

While Warhol made an impact by pushing the profile of American art ever higher, the Paul G. Allen Collection went up on the auction block — leading to the most valuable art auction in history. The biggest contributors were five central paintings that each received more than $100 million a piece:

  • Les Poseuses Ensemble by Georges Seurat — $149,240,000
  • La Montagne Sainte-Victoire by Paul Cézanne — 137,790,000
  • Verger avec cyprès by Vincent van Gogh — $117,180,000
  • Maternité II by Paul Gauguin — $105,730,000
  • Birch Forest by Gustav Klimt — $104,585,000

In total, the Christie’s auction fetched something in the ballpark of $1.5 billion in November 2022. It should be clear that this really is a once-in-a-lifetime collection to go up for auction, and the market ate it up, particularly in Asia. The tale here confirms what the Warhol auction already told us: the blue chip art market is as healthy as ever. But we also see the continuing trend of Asia rising as an important part of the global story.

Strong at the Top, Weak at the Bottom

Stories of surging prices for blue chip art can give us a distorted perspective on the market as a whole. After all, the vast majority of works are not selling for tens (or hundreds) of millions. The outbreak of war in Ukraine, high oil prices, and continuing economic uncertainty have pushed prices in the middle and lower end of the market down. It has also pushed people up into the higher echelons, where buyers feel things are less risky. After all, a Warhol will remain a Warhol. For those with the money, why take a risk on a $10 million piece of art when the $100 million is a sure winner?

That force gave us some genuine shocks, with a few notable artists having their pieces going unsold at the auction block — including a piece by Antonio Canova and Willem de Kooning. So while Christie’s might have done a record $8.4 billion in art sales for 2022, that doesn’t tell the entire story.

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Image from CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2022

The Art Lawyers Diary: Sharjah Art Foundation Brings Together Over 150 Artists and Collectives for Sharjah Biennial 15

Thinking Historically in the Present (February 7 – June 11, 2023)

Sharjah is the United Arab Emirates’ third largest emirate with coastline on both the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman and known appropriately as the cultural and intellectual center of the UAE. I had never been to the Sharjah Biennial; however, I was drawn by press that Okwui Enwezor, the much beloved and respected curator whose 1997 Johannesburg Biennial and Documenta 11 posed a fundamental restructuring of the paradigm of the biennale, had conceived this as his last biennial prior to his premature death. Sheika Hoor bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the Sharjah Art Foundation and curator of the Sharjah Biennial since 2009, in her curatorial statement acknowledges the critical guidance of Enwezor: “First, he dislocated the biennial from its comfortable seat of origin, expanding the site.” Thus, Hoor Al Qasimi moves beyond nationality centered pavilions. The Sharjah Biennial in its curatorial direction expands beyond the historical core into landscapes and communities that make up the Emirate of Sharjah, such as the Kalba Ice Factory, Kalba Kindergarten, the Khalid Bin Mohammed School (The Africa Institute), the Old Al Dhaid Clinic, the Khorfakkan Art Centre (the old Court House), the Al Hamriyah Studios and the Old Al Jubail Vegetable Market. Also premiering in SB15 are works that engage with the local context of Sharjah. Kerry James Marshall proposes an outdoor installation in the form of an archaeological find inspired by fact, myth and tales, while Kambui Olujimi, Mirna Bamieh and Veronica Ryan present site-specific projects that converse with and recontextualize the old and new architecture of the Foundation.

Secondly, “Enwezor decentered the discursive myths of the European art canonical avant-garde, critiquing the conservatism and social detachment of its vision of modernity….” Sharjah Biennial 15 is a “transnational nexus of global civic enunciation.” Artist identifiers do not refer to the artist’s nationality except indirectly to provide context for artistic practice in the Guidebook (an essential reference tool for visitors to maximize the viewing experience). Carrie Mae Weems presents The In Between (2022-2023) that pays homage to Enwezor, a multimedia installation composed of elements to foreground the in between, a point of departure neither here or there where Enwezor sought to make cultural institutions and art canonical histories more inclusive and representative of non-western identities.

Thinking Historically in the Present: The Notion and Meaning of Time

The phrase that is the guiding principle of the biennial — “thinking historically in the present” — was introduced by Enwezor in 2005. Al Qasimi states “he invoked the dislocation of belonging” and the “disjunction of time as the shared affective core felt across the post-colonial world. How, he asked us to imagine, do you live these disjunctions and experience these disjunctions and experience these dislocations from the inside?” This principle provides an amazing source for archival research, inspiration and creativity for the selected artists. The impact of colonial histories, global politics, immigration, incarceration, traditional narrative structures, indigenous folklore and communal practices enable the artists through film, multimedia, painting, sculpture and performance, to invite viewers to reconfigure ways to view non-canonical wisdom or understand contemporary problems like power, food trade, and climate change as caused by other than as explained by the dominant power structure. Artists create narratives to interweave current political problems and turmoil with a rich historical past mythical and forgotten histories to enable both artist and viewer to search for identity and new ways of resistance, reconciliation and politics. Not surprisingly, the theme causes us and the participating artists to reflect on ancient epistemologies and time as a philosophical, historical and existential concept. Not surprisingly, the theme causes us and the participating artists to reflect on ancient epistemologies and time as a philosophical, historical and existential concept. Contradicting the tendency of Eurocentric historiographies of the Gulf to frame oil expeditions as the beginning of the emirate history, Al Qasimi begins her statement by referencing that “tales and allegories of Sharjah and the Gulf were historically mediated by soothsayers whose intuition served as a conduit to transmit messages from other worlds… These stories were vessels for the accretion of ancestral wisdom relayed orally from one generation and reference to Sharjah and its beginnings dating from archeological finds to 10,000 years ago… In Sharjah’s curatorial and historic models for the Sharjah Biennial 15 there is guidance with the chronotype of ‘deep time’ and the Kharareef of our ancestors.” Wangechi Mutu presents a new sculptural installation titled My Mother’s Memories, a Mound of Buried Brides (2023), a visual poem which reflects on the resilience of the women who fought for the independence of Kenya in the Mau Mau rebellion.

Wangechi Mutu, My Mother’s Memories, a Mound of Buried Ashes (2023) at Bait Al Serkal.

Time as history is seen in the installations and documentation of many photographers and film makers who were either direct participants in the struggles like Omar Badsha, political activist and trade union leader, who is known as one of the pioneers of anti-colonial resistance art from South Africa, and his work Once We were Warriors: Women and the Resistance in the South African Liberation Struggle (1982-1999); or witness to such struggles like Hiroji Kubuta, Magnum photographer, who documents with the rare vision of an outsider from Japan the end of segregation, the rise of the black panther Party and black power and the antiwar movements. Manthia Diawara’s capacious scholarly and documentary creative process has made a major contribution to the field of Black and African diasporic cultural studies. He presents Angela Davis: A World of Greater Freedom (2023). Together he and Davis unpack the principle cores of Davis’s philosophy: “to deconstruct and contextualize contemporary meanings of life and ecology… to narrate new, multiple and unpredictable social realities.” Sir Isaac Julien’s practice often examines the politics of masculinity, class and race to deconstruct and reclaim black histories. Julien presents Once Again… (Statutes Never Die) (2022), taking its title from the 1954 film of Chris marker and Alan Renais Statutes Also Die (1954) on historical African art and its decline under colonialism. Originally commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the Barnes foundation, the five-channel black-and-white video installation explores the legacies of the philosopher, critic and queer cultural leader Alan Locke and African art collector Albert Barnes, whose collection inspired both Locke and the Harlem Renaissance artists. While not immediately obvious unless one spends the time with this mesmerizing five-channel installation and accompanying sculptures, Julien not only reimagines Locke’s relationship and correspondence with Barnes, but also contextualizes contemporary efforts for reparations, gesturing at the critical dialogue which can inspire such claims. Al Qasimi’s goal to build a platform that links Sharjah as a center for knowledge production to the intersectional discourses of the postcolonial constellation, while remaining grounded in collaborative methodologies and civic engagement, is advanced by presenting us such discourse and conversation as presented by Julien, given the clear focus on homosexuality and its acceptance, given the fact that Sharjah is one of the more conservative of the Emirates where prayer is regular, women are veiled and alcoholic consumption is forbidden.

Coco Fusco, an interdisciplinary artist and writer, engages with themes of power, race and the sociopolitical ramifications of her Cuban exile. She has also studied an era of Cuba’s history, characterized by the persecution of those deemed “ideologically divergent.” The term, introduced by Raul Castro in the 1970’s, extended to “all whose personal and political identities permitted them from submitting the revolutionary, effectively criminalizing dissent.” The Eternal Night (La Noche Eternal) (2022) is a poetic feature length black and white film which reactivates and reimagines the political conflicts precipitated by the modern nation-building process in Cuba is based on the life of writer and former political prisoner Nestor Diaz de Villegas. Researched for over two years and based on archival footage mixed with live performances, the film follows the lives of a poet, a young Evangelical man and a seasoned stage actor charged with an assassination attempt on Castro. Guided by the actor, the three endeavor to survive incarceration with wit, strength of will and shared love of cinema.”

Poetry, art, theater, and connection to the narratives of a time remembered of the richness of Haitian cultural and intellectual production, spiritual practice as a means of survival and resistance in a world of chaos and irrationality caused by the natural and political tragedy of Haiti is the message of The Living and the Dead Ensemble. It is composed of ten artists, performers, and poets from Haiti, France and the United Kingdom. The Wake (2021) is an immersive and powerful three-channel video that revolves around the charged atmosphere of a night filled with demonstrations, earthquakes and the fire of struggle and pain, rebirth and chaos. “Amid these flames, a community dreams of flight, travel, and alliances among diasporas, invoking the restlessness that haunt our electronic realms. We, as viewers, share the pain and trauma-immured in the hope that the goal to create a narrative based on the weaving of the insane present with the mythical, colorful and often forgotten histories of the past can lead to rebirth.”

Time as memory and lived history, including its impact on those who have suffered systematic abuse and institutional complicity fuels the performances and photographic art work of Vivan Sundaram, a leading artist of New Delhi’s intellectual and artistic community for six decades. Sundaram’s photography-based project, Six Stations of a Life Pursued (2022), signifies “a journey with periodic halts that release pain, regain trust, behold beauty, recall horror and discard memory – a life pursued. History acquires an allegorical mode yet the narrative rewinds history.”

In Parliament of Objects (2023) (see above), Ibrahim Mahama creates as assemblage of found objects, including abandoned seats, desks, handwritten textbooks, and combines them with Polaroid images of institutional buildings in Ghana. Together, these objects create a timeline of freedom, “a country, and its people, claiming the right to their independence from the British colonizer—a journey that came to an end 65 years ago.”

Hajra Waheed’s Hum II (2023) “explores humming and other vocal practices as a means to consider radical forms of collective and sonic agency… Consisting entirely of voice, the composition features seven songs central to popular uprisings, mass social movements and anti-colonial struggles across the Americas, Africa and Asia where women have been at the forefront. Despite being either suppressed or banned, these songs and musical forms continue to be sung widely, preserved and passed down by women to a new generation of youth.” The artwork is both seductive in drawing the visitor to what purports to be a comfortable mediative experience. At the same time, the sound piece represents resistance to power and aggression. One thinks in terms of power and surveillance of the Jordanian-born artist based in Dubai Lawrence Abu Hamdan, a previous a participant in the Sharjah Biennial.

Time as an existential construct created by a society and its durational measurement relative to traditional beliefs, nature and the universe is dramatically presented in the five-screen multichannel mesmerizing installation by Sir John Akomfrah. The brilliance and sheer poetry of Akomfrah’s practice in pushing the boundaries of the cinematic form to explore radical ways of understanding history is taken literally and figuratively to new levels in the new film commissioned for Sharjah 15, Arcadia (2023). Arcadia “tackles the ecological implications of settler colonialism, extractive capitalism and the extinction of microorganisms… The artist extent the oral as well as representational history of various indigenous cultures to create a multiscreen installation that combines events, memories, landscapes and characters in the form of a mixed media collage. The result is an immersive experience of a less human centric view of postcolonial reality that brings to the floor the often-destructive relationship between humans and inorganic matters in an already fragile ecology.” If there is one work that could be said to embody the themes of memory, identity, postcolonialism, temporality and the politics of aesthetics that pervade so many of the eloquent artistic statements in their manifest forms, media and materials, it is for me, Arcadia. I am thrilled to learn that Akomfrah will represent the UK in Venice in 2024.

Environmental Historical Memory, Diasporic Labor, Food, Shelter, Power and Extraction of Resources

Not surprisingly many artists draw on indigenous epistemologies to examine the future of shared resources. Others investigate the meaning of food in socio-political and cultural context on a local and global scale. Elia Nurvista reflects on concepts within food discourse related to “globalization, material extraction, exploitation and exotification.” Mirna Bamieh’s work in the Old Al Jubail Vegetable Market, Sour Things (2023) (see above), uses fermentation “as a metaphor for zooming into micro-words of encapsulated multitudes in order to look at life, cities, people, relationships and culture.” Joiri Minaya’s work investigates colonial hierarchies particularly in reference to the repetitive fixation of the global north on the tropics as an “abundant land and society poised for extraction and servitude, visually linking ethnobotany and exoticism, tropical identity and its commodification” (ie: Gaugin).

Mandla is a queer and agender writer performer who presents a video installation taken from As British as A Watermelon (2019), a performance examining frameworks of systemic racism through the bounds of a structure of fluorescent lights and watermelons.

Mandla, As British as a Watermelon (2019) at the Africa Institute

Carolina Caycedo’s Agua Pesada / Alma Althaquil [Heavy Water] (2023) is inspired by the aludeles, bottomless-pot furnaces of the Almadén mercury mines in Spain, the largest and most prolific mercury concentration in the world. The work is intended to “contribute strength of environmental historical memory considers fundamental force in defense of human and nonhuman entities against destructive violence.

Carolina Caycedo, Agua Pesada / Alma Althaquil [Heavy Water] (2023) on view at Calligraphy Square.

Felix Shumba explores social trauma in an attempt to interrogate ways in which history is constructed. Researching in the historic archives of his native Zimbabwe, he presents Ruwa River (2022) and Nocturnal Body (2022) revealing from his research the lethality of the government’s suppression of the insurgency through the use of chemical weapons. For Shumba, the materiality of charcoal parallels the suffocation of black lives.

Nari Ward presents Duty Colossus (2023), a site-specific installation in a former fish factory composed of two elements, a dhow and a Jamaican fish trap. For Ward, one important element is the space in between. Even more important, Ward told me is the fish trap as a metaphor for time. The portal functions through an interplay of seduction and entrapment. With reference to time, Ward quotes from Jimmie Durham: “we live with our experiences always in the past as echo and reverberation of the present.”

Doris Salcedo presents Uprooted (2020-2022), 804 dead trees that are sculpted and assembled to depict a house. “Structurally uninhabitable, the work symbolizes the refugee’s predicament—a seemingly permanent state of impermanence… attributing the cause of this forced movement of people most fundamentally to the capitalist destruction of the environment, Salcedo manipulates organic material into monumental sardonic artefact.”

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons “grapples with the coordinates of diasporic identity formation: migration, displacement, collective memory, spirituality and gender.” In her work, Murmullo Familiar [Family Whisper] (2021-2023), “alongside beds of red sand collected from Mleiha, a desert in Sharjah that is reminiscent of the soil in Mantazas, Cuba, a set of glass stools, cast from one passed down by Campos-Pons’ family across generations, operate as metaphors of absence, representing those lost or unaccounted for by the ruptures of Afro-Cuban history …” Campos-Pons will have a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum at September 2023.

Rachid Hedli’s performance of Gueles Noires (2016), a French term used as slang for soot covered miners is a brilliant work of choreography superbly executed by his company Cie Niya, composed of a composer and performers, sons and grandsons of immigrant miners from the French Pas de Calais region. The atmospheric dance blends narrative and hip hop elements with breaking and popping movements to emulate the rhythm of hard labor set to a soundtrack of heavy machinery the piece pays tribute to Hedli’s father who died of lung cancer.

Tania El Khoury is a live performance artist. Her work is drawn from the political realities of the Lebanese Civil war and its aftermath. I attended El Khoury’s performance The Search for Power (2018), limited to an investigation around a dinner table for thirty people inviting us to track her research into power shortages in Lebanon which interfered with her wedding celebration at which we are recreating the investigation and experience. During the Biennial, “an audio guide helps audiences navigate the dense archives amassed during El Khoury’s … transnational research, locating electricity at the intersection between colonial legacies, political and economic hierarchies and everyday acts of resistance, survival and sabotage.”

Each Biennale has its own character and traditions as each varies within its own paradigm from biennial to biennial. From what I have heard of attendees of the past, Sharjah 15 is at the pinnacle, benefitting from the collective wisdom and experience of the past. One must acknowledge the stunning curatorial success of Hoor Al Qasimi in both the selection of artists and the installation of the works in each exhibition, including the selection of sites. Each artist is represented by multiple works and located in conversation with adjacent artists. While there is a denial of a single curatorial voice, the El Quasim’s decades of experience is reflected in this important edition of the Sharjah Biennial. Notwithstanding this singular curatorial excellence, the spirit of being guided by one another, another stated aim, is achieved, “by our ever-evolving cross cultural solidarity.”

A Practical Guide to the Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present

Recommended Artists*****

The Sharjah Art Museum
There are numerous retrospective historical photographs, indigenous artists, in addition to numerous other excellent creations and works by known and some lesser-known artists. Anybody visiting the museum should carefully choose, in accordance to the Sharjah Biennial Guidebook, to their personal taste.

Bait Al Serkal
Wangechi Mutu
Helina Metaferia
Manthia Diawara
David Hammons
Hassan Hajjaj

Bank Street Building
Tania El Khoury****
Lee Kai Chung****

Calligraphy Square
Carrie Mae Weems
Isaac Julien
Mithu Sen
Carolina Caycedo

Al Mureijah Square
Mona Hatoum
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Vivan Sundaram
John Akomfrah
Hajra Waheed***
Bouchra Khalili***

Old Al Jubail Vegetable Market
Tania El Khoury
Elia Nurvista
Mirna Bamieh
Joiri Minaya****

Khalid Bin Mohammed School (The Africa Institute)
The Living and the Dead Ensemble

The Flying Saucer
Kambui Olujimi

Al Hamriyah Studios
Mary Sibande
Veronica Ryan
Hank Willis Thomas
Nabil El Makhloufi

Old Al Diwan Al Amiri
Kerry James Marshall
Yinka Shonibare
Joiri Minaya
Barbara Walker

Old Al Dhaid Clinic
Cao Fei
Felix Shumba
Laura Huertas Millán
Ibrahim Mahama****
Rehab Eldalil
Pushpakanthan Pakkiyarajah

Kalba Ice Factory
Nari Ward
Doris Salcedo***

Khorfakkan Art Centre
Coco Fusco
Theaster Gates

The Chedi Al Bait Sharjah
Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa
Coral Beach Resort Sharjah

The Saturday Night Taste of Arab Buffet is Extraordinary!

For an alternative art universe with respect to thinking historically in the present, our readers may wish to spend several days in the Disneyland that is Dubai visiting the Museum of the Future, Leila Heller Gallery’s Tales Under the Gate new sculpture installation and the Dubai Art Fair (March 1-5, 2023).

Works at Tales under the Gate (2023), Dubai.

* Barbara T. Hoffman is a preeminent international art lawyer with an undergraduate degree in art history. She has been a passionate follower of the contemporary art scene for years and a regular attendee at the Venice Biennale, Documenta, and other international art events since the early 1980’s. She writes frequently on law, art and politics for a variety of publications and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics. She serves on the Board of Performa, the Visual Performance Biennale, founder State Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and is on MoMA’s Contemporary Arts Council and Black Arts Council. She serves on the board of several artist endowed foundations and advises museums and artist foundations on issues of governance, including board development and conflict of interest and intellectual property.

** Quotes included in the article, unless otherwise stated by the author, are taken from the Guidebook to the Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present.

*** Artists who received the Sharjah Biennial Prize at Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present.

**** Artists who received an honorable mention by the Sharjah Art Foundation jury for their work at Sharjah Biennial 15.

***** This by no means reflects artists not included in the list. Notwithstanding, the author dedicated only five days to viewing the Sharjah Biennial and Inevitably some artists may have been overlooked. It is a matter of time. I would return in a minute for another experience of the Historical Present.


5 Questions with Artist Julia Ibbini

When our friends at Long-Sharpe Gallery told us about Abu Dhabi-based Ibbini Studio, we were intrigued to learn more. So, we chatted with Julia Ibbini about how she explores historical ornament using algorithms and new technologies to create intricate works that intersect art, design and engineering. The practice is a collaborative effort between herself and Stéphane Noyer, who she has worked with since 2017. While Julia is a visual artist and designer, with a background in graphics and collage, Stéphane is a computer scientist and maker, with an interest in computational geometry. We dug a little further…

1AN: What inspired you to pursue art?

JI: I’ve never wanted to do anything else other than be an artist, but I worked in marketing for over a decade before I was able to move into making art full-time in my 30’s.

1AN: I love that you followed your dreams! Your work is so visually complex. How do you describe your art to people who’ve never seen it before?

JI: My work explores ornament and pattern using algorithms and new technologies to create works that intersect art, craft, design and engineering. The work is a collaborative effort with Stéphane Noyer who is a computer scientist and engineer.

The pieces we make combine contemporary digital design and traditional craftsmanship with extreme detailing, using algorithms and new technologies. A specific focus is the creation of visual complexity, either through repetition of simple motifs, elaborate geometric construction, or accumulation of ornamental detail in order to create high levels of intricacy.

We use materials such as paper, veneer woods or mother of pearl – selected for their delicate, tactile qualities – that are then layered and meshed together using a complex collaging method, with individual projects taking up to a year to complete.

1AN: Yeah, you definitely seem to test the limits of possibilities in collage and construction with your work. What does it aim to say?

JI: It’s mostly about exploring the spaces between certain fields of interest; between mathematics and visual art, engineering and craft, machine versus hand-made.

For example, we recently began a new series of sculptures that play on the idea of developable surfaces. Developable surfaces are a mathematical concept that describes how flat sheet material can be rolled or curved in three dimensional shapes and is traditionally used in areas such as industrial manufacturing, boat building or cartography.

We used developable surfaces to design and build a sculptural prototype out of layered, laser cut papers, using a very large amount of computational geometry, custom developed software scripts, custom 3d printed forms, customised laser machines and experimental collaging methods to build the end result by hand.

1AN: Considering this, your works really are extremely intricate and precise, pushing the boundaries of materials in unusual ways. But how has your approach and process changed over time? 

JI: I am always playing with how far I can push boundaries and ideas creatively, while Stéphane focuses on engineering quality. As a result, there is an ongoing increase in both the complexity of the pieces and the technology we are working with; it’s an endless learning curve.

1AN: So, with all of this learning, what does a day at your studio look like?

JI: I’m an early riser so things typically get going at about 7am.

We arranged our studio into 4 areas: a workshop space for the laser machines, an office area for the computers, a clean build space (where all the pieces are assembled) and a photography studio. I’m generally on the move between the four spaces throughout the day.

I always work on a mix of several pieces/projects at once and it’s about nudging each one forward towards completion each day.

1AN: And as a bonus, mainly because I’m dying to know, what has been the highlight of your career?

JI: Mostly the fact that I get to do this every day. Being a creative person in any field is incredibly difficult on so many levels, but also deeply rewarding in ways I could never have imagined.

Read more about Julia here.

African Art Market Trends – Growing Demand From Western Collectors

The art market in Africa has experienced significant growth in recent years. This is due to several factors, including the emergence of a new generation of African artists and the increasing demand for their work from Western collectors. Additionally, increased access to digital platforms has allowed African art to reach a wider audience than ever before. We’ll take a closer look at some of the trends driving the African art market and how they are impacting the world of collecting.

Modern and Contemporary Works by African Artists

One of the most notable trends in the African art market is the rise in demand for modern and contemporary works by African artists. According to ArtTactic’s Modern & Contemporary African Artist Market Report, auction sales increased by 44% in 2021, amounting to $72 million. This surge in interest is attributed largely to international collectors who have become increasingly interested in works by young African artists.

This trend was reflected in both established markets like South Africa as well as emerging markets such as Nigeria where young collectors have been eager to buy works by top contemporary African artists. Furthermore, access to digital buy/sell platforms like artnet and the return of art fairs like 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, works have been able to reach an even larger global audience. With so much potential for further growth within this area of collecting – now could be a great time for those wishing to invest or simply enjoy beautiful works by some truly talented modern and contemporary African artists!

Prominent Female African Artists

Another trend that has had an impact on the African art market is the emergence of prominent female artists such Julie Mehretu and Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Both have seen their auction prices increase significantly over recent years as collectors have become more aware of their talent and influence on modern art history. Julie Mehretu’s “Black Ground (deep light)” sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for $5,6M in 2019 and Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s “The Beautyful Ones” sold at Christie’s New York for $4.7M in 2022.

While male artists still dominate many aspects of the market, it is encouraging to see female artists featured amongst the top African artists for their contributions and achievements. Included alongside Julie Mehretu and Njideka Akunyili Crosby are Ben Enwonwu, Amoako Boafo and El Anatsui. These artists have all seen their works fetch record prices at auctions and are considered some of the best-selling contemporary African artists around.

Galleries Looking Towards Africa

African art is an integral part of many different cultures and boasts centuries of history behind it. Works represent a variety of styles and media including painting, photography, sculpture and installation art, each made with thoughtfully traditional techniques and often evoking a strong sense of African culture and history. Increasingly, galleries across the world are recognising African art as a source of talent and are providing a platform to African artists and their works. With African art being so varied and unique, it adds an interesting twist for gallery-goers to explore diverse art styles from all over the African continent.

These galleries provide a platform for African artists to showcase their works and gain admiration from the global audience and attract new buyers from abroad. Galleries give artists opportunities that may not have been available in previous generations. It is encouraging to see people around the world supporting African artists and appreciating their skills, it is also spurring exciting collaborations between African and international galleries as they look towards African artistic talent as an important source of collaboration.

Galleries that appreciate African art now form an important part of our global cultural conversation about African arts, making African culture more accessible to everyone. As galleries around the globe continue to draw on African talent for impressive works of art, we can only hope it will further open channels for artists to share their timeless talents and singular perspective on the world with us all.

Discover the Next Wave of African Art

The global nature of the art world is ever-evolving, and Africa is playing an increasingly prominent role. As Western audiences become more aware of the talented pool of artists coming out of the continent, there is a growing demand for their work. This has resulted in a boom in both auction prices and gallery representation for African artists. While contemporary pieces are gaining popularity, works by modern masters are also sought-after by collectors. And as the number of female artists making a name for themselves continues to grow, it’s clear that this trend is here to stay. If you’re interested in getting ahead of the curve and adding some truly unique pieces to your collection, keep an eye on what’s happening next in the African art market! To get started, read our latest interview with African artist, Abdoulaye Konaté.

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5 Questions about Artist Abdoulaye Konaté

It’s no exaggeration when I say that as I turned into an aisle at Art Miami, I stopped dead in my tracks as my eyes fell on this piece by Mali-born artist, Abdoulaye Konaté:

So, I ducked into the booth and approached Daniele at Primo Marella Gallery, as I just had to find out more about the talent behind these works that suddenly surrounded me. He told me that Abdoulaye studied painting at the Institut National des Arts in Bamako and then at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba. He is the founder and General Director of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers Multimédia Balla Fasseké Kouyaté in Bamako, Mali, where he also lives and works. Naturally, I had more questions…

What inspires Abdoulaye Konaté to create art and how is this reflected in his artistic approach?

For this West African artist, creating art reflects the fascinating and unique Koredouba outfits that can be found in both the Senufo milieu as well as Mali’s Segou region. The technique used by the Mandingo hunters to construct these garments involves tearing up pieces of fabric before attaching various objects including cellphones, bottles, glasses – even items most would consider garbage! They are incredibly symbolic since they absorb everything society casts away or deems unworthy, transforming it into something beautiful. In wearing them with such pride and confidence they are creating an intermediary to break down societal divisions – no matter their age, class or status, everyone can come together through this artistic approach.

What does Abdoulaye’s work aim to say?

Abdoulaye works on two main lines. On one side, he seeks beauty and expression in colors, new forms of balance and compositions to create captivating visuals. Meanwhile, on the other side, he focuses on highlighting the many issues that plague modern society like religion tensions, warfare conflict, health disparities and systemic injustice – using vibrant palettes as powerful tools for expressionism with thought provoking messages carried within them!

How has Abdoulaye’s approach and process changed over time? 

Abdoulaye ventured into the world of textiles in the 90’s, enthralled by their potential. Initially experimenting with acrylics alongside fabrics as an accompaniment to his work, he gradually discovered how this material could be used just like paints or watercolors – a powerful new way for him to express himself.

Today Abdoulaye runs a creative team of 5 experienced sewers and embroiderers – some of whom have worked with him for over 20 years. They understand his eye for detail, from the finishing touches to re-creating what he’s asked them to make. Now every element is made in-house by his close crew, resulting in truly special pieces worthy of admiration.

Abdoulaye is determined to keep pushing the boundaries of textile design and craftmanship. He has already studied traditional techniques from places like Vietnam, Thailand, China and Japan; but his ambition doesn’t end there! There are still so many exciting possibilities left to explore in the field – with himself as an artist and alongside artisans around the world. Abdoulaye’s story promises a future full of innovative textiles born out of collaboration between countries on this vast continent.

What lessons did Abdoulaye learn along the way of forging a successful career as an artist?

Through his work, Abdoulaye strives to keep the messaging clear and focused. His journey taught him the importance of being heard and understood, rather than changed. It is essential to look beyond what you want to gain a better understanding; focusing on finding essence in his work makes for sharp expression that won’t get lost even if perspectives are different. Social themes remain closest at heart, with clarity shining through no matter how complex it might seem!

What advice could be given to African students considering the field of art?

Abdoulaye believes this generation must adopt new techniques and learn the classic, academic skills that have been mastered elsewhere. By focusing on technical mastery, knowledge of objects and anatomy – along with staying up-to-date on evolving trends – these creatives can shape an incredible future for themselves!

He also believes that there is a disconnect between those with deep cultural knowledge and these young artists – which could potentially be addressed if barriers were removed for these elders so they can freely pass on their wisdom. It’s important because many members from families capable of teaching this valuable learning mechanism are dying out. By doing this we can ensure African cultural richness will not fall into obscurity – helping keep roots alive.

Finally, Abdoulaye stresses the importance of mastering cutting-edge digital techniques, which opens up a ton of possibilities not just for artists – but across all industries. Understanding this “universal language” can help link us to others in an easily accessible way and make sure professionals are always ahead of the curve when it comes to industry trends.

Please find out more about Abdoulaye Konaté here.

5 Questions with Artist Federico Uribe

As I walked through Art Miami, an array of lively and playful works caught my eye. Specifically, this large-scale piece drew me into a booth until I got close enough to realize that it’s made of pencil crayons:

So of course, I had to inquire with Adelson Gallery about the work and soon found out that the artist behind it is Bogotá-born Federico Uribe, who currently lives and works in Miami. His artwork resists classification and emerges from intertwining everyday objects in surprising ways. I wanted to find out about how he came to use household objects (plastic cutlery, colored pencils, and so on) in favour of a paintbrush and canvas. So, I was thrilled for the opportunity to ask him…

1AN: Federico, I’ve been fortunate to see your work in person and can confirm that is really does resist classification. So, how do you describe your art to people who’ve never seen it before?

FU: I always say that I build objects out of objects. In my pursuit of beauty, I look for the aesthetic possibility of an object and think about the symbolic and emotional connection within them. For example, color pencils will take everyone to a pleasant moment from their childhood. Even if their experience was dysfunctional, the memory of color pencils is always good. Conversely, bullets always have the implication of violence against animals and innocents. I try to make objects as beautiful as possible to try to show them from a different perspective.

1AN: That makes sense, as you seem to push the limits of applying everyday objects in all possible and surprising ways. What does your work aim to say?

FU: Every material I work with has different emotional, sociological, and psychological connotations on people’s minds and memory. Therefore, each object I use has a different intention. My “Plastic Reef” installation is a reflection on ocean pollution and our responsibility for it. My works with bullets make people think about the absurdity of hunting as a sport and maybe the death of innocents because of human conflicts. My works with X-rays and surgical instruments would hopefully make people think about the power or ability of science to improve and extend human life, and at the same time, the potential of beauty in objects that are related to pain.

1AN: What does a day at your studio look like?

FU: I have 3 employees who work from 7 am to 3 pm, getting material ready for me to work (e.g. cutting pencils in pieces, making holes in bullets, cutting wires, making frames and so on). I get to work at 9 am and work until 8 pm. I have my own space at the studio where I build objects 6 days a week. The atmosphere is very friendly but disciplined as well. I buy groceries and cook for everyone every day.

1AN: Rooted in the craft of sculpture and paint, how has your approach and process changed over time?

FU: Every time I work with a new object, I also have to create a new technique. I repeatedly make mistakes until I am successful. I have perfected my pencil and bullet techniques over time, but for other materials, it is an ongoing learning process.
I learn from my employees who are carpenters and engineers, but it takes time to get the full potential of each object despite their skill.

1AN: I can only imagine! But if the sky were the limit, describe to me what your “dream project” would be.

FU: I would love to do art in public places that change the cityscape and create an identity for the cities they are in. I want to make whales jumping out of water, made from 747 airplanes. I have a lot more ideas for projects and will have to wait for the opportunity to disclose them.

1AN: Fair enough, but I’ll keep my eyes open for those whales! And as a quick bonus question: What has been the highlight of your career?

FU: I have very beautiful and emotional moments when people who see my installations are moved to tears or smile uncontrollably and tell me that I made their day.

Read more about Federico here.

The Return of Art Fairs Post-Pandemic

As we continue our return to normal life and things open up more and more, art fairs are roaring back. This comes as great news to artists, collectors, galleries, and host cities — not to mention the fair organizers themselves. Art fairs are also important cultural and economic events, allowing for people to spontaneously discover their new favorite artist and for all of us to get a vibe check for the moment.

So let’s look at the return of art fairs. How is it going and what’s different about them moving forward?

Back From the Brink

With Covid prevention measures, many feared that the form of the art fair would become obsolete. In the last decade, the internet has provided a direct link between artists and collectors like never before. As lockdowns shuttered galleries and art fairs, more and more people engaged with art buying online. It seemed like the time had come for a major shift to take place.

But luckily, as soon as people had the chance to return to the art fair, they did. By 2021, many art fairs were coming back — albeit in smaller and more protective forms. By late 2022, things seemed to be fully back to normal, with major events like Art Basel showing extremely healthy attendance. The catastrophic predictions of the art fair’s end have now dried up entirely.

Covid and Art Fairs

The truth is, while Covid is now much more under control, there are still many collectors, artists, and gallerists concerned about it. That means that organizers have had to negotiate this complicated issue every step of the way. More than anything else, this has shaped the new post-pandemic art fair.

During the first year, many art fairs were canceled altogether, yet others like Art Paris and Vienna Contemporary continued in 2020. The controversy around these decisions put pressure on organizers from all directions, and this became only more true as fairs came back. When art fairs began to return in greater numbers through 2021, organizers struggled to strike a balance between safety and the fundamental togetherness that these events represent. There was no one single policy that everyone followed, except masking.

Other rules could get much more complicated. Miami Art Week 2021, for instance, had a dizzying number of different protocols depending on which fair you went to. This didn’t seem to have much of an icing effect. While attendance was down everywhere, organizers were able to put together profitable events.

Today, art fairs are by and large back to normal, with masks optional almost everywhere. Proof of vaccination, once a pretty common requirement for entry, has since been lifted almost entirely.

The Rise of Art Fairs in Asia

Maybe the most uplifting news is the increasing interest in art fairs around the world, particularly the white-hot art market in Asia. It should come as no surprise, as the continent now represents the largest share of global art sales — yet they’ve lagged behind in the development of major art fairs.

But that’s all changing. In 2023, the brand new ART SG and the returning India Art Fair have shown that this format is gaining momentum in southern Asia, able to attract global buyers as well as activate and engage collectors in their area. Along with the upstart ART SG in Singapore, Tokyo Gendai launches onto the world stage in July. The Japanese economy is enormous, yet regulations on art imports have dampened their spending in the past. Those have since been lifted, and now they are ready to unleash their incredible buying power. This new art fair will have around 80 galleries presenting work in an exciting new locale.

This is in-line with what we’ve seen in the last handful of years, like the new Frieze art fair in Seoul, which debuted in 2022 to major success. South Korea is another major economy that’s been underserved by the art market, something that is being corrected more and more. The Asian art fair calendar will no doubt continue to fill in, probably creating more can’t-miss events.

Rethinking the Art Fair

In 2021, art fairs were coming back to the fray after two years. That extended break gave organizers a lot of time to rethink and retool their approach to how art fairs look and operate. But much of this opportunity was taken up by concerns around getting tens of thousands of people to follow safety rules.

By 2022, innovations really started to trickle in. We saw several excellent ways to integrate hybrid in-person and digital events and programming, something that greatly expanded the amount of people who could see and enjoy the artwork on display. Those were often being implemented only the first (or, at most, second) time. But these new ideas are continuing to grow and expand, especially now that so many tech platforms are looking to move offerings into virtual reality. For the foreseeable future, every year will bring headlines about how major art fairs are using digital solutions to augment the in-person experience and create ways to engage fully online.

The addition of online programming means more people can participate and, crucially, spend money. So it will likely prove essential for art fairs going forward. Take a look at the fair programming One Art Nation created prior to the pandemic.

These technological innovations have combined with the more economic reforms that occurred at major art fairs over the late 2010s. In that time, booth fees at major events like Art Basel became scaled to the size of the gallery, making things much more profitable for small and midsize galleries. If the hurdle to participate in the hybrid programming can follow that same sentiment going forward, fairs look to become even more important to the art world at every level.

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Tips on Collecting Unusual Mediums

When you first become an art collector, things can seem extremely complicated and most aren’t even contemplating collecting unusual mediums. There are so many special terms for auctions, retail galleries, and buying directly from the artist. Plus, there are a head spinning number of things that go into the value of a work of art. That makes deciding on a big purchase difficult, especially at the beginning. But then your journey continues for a time, and you start to get your feet under you. You know all about how to value a print, what’s a good deal at your local gallery, and you’ve maybe even attended a few auctions. Your collection is starting to really take shape and develop a character. You’ve done it!

Yet that old excitement starts to haunt you. The memories of those early days when you were a little lost, when you had to work to keep up, when art thrilled you to no end — you want that excitement back. So what do you do? You start collecting unusual mediums. All of a sudden, everything you’ve learned seems out the window. Well, not quite so fast. When collecting unusual mediums, there certainly are special considerations you need to make. But you might find no matter what the medium is — even if an artwork is made out of a banana and duct tape — things can work more or less the same.

What is an unusual medium?

In art, mediums are the supplies and materials that an artist uses to create a work. For instance, acrylic paint is a medium, as is watercolor and charcoal and brass casting. An unusual medium is one that is simply not as common as others. Recent years have seen a rise in the popularity of these works, especially with the dominance of social media. Unusual mediums are often instantly delightful, generating a lot of engagement on platforms like Instagram. These can range from the innocuous to the controversial — like Damien Hirst’s use of animal bodies or the strange history of using body fluids in art (which is cataloged in this rather out-there Wikipedia article).

Should I collect unusual mediums?

This is the most important question to answer, and in some ways it’s the easiest. It comes down to the same fundamental calculus you need to make anytime you buy artwork: do you love it? If you love a work of art, and it is worth the asking price to share your life with it, then the medium doesn’t really matter.

Now, if the medium is perishable, you’ll need to think about the timeline. After all, if something is going to disappear in a short amount of time, will it still be worth the money? But even after taking all that in, it’s still the same decision it always is. The only major barrier that unusual mediums have for collectors is that, given they aren’t standard, it can be difficult to tell how the artwork will hold up in your home or office in the years to come. Are you reacting to the brilliance of the art, or temporarily won over by its strangeness? That can be hard to tell when you’re first venturing into unusual mediums. For that reason, it might be good to start small and see how the weird and unique elements of it age over time for you. Every collector will be different in this regard.

Is it a good investment?

This is the next big question. And it’s one of the more complicated to answer. After all, this can be difficult in the most standard, banal circumstances. When you throw in unusual mediums, it can get even weirder and hard to pin down. The benefit to buying in mediums like ceramic sculpture, oil painting, and other “normal” mediums, is that you can get a much better read on how they would fare on the market.

Obviously, no estimates are 100% perfect, but they improve the more data points you have. In the last five years, think of how many oil paintings were sold. That means you have information you can check, and that provides a lot of comfort when buying art as an investment. Unusual mediums, by definition, don’t really have that. But they do still have some other factors that can be used to determine potential future earnings, such as:

  • the artist and their career trajectory
  • the era and style
  • any previous sales

These should look familiar to all forms of art buying. And just because you can’t rely on as many data points doesn’t mean these aren’t solid things you can look at.

How do I take care of artwork in an unusual medium?

The next big challenge comes when you actually take the artwork to your home or office. As with all the other considerations, this one is a lot more difficult because you have less information to go on. In some cases, things will be more or less straightforward. A sculpture made out of recycled grocery bags can probably hold up if treated with general rules of thumb, like:

  • avoid direct sunlight
  • avoid extremes in temperature and humidity
  • avoid dramatic fluctuations in temperature and humidity
  • keep out of high traffic areas

But what happens when you collect unusual mediums that are much less stable? The best you can do is make sure to ask plenty of questions of the gallerist or, if you are buying directly, from the artist. Even if you buy on the secondary market, you should try to reach out to the artist if you feel confused about how to take care of your art.

The Joy of Going Beyond Normal

Unusual mediums can be a great way to expand your collection and shake up how you see fine art. They also bring up a bit more confusion when buying, but there are many joys that await you once you collect them.

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What Auction Data Tells Us About Artist Trends

Art auctions and auction data is one of the best ways that art insiders understand the changing fortunes. When you comb over the results, you can see how artworks performed against their estimates, and how the prices of artists and movements have changed over time. That all proves to be fascinating information that any collector would love to learn.

The information is often open to anybody who cares to look, and it is relevant to all kinds of collectors — whether you are buying art at auction or not. The trends that you can pick up in this data goes far beyond to every corner of the market. If we look over recent auction data from 2021 and 2022, we can see that in some ways the art world is radically changing.

A dive into the numbers gives us an interesting picture, and it allows us to make some prognoses that might help us collect into the future.

The Rise and Fall of NFTs

As we’ve covered before, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were a major buzzword throughout 2021. And there was an enormous amount of hype behind them. Almost all of that hype was kickstarted by a jaw dropping auction figure — Beeple’s $69 million price tag for a single NFT at Christie’s.

After that, the years-long slow build of NFT popularity skyrocketed into full mania. But by the middle of 2022, the love affair seemed to crest. Beeple, for his part, was hacked and his followers lost about half a million dollars worth of cryptocurrency and NFTs. And that kind of summed up what happened to the entire trend: what seemed like a new major media proved to be as much a scam as a real prospect.

It turned out that many NFT artists had learned how to artificially pump up the price of their NFTs by anonymously selling it back to themselves at ever higher costs. This can all be clearly seen in the much more languid pace of NFTs at auction in 2022. Christie’s NFT sales this summer totaled a measly $1.6 million, a fraction of a single Beeple work a little more than a year earlier.

Auctions are showing us that the slow down of NFT sales (tied also to so called “crypto winter”) is likely a very real phenomenon. In many ways, the mainstream craze of art NFTs began with an auction, and it seems that it is here we are seeing the clearest evidence of their demise. At least for now…..

2022 Has Been a Great Year (So Far)

The early months of 2022 proved to be a gangbusters time for the auction houses. From January 1st to May 20th, the art market matched its previously high point for the period in 2018. Both periods raked in about $5.7 billion.

What’s interesting to note is that the first half of 2022 saw more lots offered and sold than the first half of 2018. That might seem like a bad sign, with more art selling for the same amount. But in many ways, that shows that there is simply more action in the auction world. And there is a very optimistic number in there: 73.4 percent of lots offered found their way to a buyer. That’s an incredibly high number, especially compared to recent years.

This good news might show the way to a healthy second half of the year and a strong 2023. At the very least, it reminds us how ready collectors were to get back into the action after 2020.

The Impressionist and Modern Comeback

For many years, the Impressionist and Modern category (including artists born between 1821 and 1910) absolutely dominated at auction houses. It’s easy to see why. This includes peerless artists and important movements, with work still being young enough to have a little movement and prices not totally beyond the pale as with old masters.

But the craze was bound to hit a major wall. After all, there isn’t any new Impressionist and Modern art being made, and eventually it was substantially locked up. By 2019, much of what was left didn’t live up to the kinds of work selling only a few years earlier. And in fact, that year saw the once proud category fall by almost a third.

It was expected that Postwar and Contemporary (defined by artists born from 1911 to 1974) would fill its shoes. But we’ve seen it more or less tie with Impressionist and Modern starting in 2019. That continues into 2022. So what is on the rise?

Ultra-Contemporary Work Is Growing

Ultra-Contemporary Art includes anything made by an artist born after 1974. And this is a section that’s massively increased in size over the last three years. It has seen more work going up at auction and the average sale price increasing, too. For a little perspective, the Ultra-Contemporary category increased five-fold in value since just 2018.

If this trend continues, it could prove to have some good legs. Buying contemporary art matches a major trend among Millennial and Gen-Z collectors — focusing less on name equity and more on unique perspectives and a closer relationship to the work of art. Ultra-Contemporary is still a tiny fraction of the big categories (Impressionist and Modern, Postwar and Contemporary), but it has powerful allies. The growing Asian market, particularly Hong Kong, often pays comparably high prices for Ultra-Contemporary. That could keep boosting these works for years.

Looking Ahead by Looking Backwards

Seeing the future by looking at auctions is one of the best ways to see large trends, particularly at the commanding heights of the art world. But it is important to end with a caveat. The vast majority of the art market does not take place at auction houses like Sotheby’s. It happens in galleries, art fairs, and websites large and small.

If you overemphasize the importance of the major money players at the top, you can lose sight of the vast and healthy world of art that goes on everywhere else. With that said, auctions provide rich data that every collector should be aware of.

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What You Need to Know About Art Appraisals

If you are an art collector, then sooner or later you are going to need the services of an art appraiser. This is an important service in the art world, and yet many collectors have a lot of unanswered questions about it. We are going to clear up a lot of those questions today. Hopefully, this will give you more confidence in getting your artwork appraised when you need to.

What is an art appraiser?

An art appraiser will use their expertise to assign a value to a work of art. By considering things like the provenance of a work, its medium, the artist who made it, and other factors like style and era, an art appraiser can figure out a price you would expect to sell a piece for.

That information can be incredibly important in many different situations. If you are looking to insure your collection, you’ll need an appraiser. If you are dividing assets, like during a divorce, you’ll need an appraiser. If you are looking to resell and want to know a good price to begin at, you’ll need an appraiser. With art, value is seen as so subjective and difficult to pin down, that these professionals at pricing art have become invaluable.

How does an art appraisal work?

To get a sense of your artwork’s value, an art appraiser will track down exhaustive information on prices for similar works. It can be hard to find “similar” works in the world of art. An appraiser will have to take in a large amount of variables into account, including:

  • provenance
  • medium
  • artist
  • condition
  • size
  • market conditions
  • exhibition history

This list is not exhaustive, but it gives a good idea of just how many factors go into appraising the value for a single work of art. As you can see, researching a work of art can be a lot of work.

Art Estimate vs. Appraisal

Anyone can estimate the value of a work of art. When you watch a television show like Antiques Roadshow, that’s essentially what you are seeing. This is a quick and dirty version of an appraisal. But when you need a legal document, an art appraisal goes above and beyond. An appraiser will provide a complete assessment that you can use as proof, whether to a court of law or the IRS. That’s because a true appraisal will follow the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisers Practice (USPAP).

You won’t always need that level of detail. If you are getting a cash offer for a painting and just checking to see if it’s a fair deal, you don’t need a legal document. However, if you are looking to insure your collection, you will need an accredited appraiser.

The three major types of appraisal are:

  • Insurance value: This will determine the current market replacement value when purchasing a similar work from a retail gallery.
  • Resale value: This will give you a fair market value — though it is certainly not a guarantee.
  • Donation value: This is specifically to see how much you can deduct from taxes if you donate a work of art.

There are still others, but these are the most common.

How much does an art appraisal cost?

The cost of an art appraisal comes down to many specifics, but you can easily spend several hundred dollars to appraise a single work. Many great appraisers will charge hundreds of dollars an hour. This can be prohibitively expensive for some works that you are fairly certain aren’t worth anything near that. But for works that are at least worth several thousand dollars, you may find the money well spent.

How accurate are art appraisers?

You could have a leading expert appraising one of your works and still end up selling a piece for less than you could have. In fact, this kind of thing happens all the time at the world’s biggest auction houses. That isn’t because art appraisers are bad at what they do — it’s because the thing they are pricing is extremely difficult to pin down, and prices can fluctuate rapidly.

A piece of bread or a certain amount of processed lumber can be easily compared to similar examples in the market to come up with a fair price. But you can’t ever really compare a one-of-a-kind work of art with another. That’s what makes them one-of-a-kind! The extreme difficulty of art appraisal leads us to our next important question.

What credentials should an art appraiser have?

It’s really important to check an art appraiser’s credentials before hiring them. You’ll want to make sure that they have accreditation for compliance with the USPAP. And it is also helpful to know if they are in a professional organization like the American Society of Appraisers. These will usually have certification that goes above and beyond, ensuring that you’re getting a well trained and vetted appraiser.

How often should I appraise my art?

No matter the reason for getting an art appraisal, you’ll want to update them from time to time. Most legally relevant appraisals are good for 10 years. But the market can change much quicker than that. If you follow those ups and downs, it will sometimes be helpful to reappraise works of art — especially if not doing so will leave you under insured.

When you are looking to sell a work of art, you’ll benefit from a recent appraisal, depending on the actual value of the piece. For instance, if you are going to sell a few limited edition prints for around $100 a piece, an appraisal will likely not be worth the added cost.

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Tips for Buying Art During Uncertain Times

It’s no secret that things are feeling a bit nervous in the economy. From high inflation to talk of a potential recession, it seems that a lot of people are getting anxious. That kind of talk makes it hard to feel confident when you are doing any kind of investing. And if you are buying art as an investment, it’s really no different.

Even if you are buying art as a collector who simply loves the beauty of a piece, it can still be unsettling to buy things up when you aren’t sure what tomorrow will look like economically. After all, buying art can become expensive, and when there might be a recession just around the corner, one wonders if that money wouldn’t be better spent somewhere else.

So on a certain level, this isn’t the easiest time to go around shelling out your cash for artwork. But you might be surprised to find that, in other ways, it can be a fine time to collect. Let’s look at a few of the burning questions going on among collectors right now and see if we can give some answers that help you navigate these times.

Is art recession proof?

The major question people ask themselves at a time like this is whether or not art is “recession proof.” If it is, maybe holding on to a bunch of artwork right now is fine. If not, how are we supposed to be buying art when a recession might hit? Now, that is a complicated thing to understand. First of all, there is no standard meaning of the term “recession proof.” It can mean different things to different people. But for the most part, it means an asset that performs better than most others during a recession.

So, is art one of those assets? Yes and no.

For top blue-chip artwork, there can still be major bidding frenzies and high prices even in the worst of economic times. So if you are selling Basquiats and Picassos, there’s no need to worry. But what about the rest of us?

Much of the primary and secondary art market will see prices go down during recessions. That’s because all that discretionary spending on art dries up pretty fast. Lowers prices aren’t all bad. They are a benefit to collectors, for instance. You can get a lot more art for your dollar during a recession while also giving funds to the galleries and artists who keep the art world turning.

All this being said, prices do seem to go down less in the art market than in others. On top of that, prices can fall unevenly across categories. 2008 was the single worst year for the art market on record. But even then, Impressionist and Modern Art prices only went down slightly. If you remember what happened in 2008, you’ll recall that other investments, namely stocks, took much more brutal hits.

But here, you might just be seeing the basic dichotomy rear its ugly head again: major blue chip art is more resilient while lesser known and unproven work can’t hold onto its price as well.

Is it risky to buy artwork right now?

The great thing about art is that it actually provides value outside of what you can recoup as an investment.

When an art collector purchases work, they do not have to worry if it will definitely make them money down the line, because it will be a piece of artwork that they can enjoy no matter what. You can’t buy a stock and simply hang it on the wall and admire it — if it doesn’t make you money, it has no value to you.

That means that when we talk about “risk” with buying art, we need to define our terms. Will the art you buy today all of a sudden have low resale value in a week or a month? It might go down significantly, but that’s only a problem if you want to sell it in a week or a month.

This is something that has made art such a beloved asset for such a long time. It weathers the storms of recession rather well, all because it has far less pressure on it to make money. That ends up slowing down supply during a recession — as people find it easier to simply not sell while the market looks weak — and that ends up keeping prices from falling through the floor.

In short, it isn’t any more or less risky to buy art right now as long as you are doing it for sheer enjoyment. If you are buying strictly as an investment, you will have to assess your own taste for risk.

How do you go about buying art right now?

During a recession, it is probably wise to increase caution around major purchases and the decision to sell work. But the general rules remain the same. Fundamentally, if you can easily afford a work of art that you love and want to take home with you, that math still checks out.

If you are wanting to offload work you own, it might not be the best time, especially if art world prices begin to fall. There’s no harm holding on to things through the slow times.

Keep optimistic when it comes to buying art

No one has a perfect working crystal ball, but many people are reading the tea leaves and seeing economic trouble on the horizon. Whether or not that comes to pass, buying art doesn’t have to become a terrifying prospect.

As long as you keep the fundamentals in view, you’ll be fine. And always make sure that you buy art you will enjoy for many years without needing to resell right away for a profit.

And remember, the more collecting you do through a recession, the more you directly support the artists and galleries that make the art world possible.

What Important Role Does an Art Advisor Play

The art world is a wonderful place, filled with enthusiasm, interesting ideas, and that effervescent spirit of creation. But it can also be complicated. Very, very complicated. That’s why it can be very beneficial to get the assistance of an art advisor.

We are living through the most diverse, byzantine art market ever. There are constantly new big names, changing trends, new materials and styles, and the shifting winds of change in art market preferences.

The more money that an art collector is looking to spend, the more important it is for them to get everything exactly right. Similarly, many art collectors just do not have the time to spend at art auctions, getting on the phone with galleries, and scouting the best new voices.

That’s when an art advisor comes to the rescue.

What’s An Art Advisor?

An art advisor will help their client do all of the above and more. For their troubles, they will either be paid a commission on every work of art purchased (say, 5-10% of the original price), or they will be paid regularly (say, monthly).

This might seem like a middle-man at first, but they play a vital role in the art market. They demystify art for their clients and give them a clearer understanding of how the market works. They also connect those looking to sell art with those looking to buy.

While most art buyers are never going to spend enough money to justify paying an art advisor, those who will often find their services essential.

Let’s look at the primary features and duties of an art advisor below.

Education and Qualifications

As with any profession, art advisors need some kind of credentials if they are going to be charging clients for their knowledge and savvy in the art world. There is no clear credentialing body in the world of art advising, and each art advisor will likely bring their own unique education and experiences to their role.

This is why One Art Nation created our Art Advisory programs. No industry-wide standard exists for best practice and advisors are left to their own devices when it comes to navigating the idiosyncrasies of the art market. Art Advisory 101 and Art Advisory 201 have been created to cover the key aspects of running a successful art advisory firm from how to navigate the art world and run a successful art advisory business to following best practice and managing client relationships.

Almost always, an advisor will have an education of some extent related to the art market. Art history is a common education track. But a degree alone is not likely to get many clients. Most advisors will have extensive experience working in the art market, whether as a gallerist, as a curator for a museum, or for an auction house.

This experience gives them a rich web of personal connections, good instincts, and a working understanding of how these institutions and businesses work from the inside out.

Consultation with an Art Advisor

One of the most basic ways an art advisor can serve their client is consultation on a piece-by-piece basis.

When an art collector is interested in a work, they might want confirmation about a few things. Is the price fair? How can I tell if the provenance is real? Is there a different piece that is available and is superior to this one?

Those are natural questions if you are about to spend serious money on a work of art. An art advisor can answer these questions and put the mind at rest.

In this same vein, art advisors can be more proactive in consultation. With a set budget and clear ideas of their client’s tastes, they can find available work that matches these terms. This saves the buyer a lot of leg work, which is crucial for the art lover who always finds themselves busy.

Keeping the Client on Track

When are collectors are looking to build a serious collection, there are many factors to consider to do it right. Unfortunately, most people with the resources to build a collection do not have the time to become experts in a niche of the art world.

Art advisors can help their clients stay focused on the pieces for sale that will build their collection and create synergy between the pieces.

And given that a particular collection has a narrower field of artwork to pick from, an art advisor will also spend their time on the lookout for buying opportunities.

An art advisor will be expected to keep their finger on the pulse of the market, know what is becoming available and where, and have the deep reservoir of specialty knowledge to make all of this relevant for their client’s collection.

Representation at Auction

Auctions can be intimidating places. For the uninitiated, they can come across as chaotic places where bidding wars lead to price tags in the tens of millions.

And that’s not untrue. But the fact is, auctions are great places to buy art.

A good art advisor will be at home at an art auction. They will come armed with research on everything going on the block. Art advisors will know the intricacies of bidding. They will even know some of the other bidders.

For these reasons, art advisors will often represent their client at art auctions. With their connections and knowledge, they can maximize the value of their client’s budget.

Making the Connection

It’s who you know — it’s an old saw that fits the art market very well.

In some markets, there are so many prospective buyers and so little product that the only way to get your foot in the door requires a connection to the seller. Art advisors, with their experience in the field, can be representatives for their clients — leveraging a contact list built over a career.

Why Art Advisors

Art has value. Of course, you can see that in the price tag, but more importantly, you can feel it when you look at it.

But that value can’t be measured precisely, especially if you are looking to purchase art that will maintain or increase its monetary value. There are clues: the artist’s name, the projected market demand for the style, etc. But those aren’t laws of nature, and there are no guarantees.

To make matters more complicated, there is an enormous amount of specialist knowledge and insider connections required to really succeed in building a great art collection.

Art advisors provide this incredibly complex service. They have to bring many traits and specialties together, but when they do, they unlock the door to amazing art. And that’s a service many art buyers are willing to pay top dollar for.








The Art Lawyer’s Diary: Venice Art Biennale & documenta fifteen – Icons of the International Art World Question the Role of Art and the Artist in Times of Global Crisis

The Venice Art Biennale: The Milk of Dreams

Barbara T. Hoffman, Esq.*

The 59th edition of the Venice Art Biennale, under the title of “The Milk of Dreams,” opened to the public on April 23 – November 27, 2022. The exhibition takes place in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini and Arsenal. There are also 88 National Pavilions throughout the city. The curator Cecilia Alemani, the first Italian woman to curate the Venice Art Biennale, responds to the convulsions of our time: Covid 19, climate change, disruption of war, loss of community and culture – by asking us to imagine new forms of co-existence with society and its social structures, technology, and nature: how is the definition of the human changing? What constitutes life and what differentiates plant and human? What is the human relationship to technology?

In an interview, Alemani stated:

“There is a lot of spirituality in the show, especially in the historical micro-exhibitions, which I call ‘time capsules’.

One of the pillar themes is the “post-human” inspired by authors like Donna Hardway, who challenges the idea of the individual being at the center of the world. These ideas are about imagining other kinds of relationships, rooted in togetherness and symbiosis.

At Venice Art Biennale, I was looking at artists who were trying to break with the familiar polarities and dualities that came out of the Enlightenment – mind and body, nature and culture, feminine and masculine and so on – to imagine a world that is more fluid and in-between. That is where the occult and the spiritual come in.

The Milk of Dreams takes its title from a book of Lenore Carrington (1917-2011) in which the surrealist artist describes a magical world, which is constantly reenvisioned through the prism of imagination where everyone can change, be transformed, become something or someone else.”

Alemani states, “In this climate many artists envision the end of anthropocentrism… Others react to the dissolution of universal systems, rediscovering localized forms of knowledge and new politics of identities. Still others practice what feminist theorists call the ‘re-enchantment of the world’, mingling indigenous traditions with personal mythologies in much the same way as Carrington.”

Notwithstanding, it is a paradox that Alemani’s focus remains so rooted and anchored in the Western paradigm: the individual artist and the power of art and the artist to help “us” (the viewer) imagine new modes of co-existence and infinite powers of transformation. Alemani’s curation is brilliant, well researched and the source of new discoveries. Women artists of all generations dominate and others without voices are heard. However, spirituality and magic did not start with the Surrealists. Alemani’s focus is on adding overlooked artistic voice and identities to broaden the western aesthetic canon.

Images from Milk of Dreams Illustrate Alemani’s Curatorial Perspective at Venice Art Biennale


documenta fifteen

Founded in 1955 in Kassel, Germany, documenta is a quinquennial international art exhibition that carries heavy intellectual weight in the art world, customarily programmed for a duration of 100 days in venues throughout Kassel. While held in high regard among artists, curators and institutional directors, perhaps less so among collectors and dealers given its often more academic, intellectual and less market-friendly nature. Normally, the artistic director is a well-recognized international curator: Adam Szymczyk (14); Catherine David,Pompidou Paris 1997 (10); and Okwui Enwezor 2002 (11).

Breaking with this tradition, documenta fifteen poses a radical artistic response to the world’s crisis, at first encounter, a seismic shift in envisioning not only the role of the site and the exhibition, but the very role of the artist and the systems of art production. documenta fifteen is not theme based. It is about process and practice: how do people create the material and immaterial infrastructure they need to nurture and sustain themselves and their ecosystems?

documenta fifteen takes place from June 18 to September 25, 2022, under the Artistic Direction of ruangrupa at 32 venues in Kassel, Germany. The Jakarta-based artist collective has built the foundation of documenta’s fifteenth edition on the core values and ideas of lumbung, the Indonesian term for a communal rice barn.

 The Indonesian word ruangrupa loosely translates as “art space.” ruangrupa’s work is based on a holistic social, spatial and personal practice that is strongly rooted in Indonesian culture, where friendship’s solidarity and community are of central importance.

lumbung as an artistic and economic model is rooted in principles such as collectivity, communal resource sharing, and equal allocation and is embodied in all parts of the collaboration and the exhibition. lumbung is the concrete practice adopted by ruangrupa and the Artistic Team, lumbung members and lumbung artists and all participants on the path towards documenta fifteen, throughout its 100 days and beyond.

“We want to create a globally oriented, collaborative and interdisciplinary art and culture platform that will remain effective beyond the 100 days of documenta fifteen. Our curatorial approach strives for a different kind of collaborative model of resource use–in economic terms but also with regard to ideas, knowledge, programs and innovations.” – ruangrupa

The artist is seen as mediator, and “now we are looking back and asking, ‘what is harvest?’”

14 lumbung members or artists collectives and 53 lumbung artists participate in documenta fifteen. In turn, these artists have been to include their networks.

ruangrupa and the artistic team are aware of the paradoxes in this event. In documenta fifteen, lumbung is still approaching the economy using old paradigms. documenta fifteen is still using the language of and can be understood as a conventional/mega event despite the artistic attempts to approach it as more bottom up. Notwithstanding, the aim here is ultimately the community,ruangrupa stated “lumbung is not only ours now… Own it, and make your own lumbung – ultimately, then, the energy and power of becoming and being is transmitted by the artistic experience transcending the boundaries which divide us to connect us in spirit. The practices and methodology are different.”

Thus, in the opening press conference, the artist Agus Nur Amal PM Toh informs us of his project with students in Kassel which facilitates a series of storytelling sessions based on the Sudanese life principles, Tri Tangua: “Public space contains a multitude of narratives, all competitions for how they can function as truth within the context of an authoritarian state or one where the powerless have no media access, native histories become a site to find answers.”

documenta fifteen takes place in three geographic zones of Kassel: (1) Mitte, the central city part – museums, Fridericianum***, documenta halle***, WH 22; (2) Fulda – Hafenstrasse 76 and (3) Bettenhausen*** – The Fondation Festival Sur le Niger*** (Hubner-Areal) and Atis Rezistans | Ghetto Biennale *** (St. Kuniqundis).

*** Don’t miss these.

Fridericianum (Mitte)

For the duration of documenta fifteen, the former exhibition building has become Fridskul (Fridericianum as school) and is being used by artists and collectives to apply and demonstrate different models of horizontal education that are rooted in life. ruangrupa see it as a – a practice of sharing and a form of architecture often used to store harvests in Indonesian. As a lumbung, as both a domestic place and a social space where all can gather, the cold museum space of the Fridericianum becomes a warm and dynamic place. Artists are sleeping at Fridericianum, eat there communally and hold student encounters at the space.

documenta Halle (Mitte)

Wajukuu Art Project

documenta fifteen advocates for the collective to substitute for art institutions. However, the idea of the collective making individual artworks is more complex and nuanced and warrants further discussion based on each collective’s processes.

Artists in the Wajukuu Art Project have created not only as a collective but as these images reveal, have created powerful works of artistic authorship based on a new aesthetic of the slum and its materials. Wajukuu Art Project’s architectural installation is a tunnel inspired by both Makuru traditional housing and informal aesthetics of the slum. Aesthetic values rest on cultural heritage, cultural attitudes and accessibility of materials.

Britto Art Trust

The Bangladesh-based Britto Arts Trust creates a bazaar, a family kitchen and a large-scale mural all exploring geopolitics, land rights and food.


La Fondation Festival Sur le Niger (Hubner-Areal)

At this time of dislocation and social upheaval, global pandemic, the crumbling of our international legal order and its institutions, immigration, destruction of cultures in the wake of globalization, documenta provides guidance. The Fondation Festival Sur le Niger, founded in 2009 by Mamau Daffe and its individual artists, look to traditions, music and social practices as a means of identity and social cohesion.

Performa, the New York performance Biennale introduced in its last biennale the importance of the  role of architecture and architectural space as  an element of  visual performance artists. Traditional Malian culture recognized the bulon as a sacred space and social structure as early as 1653 with the founding of the Mali empire. The Bulon symbolizes the heart, the past, and the present of the family, a place of decision making and community with the ancestors. It is also a space for teaching and transformation. In this sense the Fridericianum also becomes a Bulon space. “True art,” writes Andre Breton, the Surrealist, “is the one that strives to give expression to the inner needs of man and humanity.” While Alemani’s inquiry begins with and credits  the Surrealists, for this new art aesthetic,  documenta fifteen takes us to more ancient cultures. The Maaya is an integral concept of humanity based on the relationship of the individual and the community. This is a convergence of views where the function of art and social practice are the same.

Atis Rezistans | Ghetto Biennale (St. Kunigundis Church)

One of the most powerful installations is created by the collective Atis Rezistans from Haiti. A fluid collective of artists, working in the Grand Rue neighborhood of Port au Prince, Haiti, the collective was founded by sculptors Andre Eugene and Jean Herald Celeau in the late 1990’s.  Coincidentally, my client in the famous case of AFP v. Morel was with Andre teaching art students during the 2010 earthquake that sparked the case that established photojournalist rights on the internet based on the Twitter TOS. The sculptures embody the spirit of the collective – the style derives from popular culture, Haitian history and voodoo using a range of found objects, mostly what is available in this country for artistic production.

There will be those who ask is this a proper role for documenta? This small sized town in Germany of under 250,000, for more than 75 years has provided intellectual content to the art world as an agent of thought and discussion. Could this have been a conference or a symposium? Maybe. But it is a work and experiment in art making that is important. It is, as was said, not the last documenta but the first lumbung. 

The seeds of what is germinated here have yet to fully harvest. However, kernels can be found in artist activism in the U.S as either the practice or a practice of sharing with the community. One has only to look at the number of artist-endowed foundations, the renewed study and importance of archives, and the focus on artist residencies and leisure time, conversations and storytelling. Black Quantum Futurism, based in Philadelphia, is a documenta lumbung inter lokal member represented by three projects sourced in African diaspora, nonlinear temporalities, quantum physics and housing futures as framework.  Numerous artist-endowed foundations supplement individual artistic practice to use foundations as a community-centered artistic practice or to provide artistic residencies for artists to think and reflect.  Derrick Adam’s Charm City Cultural Cultivation Inc. embodies such lumbung themes as the importance of leisure time and conversation and the power of archives as identity to regenerate and cultivate the rich traditions and culture of Baltimore. Its Last Resort Artist Retreat residency subscribes to the concept of leisure as therapy for the black creative, Titus Kaphar’s NZTHVN, provides  an arts model that empowers artists and curators, education and access to a vibrant ecosystem to create a sustainable art community in New Haven. Art as social practice and process – the spirit of lumbungmay not replace  biennales or art fairs, but it is a present and a future and awaits the harvest.


Barbara T. Hoffman is a preeminent international art lawyer with an undergraduate degree in art history. She has been a passionate follower of the contemporary art scene for years and a regular attendee at the Venice Biennale since the early 1980’s. She has written frequently on law, art and politics for a variety of publications and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics as well as the attorney for AICA USA. She serves on the Board of Performa, the visual Performance Biennale, found the Washington State Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and is on MoMA’s Contemporary Arts Council and Friends of Education. She serves on the board of several artist endowed foundations and advises museums and artist foundations on issues of governance, including board development and conflict of interest. Thank you to Faron Stalker, legal assistant.



How Are NFTs Changing the Art World?

It seems non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are constantly in the headlines. That’s especially true for art lovers. Their world is becoming dominated by news of the latest major NFT releases and the fortunes made overnight by crypto artists.

But what are NFTs, how are they changing the art world, and what can we expect to see in the future thanks to this new technology?

We’ve put together this helpful guide to understand NFTs, cryptoart, and take a peek into the future of this strange new technological phenomenon.

What is an NFT?

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a bundle of information stored on a blockchain that links to a unique, one-of-a-kind asset. That unique asset can be any kind of digital information: from an image file to a sound file to a tweet and beyond.

They are called non-fungible because — unlike cryptocurrency that is also run on a blockchain — they aren’t all equally exchangeable.

When you have a dollar, it is equal to every other dollar in existence. That is called fungibility. Similarly, when you have a bitcoin, it is equal to every other bitcoin in existence.

But NFTs are connected to specific assets. If one NFT is connected to a GIF of a cat and the other is connected to a song about a cat, these are not the same thing. People can sell these NFTs for any price they want, and it is up to buyers to decide if they are worth the asking price.

NFTs have allowed artists, particularly digital artists, to make money from their work by selling to the public. They can create (or mint) an NFT for an image they make and sell it on the market. A blockchain, most popularly Ethereum, will track who owns it — the same way blockchains track the ownership of cryptocurrency.

One especially attractive feature to NFTs are smart contracts. These can be built into the NFT itself, and artists are using them to build in an automatic royalty paid to them every time the NFT is resold. This has an obvious appeal for creators, but there are many applications for smart contracts beyond the art world.

The first NFT is considered to be Kevin McCoy’s Quantum (2014), though they didn’t start making headlines until early 2021 with Beeple selling his Everydays: The First 5000 Days at Christie’s for $69 million.

Today, many digital artists are using them to finally have a way to make money on their art by directly selling to the public. Previously, they would either need to print off a physical copy or make their art in the context of another project — like an ad campaign, film, video game, etc. NFTs allow them to sell the “original” work of art, just as painters and sculptors and all other kinds of visual artists are able to.

What do you buy when you buy?

One of the biggest controversies around the explosion of crypto art is this question: what am I actually buying when I purchase an NFT?

Owning an NFT does not give you copyright of the image. In fact, other people can still access the digital image and make copies as much as they want, storing them on their own computers to view at their leisure. It also doesn’t give you a physical object of the work of art.

Buying an NFT gives you a kind of “ownership” over the “original” digital artwork. It’s similar to buying a certificate of authenticity for a painting, though not necessarily the painting itself.

If this sounds strange, you’re not the only one. Many critics point to this as lack of any real ownership of the art as a fundamental issue. Others are not so concerned. Those who see virtual reality worlds (like the much talked about Metaverse) as the next big thing think that NFT art will necessarily become the way most art will be bought and sold in the future.

Where can I buy and sell NFTs?

The past year has seen an explosion of NFT marketplaces. There really isn’t enough room to list them all, but some of the biggest sites include:

  • OpenSea: This is the largest NFT marketplace right now. It has all kinds of assets to buy, like collectibles and artwork, but also other assets like domain names. It also allows you to create NFTs easily. It’s compatible with more than 150 different kinds of payment options.
  • Rarible: Another major player is Rarible, which is entirely based on the Ethereum block chain. Like OpenSea, you can easily buy and mint NFTs on the platform.
  • SuperRare: This NFT marketplace is hyper-focused on digital artwork. Many features appeal to artists, including smart contracts that pay royalties to creators every time a work is resold.

While there are plenty of other platforms to explore, many of them quite reputable and honest, one should make sure to learn a lot about a marketplace before sending it money. The explosion of popularity in the NFT market has given rise to many scams, thanks to how many people are both interested in buying and not super sharp on the technical details. Be safe and do your research.

Where do NFTs go from here?

Crypto art and collectibles have been a major throughline for much of the NFT conversation. There are also many communities where membership is now built around owning an NFT. But these are the early days, and there is no doubt that new applications for this blockchain technology will be used in the future.

In that sense, NFTs are here to stay. But what is the future of crypto art in particular?

Opinion is divided. Some believe it is a Tulip Mania style fad that will end in a few people making millions and many more losing everything they put in. When you buy a work of art, whether it’s value goes up or down, you still get to enjoy it. But with NFTs, you don’t get to enjoy it any more than anyone else. That means the only real reason to buy is the hope that it will increase in value someday.

Others believe that it will slowly take up the entire art market. Even physical artworks will begin to use NFTs for certificates of authenticity, and as virtual spaces become more prominent in our lives, we will want to put art up on those computer-generated walls. And that art will come from NFT marketplaces.

Without a crystal ball, who is to say? But no one can deny that, in the short term, NFTs will continue to be a major part of the conversation and art market.



Art Fairs & Galleries: Survival Post Covid

Covid-19 pandemic continues to create disruptions in particular for art fairs and galleries. We are now in the process of sifting through its impact and seeing what remains after two years of painful change and loss.

For art fairs and galleries, their entire model was based on in-person experiences. But the field proved nimble, and they began adapting at rapid speed with the use of digital integration.

That digital pivot, along with the meteoric rise of entirely online art ownership through NFTs, have allowed art fairs and galleries to weather the storm. But what does their ongoing survival look like in the years ahead?

Galleries: A Prognosis

The Art Dealers Association of America surveyed gallery owners last year to see how they were handling the pandemic. At the time, things were uncertain to say the least. Among their findings are a few key insights:

  • 70% of galleries had less revenue in 2020
  • 65% were stilling planning to expand their artist rosters
  • 78% did not have to make layoffs in 2020

The overall picture seems less bad than people were predicting when lockdowns went into effect in early 2020. That’s not to say that 2020 saw no furloughs or layoffs for art galleries, or that the massive falloff in revenue didn’t shutter some galleries forever. But coming out of 2021, things are not so dire.

And now in 2022, with vaccination rates up and restrictions easing, the trends seem to be going in a positive direction.

In fact, the move to online sales proved a winning strategy for many galleries, and the fear of massive closures by the end of 2020 appears to have been overwrought.

The Return of Art Fairs

Miami Art Week in late 2021 proved a testing ground for a new trend in art fairs: online augmentation.

The strategy is simple. Implement ways for people to enjoy (and buy) art online without taking away from the physical experience. In fact, while you are creating these digital tools, you might as well make them work with the physical art fair, too.

With Art Basel and many satellite fairs debuting digital sides to their experiences, it feels like the change is permanent. Remember, these were events that were allowed to be held in person and were attended by thousands of people. These weren’t just ways to make things happen in the face of a lockdown.

That combination of physical and digital appears to be the way that art fairs are going to not only keep numbers up during a pandemic, but grow their numbers in the years to come.

But no matter how much digital augmentation goes on, art fairs are uniquely appealing due to the experience of actually being there. For that reason, 2020 and much of 2021 saw an incredibly anemic scene. Yet art fairs have one advantage over galleries: they don’t have to pay the bills month in and month out.

Art fairs are much more capable of surviving a year or two of postponement, while galleries have employees who need a paycheck to survive and consistent overhead to keep their space. In this way, the survival of art fairs is much less precarious than galleries.

Art Investment: The Good and the Bad

Inflation is now ramping up around the globe, which generally means investors will turn to assets like art. In an inflationary situation, the general thinking is that art performs rather well, and that will provide some boosts to the art world, at least at the top levels and in the short term.

The continued interest in art as an investment has good and bad influences on galleries and art fairs, depending on where you land on the spectrum. Gambling on emerging voices rarely does much for artists trying to establish their name in the long run, but there are some galleries that can serve this desire while still developing their roster of artists in a responsible way.

And with lots of investment dollars comes lots of speculation. This is nowhere more clear than in crypto art and NFTs. These marketplaces are now hotspots for collectors of all kinds.

Is that a problem for traditional art fairs and galleries? That depends. Many people buying NFTs are first time collectors, drawn in by their interest in other blockchain applications like cryptocurrency. In a way, NFTs might be a backdoor for more people to become comfortable with buying art as an asset and making the move to buying physical art.

On top of that, many traditional art sellers (in particular auction houses) aren’t waiting around to get involved in the NFT boom. This presents a new avenue for sales, and as long as it doesn’t eat into their traditional offerings, this embrace of NFTs seems like it could be great for galleries and art fairs.

Art Fairs & Galleries Endure

It seems that art fairs and galleries have made it through the worst that the pandemic had in store, and their ability to meet customer needs online was successful.

While the art world is emerging into a much different landscape than before Covid-19, it is well equipped to face the new challenges and even find opportunities in them.

5 Questions with Accredited Appraiser Frances Zeman

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Frances Zeman, who has been an active member of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) since 1980. Her broad client and appraisal experience includes Insurance placement and loss, Estates & Trust matters, Charitable Contributions and other Wealth Management strategies.

But when we really got deep into things, we found out that in reality, her profession allows her to satisfy a favored passion for retail therapy! So, let’s see what else we can find out about Fran…

What do you do in the art world?

I am an ASA accredited appraiser of Fine Art and Decorative Arts and Antiques.

Did you receive any education, training or mentorship that has helped you excel in your career?

A good academic education, including an MA in art history provided a sound basis on which to expand my love of the arts. Joining the American Society of Appraisers and availing myself of their outstanding educational programs provided me with an understanding of what it means to be professional, that appraisal is a profession rather than a trade, and that there is a specific vocabulary to know and methodology to follow; all of these  helped me to advance my career. Many experienced appraisers in the organization provided encouragement and mentorship – both of which were so very important.

What are the most interesting – or most challenging – aspects of your work? 

Every appraisal is an argument for value. Among the most challenging and rewarding problems involve unique properties that seemingly have no answer – but there always is.  Every client is different and to be able to serve each and to meet their needs is one of the most rewarding aspects of my professional career.

Describe your average workday.

We keep to a monthly/weekly plan in terms of projects in house, schedules and progress on each work file; any changes needed are noted. Staff and I keep current with clients and the progress of all appraisal reports and other assignments. Technical issues, emails and phone calls are part of each day.

Any words of advice for emerging professionals trying to make it in the art world?

Academic and professional education are a must – knowledge is a powerful tool. Keep current, never stop learning. Be ethical and follow the standards of your profession. Always reach high.

Learn more from Frances by watching the free webinar, What it’s Worth: Prepare Today for Tomorrow. Along with Edith Yeomans, she will explain why, before thinking about how much your valuable property is worth, it is important to know what you have.

One Art Nation: Empowering Art Collectors and Professionals

We sat down for a chat with Subkit, who were interested in hearing about our entrepreneurial journey in the art world. Here’s how it went…

What’s your business, and who are your customers?

One Art Nation (1AN) – – is THE trusted source of online art market education across the globe. We initially targeted the platform towards emerging collectors and art lovers looking for the basics of collecting. It soon became clear that our membership included established collectors as well, who were seeking information on succession planning, donating collections to non-profits, etc.

Therefore, we recognize and work with the best-of-the-best in the industry to create relevant content that demystifies the art world and empowers collectors and professionals. Through working towards transparency, we increase the confidence in the art-related decisions of our members. And best of all, our growing library of 200+ on-demand videos is available free to art lovers and collectors in all corners of the world!

Further, our Professional Development courses offer all types of professionals with the right tool kit when it comes to art and art-related practices. For example, our Art Advisory 101 and Art Advisory 201 programs act as a much-needed benchmark for art advisors, offering them best practice techniques in their field. Meanwhile, our Art Wealth Management course offers wealth managers, private bankers, family offices, and other financial advisors a true understanding of how the art world operates. It is the only active and accredited continuing education program that focuses solely on art wealth management.

Tell us about yourself

We have been friends since high school, and although our studies and employment brought us to separate corners of the world, we always remained close. When we both returned to Canada after many years abroad, we sat down over a glass of wine, and voila! The idea was born. We came about it quite organically, as we recognized a dire need for accessible information for art collectors. The art market is known for its complexity and lack of transparency. For those just getting into the market, it can be quite intimidating. So, we wanted to help educate both aspiring and established collectors in an interactive yet non-threatening environment. And in 2013, at Art Miami, we officially launched One Art Nation.

Regularly, we hear from art lovers how, by nixing the jargon and cutting out the intimidation factor, One Art Nation has fueled their love for art via our accessible and relevant education. And just knowing how much we would’ve appreciated such a resource when we first aspired to collect keeps us going each day.

What’s your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

1AN has a reputation as THE go-to source of quality online education. We create content that is both diverse and engaging, equally for first-time buyers, established collectors, industry professionals, and generally, those with a passion for art. As such, we have built a strong community with a common interest: ART. We are very proud of this.

Further, we have partnered with some of the most influential companies in the industry, including Art Miami Productions, US Trust, Deloitte, Chubb Insurance, Bank of America, Bonham’s, OCAD, and more. We have been helping leading professional associations and businesses bring relevant art market education online for eight years now. And we have earned our reputation by providing leading-edge technology, unparalleled service, real-world experience, and unwavering commitment to the success of the 1AN Community, whether art expert or art collector.

What’s one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Our biggest challenge, which many business owners can relate to, has been the pandemic, as we were forced to adapt quickly to the unprecedented crisis. As business owners, our survival instincts kicked in to navigate the unknown waters of lockdown over the past two years, from canceled projects and art fairs to adjusting to the loss of partners (galleries, artists, etc.) being forced to shutter. But at the same time, it provided an opportunity to get creative. For example, we formed a new academic partnership, a direction we may not have ventured in pre-pandemic. We also took the time to relaunch the website, with a strengthened focus on our incredible network of art experts and professionals. So although we weren’t chasing art fairs from New York to Miami to the Hamptons and back, we managed to not only stay busy but even to strengthen our position as a trusted resource in the art market.

What are the top tips you’d give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

To start, know that there will never be a right time to start a business, so don’t wait for it. But you can either look at that as the thing that holds you back from starting or use that to push you to go for it – asap, immediately. Be realistic with yourself and your business. Initially, we approached One Art Nation with a sense of false optimism. We were so excited to start making our mark, but we soon realized that in thinking we were going to dominate the art world on day one, we would be failing in a matter of months due to drastic disappointment. Instead, it was clear that the new keyword was: perseverance. And then the key to perseverance is not to lose that excitement we had on day one.

And hand in hand with excitement, have fun with it. We’ve both had lulls over the years when we’ve forgotten to have fun with the business. We’ve gotten bogged down with details with a risk of burning out. But we’ve learned to recognize this in ourselves and each other. At that point, we’ll take immediate action to see an exhibition we’ve been meaning to attend at a local museum or run over to an opening at our favourite gallery where there’s sure to be wine, music, and industry contacts to catch up and laugh with. When you don’t have any fun with the business, you run the risk of losing your drive and failing at your goals.

Read the original interview, as published by Subkit, here.

How Do You Become an Art Auctioneer?

When we imagine an auctioneer, we think of a rapid-fire talker throwing out numbers in a fast paced atmosphere.

And for many auctions, that’s fairly accurate. Many auctions do run at a fast pace, encouraging bidders to get in while the getting is good. The auctioneers will also follow a “chant” — a sonorous rhythm that their fast talking sticks to.

But those kinds of auctioneers don’t quite capture what an art auctioneer does, because art auctions are a world of their own.

We know them mostly for the shocking numbers that appear in headlines every six months or so as a big name auction house breaks a record. But if you have ever attended one, either online or in person, you know that these are much less high energy than an auction just about anywhere else.

Because an art auctioneer is so close to the action and involved so closely with wonderful works of art, many people might be curious about how to become one themselves.

If you are wondering about it yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Below is a short guide on how to become an art auctioneer.

What Skills Does an Art Auctioneer Need?

Before you try to snag a job as an auctioneer, you need the skills in place to succeed. The main skills include:

  • Art expertise
  • Salesmanship
  • Performance

As an auctioneer, you are expected to have an intimate understanding of the value of work being sold on the block and the context that makes it worth the money you are trying to sell it for (auctioneers usually get a percentage of the sale price, so the higher they can get the bids, the more they are paid).

That usually means art auctioneers are experts, typically with an art history degree of some kind and a specialized area of expertise where their knowledge is much more comprehensive.

No matter how educated you are, you’ll still need to do prep work before you step up to the podium, refreshing yourself on all the details. That knowledge can be for flavor, like providing just the right information to get bidders ready to drive up the price, but it can also be highly practical. Imagine the embarrassment of an auctioneer who mispronounces an artist’s name!

As a salesperson fundamentally, the auctioneer also needs to understand a lot about the room they will be running. Are there any known bidders who will attend? What things do they particularly like? Are there any bids on items already? What is the estimated sale price? What is the minimum price for each item? This helps the auctioneer in the heat of the moment finagle the best price for the work.

And a lot of that salesmanship comes down to performance. When you are at a podium in front of a group of people, you have to perform. From colorful attire to your auctioneer chant to your gestures to the way you emphasize certain words, it all can make a difference.

Part of the performance? Endurance. Auctions can carry on for hours.

What Does an Art Auctioneer Do?

The skills outlined above are put to use in every duty that an art auctioneer has to carry out.

Long before anyone picks up a paddle, the art auctioneer is already hard at work with tasks like:

  • Appraising the work that will go for auction
  • Maintaining the auction catalogue
  • Gauging interest of potential attendees, marketing the auction, and connecting with people

These tasks put everything in place for the big day. Knowing what will be for sale, the value of the works, the minimum prices that the seller might have set, and the estimated sale price give an auctioneer a good idea of their goals and the kind of buyers who would be interested in attending.

The auction catalogue is where a lot of this information is presented to attendees. This coincides with displays of the artwork that attendees can visit before the day of the auction — a universal practice for the big houses where things sell for millions of dollars.

And with an auctioneer’s understanding of the art world and the big art buyers likely to attend, they can market the auction to potential buyers. Because an auctioneer gets a cut of the sale price (somewhere between 10% and 15%), it is in their best interest to get the biggest bidders they can into the room on the day.

On the day, art auctioneers will:

  • Be the host and emcee of the auction
  • Introduce and describe the lots (items up for auction)
  • Track and announce bids for the room
  • Decide when to call a winning bid with the strike of their gavel

These duties are the first thing you think of an auctioneer doing, and these are the meat and potatoes of their work. Ultimately, no matter how well you research or how much you network with potential buyers, it all comes down to how you handle the auction.

How do You Get a Job as an Art Auctioneer?

Starting out, many aspiring art auctioneers begin doing internships and entry-level jobs in the art industry. At the beginning, any experience is usually a good experience, but some jobs are better than others.

If you can gain an internship at an auction house, you will have high quality experience to prepare you for the world of art auctions. If that’s just not possible, make sure to attend them frequently. You don’t have to bid to watch. And with all that time spent at auctions, you can get a sense for how an auctioneer performs in the room, then you can go back to your apartment and practice in front of the mirror!

Jobs, internships, and apprenticeships in galleries, art conservation, and auctions are all good options.

And once you feel comfortable in the art world, it’s time to attend auction school. A good auction school will go beyond the nuts and bolts, including guidance on the more difficult aspects — like tax, law, and ethics.

If you plan to work in a state that requires auctioneers to be licenced, auction schools can help you with this process, too.

If you feel highly qualified, you can also shoot for one of the big houses. Christie’s, for instance, holds an auctioneer school every two years, accepting only 40 applicants. Of those 40, two or three will progress to private instruction and careers as art auctioneers at one of the most prestigious art institutions in the world.

An art auctioneer is a vital part of any art scene, with the responsibility of realizing the best price for artwork. Their work is difficult and valuable, and if you think you are up to the task — it’s a great career. Want to read more, check out how to buy art at an auction.

What Do Art Dealers Do, and How Do You Work with One?

Art dealers buy and sell artwork. That was easy, but as you might expect, there is more to it than that.

The art market can get complicated. It deals in one-of-a-kind works, things that can’t be replicated. If there is a painting you want, you can’t necessarily go to a store and buy it. If someone else owns it and they aren’t selling, you are out of luck. And while there might be paintings that are similar, there isn’t going to be another painting just like that.

And it isn’t always easy to find where a painting is for sale or know what paintings are available to purchase at any given moment.

To make matters more difficult, art can also cost quite a bit of money, and its value goes up and down over time. And whenever people are putting down a lot of money for something that might change in value, they need to be sure that they are making a smart move.

So to get the art you want, you need to know what art is available. That means needing to have your finger on the pulse of all the many sellers of art at a given time. You need to know people, you need to have connections, and you need to have the expertise to know when a purchase makes sense on the money side and when it doesn’t.

That’s a lot for someone to do well as a hobby or side hustle. It’s the kind of thing that takes an expert. And that’s really what an art dealer is: they are an expert buyer and seller of artwork.

What Does an Art Dealer Do?

So what is the day-to-day of an art dealer like?

Art dealers:

  • Network and connect with artists and other art sellers and buyers
  • Work with clients to buy and sell for them
  • Research the market
  • Buy and sell artwork

First and foremost, an art dealer networks with others in the art world. Their career is one of making connections with people who might be buying and selling artwork. Artists, gallerists, museums, private collectors, auction houses, and more. Anyone who is buying and selling a lot of art.

They also need to network with clients. An art dealer will often procure work for others, anticipating their needs and the market at the same time.

On top of networking, art dealers need to be on the lookout for art. But that is such an enormous field that they will typically have a specialty. For instance, an art dealer might focus exclusively on a single genre, style, region, or period. This allows them to narrow their search and become experts.

A lot of an art dealer’s time is spent going to art fairs, galleries, auctions and other venues where they can find work and connect with artists, art buyers and other specialists. This element of searching for art is one of the most attractive parts of the art dealer’s lifestyle.

These activities feed into the main one: buying and selling art.

When an art dealer purchases a work, they are looking to sell it later on. They might own a gallery or have clients that they sell directly to. Either way, they are sensitive to making a profit. Unlike other art collectors, an art dealer isn’t trying to put together a great collection. They are trying to make money on the turn around.

An art dealer will typically have a thorough understanding of the work in their field that is available, and they will make decisions on whether or not to buy these pieces based on market demands, likely changes in price, and similar factors.

But art dealers also serve another role in the art world. As major patrons of the arts, they often take a lot of responsibility for fostering the marketplace — promoting new voices, bringing artists together, and connecting people. This ensures that the art world thrives.

Art Dealer Qualifications

There is no official certification you need to become an art dealer, though many have an education in fine art or art history (more rarely, art business). Many are, or have been, artists themselves.

Good places to begin gaining experience are in entry-level jobs at galleries. Here, you can gain a sense of what to look for in paintings, and you can start building relationships with people in the art world.

An art dealer must always be apprised of the current mood in the market and the trends just around the corner.

That means art dealers go through an ongoing education throughout their careers, with their main qualification being their understanding of the market. But this understanding can’t be merely intellectual. They also need a keen eye for art and that intuition to trust a discovery that they make.

When someone can merge that intellectual understanding and intuitive feeling with a web of interpersonal connections in the art market, they have all the makings of a great art dealer.

How Do You Work with an Art Dealer

Artists and art buyers work with art dealers for obvious reasons. A dealer can be the connection an artist needs to get their work into an important exhibition or collection. For a buyer, a dealer means access to an expert’s curated collection that they can purchase from.

You can find art dealers by frequenting galleries and asking for information or visiting membership organization websites like the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA).

This will get you in contact with art dealers who may or may not have space for a new artist or client. They may, they may not — but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Art Dealers: The Facilitators of the Art World

Often, art dealers are working behind the scenes to get galleries new work and help artists reach new heights in their career. Their task is to act as the connective tissue that brings the art world together.

And the great art dealers can be massively influential on the scene. Powerful dealers are capable of setting trends almost single handedly — that’s how important their work is.

Interested in reading more? Check out how galleries are surviving post-covid.

How Has the Art Market Evolved? And What’s Next?

A lot of ink has been spilled over the last year over the changes going on in the art market. And there’s no question that things have changed dramatically.

The pandemic brought about enormous challenges for the art world. From galleries to museums, from auction houses to openings, everyone has struggled.

Obviously, COVID-19 brought online sales to the foreground. No longer able to rely on in-person events and auctions, the art world relied on the new digital tools that have developed over the last several years.

That theme will continue to be a major story for years to come, and it defines all the other trends going on in the market. But other factors are making their presence felt. Let’s look in depth at the ways that the art market has had to evolve over the last year and what is coming up next.

Younger Collectors

Millennials are maturing into an even larger portion of the art market. But what does that mean for artists and galleries?

As digital natives, Millennials feel completely at home with the new digital tools available for finding and buying art. So as their share of the market grows, the friction with online sales will continue to disappear.

But Millennials also bring a lot less money to the table than previous generations.

Remember, this is a cohort that entered a job market rocked by the 2008 financial crisis, and while the economy recovered in some ways, the opportunities for major advancement have lagged behind other economic markers like the stock market.

Student loan debt has also plagued Millennials to a much greater degree than previous generations, especially among those most likely to be purchasing art. This has forced Millennials to put off traditional milestones of adulthood, like home ownersh.

So how do these trends come together?

As Millennials continue to grow as a portion of art buyers, average art prices will likely lower. This is bad news for the few artists and galleries working at the top, but it could spell a lot of opportunity for others.

Especially as these buyers are likely to be engaged in social media, new artists will have the chance to reach out to art lovers and sell directly to them. Younger artists won’t need to take a paycut to sell to these buyers, and they can use free platforms to reach them.

On the other hand, those smaller galleries that typically represent emerging artists will likely suffer for this change.

The Rise of Virtual Art Experiences

Throughout the last five years, many museums have come out with virtual reality and augmented reality experiences to stay relevant to the public.

But during 2020, those technologies have gone from a rare gimmick to gain attention to a vital lifeline between art institutions and a public staying at home.

The pandemic, then, saw a proliferation of these virtual art experiences, with many art lovers trying them out for the first time.

Meanwhile, virtual reality gear continues to lower in price and expand in market penetration. And smartphones are capable of delivering something like a virtual reality experience.

These virtual experiences present new horizons for experimentation and play on the part of artists, as well as new ways for art institutions to engage the public even as they start coming back in large numbers.

A More Collaborative Art Market

In difficult times, people tend to pull together and help each other out. Through 2020, we saw many collaborations between small, mid-size, and large organizations and institutions. At the time, it was a matter of mutual survival. But going forward, will it stick?


The new models of presenting art, from hybrid shows to pop-up events, have shown that there are many avenues the art world has yet to explore.

Those new ideas that permeated 2020 might not reappear in the exact same way, most of them were looking to create a contactless way to engage with art, but they will no doubt inspire new experimentation going forward.

Diversity in the Art Market

The push into digital spaces democratized access to art in many ways. It not only made it easier to find and enjoy art, but it also brought artists from both ends of the spectrum onto the same plane.

What does that mean? The art market has had a year to reassess what it wants and who it is looking for. And in that year, diversity in the art market greatly increased.

While the process is slow, it continues to make an impact.

And while the artist side is diversifying, so is the buyer side. In 2020, Sotheby’s reported that their online auctions brought in a lot of never before seen faces, with 30% of their audience being new buyers. And of those, a third were under 40.

That’s a compelling change. These new buyers will likely continue to be engaged with the art market. This block will push the market in new ways, no doubt, changing up trends in the long term.

The End Result

The changes outlined above were not chosen necessarily. They were things the art market had to do to survive, but the mark they leave will persist.

In the crisis, the changes have likely made the art market stronger than before. It was a difficult year, but as things recover, there are now more people making a living through art and buying art. There are more ways to engage with art than ever before. There are more price tiers available to more people. These are all positive changes.

What we might find after the dust settles is an art market that has evolved to be something much stronger and capable of weathering challenges than ever before.

What Is the Secondary Art Market?

When you begin buying art, you encounter a lot of terminology. One of these is the secondary art market. What exactly is it? And if there is a secondary market, what makes up the primary market?

The simplest way to think of these two markets is this:

  • Primary market: when art is sold for the first time
  • Secondary market: when art is resold

That isn’t so difficult is it?

But when we ask about the secondary art market, we want to know more than this simplistic definition. As you might expect, these two markets work somewhat differently, and a good collector will have a working understanding of how to navigate both.

The secondary art market includes auction houses, some galleries, art dealers, and even resale websites like Ebay. For auctions, however, there are some exceptions. For instance, Damien Hirst has sold his work directly at auction, making it a primary art market for him.

Generally, people want to buy in the primary market if they can. Why? Because it almost always means you are buying directly from the artist or from a gallery that will hand a portion of the money to the artist. Because you are closer to the source, you usually get a better price, too.

Buying directly from the artist has many benefits. This means less overhead, no gallery retail markup, and you’re directly supporting the artist. But even buying from a gallery offers primary art market benefits, because while you might pay more, a good amount of the sale’s proceeds is still going to the artist.

That all sounds great. It makes sense that people would like to buy on the primary market. And yet, many collectors happily do most of their buying on the secondary market. So what’s going on?

The plot, as is usual for the art world, thickens.

The Benefits of the Secondary Art Market

Some people buy artwork for the sheer pleasure of having great work in their home and office. But for those spending a lot of money on art, they typically have concerns above and beyond if a painting looks good.

A main concern for many art buyers is resale value. Whether they are purchasing artwork as an investment or merely wanting to ensure that they can recuperate the value later on at resale, these buyers want to be more confident in the value of a work and the lasting name recognition of the artists they are buying.

If you think there is a chance you might resell a work of art later on, it’s important that the work will gain or at least retain value over time. And that’s where the secondary art market comes in. Because when you buy from it, you have a lot more information to make an informed decision.

See, when you buy on the secondary art market, you can find work that has a longer history of being bought and sold. That allows you to track the change in value over time. If a painting has consistently sold for more money over its lifetime, that’s good to know.

You also have access to bigger names — most collectors don’t have the connections or resources to buy directly from the superstars of the art world. And if the artist is deceased, then you’ll have a very hard time buying directly from them!

Plus, the secondary art market simply has a lot more work on offer, including almost everything you will ever see in a gallery or at auction.

In short, the secondary art market gives you more work to choose from, and the work you find comes with more data behind it.

But the most direct and practical benefit of the secondary art market remains the breadth of work available, including from artists who are no longer alive. If a collector is interested in work from the past, they will have to buy on the secondary art market.

How the Primary and Secondary Art Markets Interact

A really great collector won’t rely on one market or the other. Instead, they use both for different things, and they can make informed decisions on big art purchases only by taking both into account.

For instance, if an artist is selling their artwork directly, it is likely the best price you can find for it. However, it never hurts to check the secondary art market. You might find that the artist’s pieces are available for much less, it seems strange but it happens.

And as mentioned before, the secondary art market can give you guidance on how an artist’s work fares once it is “out in the wild” for years.

And if you are looking to buy from an artist who doesn’t have much if any work on the secondary market? You can still use it to study how artists with a similar style or recognition are doing.

Both markets are important for the art world, serving their own purposes and carrying their own benefits and drawbacks. But to be effective in one means knowing your way around both.

Ask the Experts: How will the art market continue to be impacted by COVID-19 in 2021?

We’ve seen a dramatic change in how we appreciate and purchase art. Our experts discuss how we’re more connected and innovative than ever before, and how this shift has brought about new opportunities but also new challenges.

As a result of COVID-19, 2020 was a year of innovation for the art industry, with immense creativity and experimentation emerging out of necessity. The art market on all fronts had to re-evaluate the old models and embrace change in order to pivot in positive ways.

However, all the innovation and art market pivots did bring new challenges. With social media exploding, together with these newly created online art sharing platforms, there has become a dizzying amount of information to take in both visually and intellectually. The shift to online transactions has also been accompanied by a steep learning curve for both art buyers and sellers, leading to oversights and errors throughout the purchase process.

The impact of COVID-19 has had both positive and negative outcomes in the global art community. But one thing that will never change is that to fully experience the true beauty of art it has to be done in person.

Marla Wasser

Art Advisor | Pursuits Inc., Art Advisory

We’ll move back slowly towards more in-person interaction (art fairs, gallery visits, auctions) but I think that the technology that we were forced to adapt during COVID-19 (such as zoom calls, online art fairs, buying at auction online, etc) will continue to supplement the in-person interaction where necessary.

Annelien Bruins

Art Advisor | Marketing Executive

The art market will shift more and more towards virtual viewing and virtual selling but there will be another way to organize exhibition openings and art fairs.

Stefano Pesce

Art Advisor | Business Development Crozier

We are spending more time than ever at home, and with that comes a need to make the spaces we live in beautiful and special. Moreover, art can have a very soothing and healing effect. We have more time to read, research, analyze and explore all of which are perfect for starting or continuing to collect art.

Moreover, the art market has undergone a digital transformation whereby the focus has moved from showcasing to selling works of art online. There is greater transparency and a wider participation, all of which are positive changes that are likely to stay.

If there is one area however, we should pay attention to and that does concern me, it is that many of the younger, and lesser/unknown artists, often represented by the smaller galleries, are under immense pressure and heavily impacted by the crisis with a significant number of these artists having lost their representation all together or simply being overlooked in a crowded digital space with collectors gravitating to the more established “branded” artist names. As such, I do encourage everyone to veer off the beaten path and explore, possibly with the help of an art advisor, the unknown, not only will you be surprised by the quality and skill on offer, you will also be able to support those that need it the most.

Muys Snijders

Art Advisor | MUYS.ART

Interested in becoming an art advisor? Art Advisory 101 and Art Advisory 201 cover the key aspects of running a successful art advisory firm from how to navigate the art world to following best practice and managing client relationships. Enroll Today

Ask the Experts: What top tips would you share with an art collector just starting out in this dynamic market?

Collecting art can be daunting and most don’t know where to begin. Having the knowledge and expertise to guide you along the way will help you make confident and informed purchases. And always go with your gut and buy what you love as you’ll hear from our experts.

I would find an area of the market you like, and gather as much knowledge about it as possible in terms of pricing, what are representative artists in that area, etc. Being informed yourself will allow you to ask better questions and get better answers before making a purchase in relation to the value, condition, provenance of the piece you are interested in.

Annelien Bruins

Art Advisor | Marketing Executive

Listen to your art advisor but do not forget to listen to your sense of aesthetics and personal taste and sensitivity.

Stefano Pesce

Art Advisor | Business Development Crozier

Always stay true to yourself. Buy the works you like or have a strong affinity with as more often than not, what you like someone else will too!

Muys Snijders

Art Advisor | MUYS.ART

Firstly, engaging in the art world is exciting and emotionally and intellectually stimulating. It is a powerful way to express one’s personality and own a piece of history at the same time. It all begins with passion and volition on the part of the collector to step into opportunities and engage in an educational journey. An advisor will help you navigate around art trends and hype, will consider what aesthetics and life stories are important to you, and will create those paths of inspirational discovery. By facilitating these experiences, the collector will have the opportunity to develop their interests and enjoy active participation in the local and international art world, as well as through online contexts.

Online opportunities cannot be underestimated either – Instagram and other social media platforms can be wonderful (and fun) tools for exploring art and expanding your awareness. An advisor can tailor content to your interests. Ultimately, collecting art is about more than décor, it’s about stepping into an artist’s world and exploring their history, passion, and journey.

Marla Wasser

Art Advisor | Pursuits Inc., Art Advisory

Interested in becoming an art advisor? Art Advisory 101 and Art Advisory 201 cover the key aspects of running a successful art advisory firm from how to navigate the art world to following best practice and managing client relationships. Enroll Today

How to Buy Contemporary Art

Buying contemporary art can often make people tense up. Because it is new, it can be difficult to understand what price is truly fair, what artist is going to go on to be a big name, or if it is going to age well.

But there is another way to look at it. Contemporary art is the cutting edge. It’s what is happening now. For that reason, you can often buy artworks at a more reasonable price, and you can find new voices and styles that you’ve never seen before.

Buying contemporary art is an adventure. And if you go out on this adventure with the right motives and the right perspective, you’ll return with treasure.

So What Is Contemporary Art?

Before you open up your wallet and start doling out money, let’s begin with the basics.

Contemporary art is art being made in our lifetime.

Thought it was going to be more complicated than that, right? Well, don’t worry. Things get more complicated from here.

The art world uses the term contemporary art to set aside all work that is, well, contemporary with us. Modern art was an art movement that began in the late 19th century and ran to the 1970’s. Unfortunately, when most people say “modern” they mean the same thing as “contemporary,” and often non-specialists will say “modern art” when they really mean “contemporary art.”

Modernism broke with so much tradition, choosing abstraction and experimentation over narrative and standard materials. By the end of the modern era, the postmodernists pushed for views and approaches that preferred juxtaposition over one dominant cultural narrative.

All of the contemporary art scene lives in the aftermath of those two revolutions in the way artists create art and specialists think about it.

Add into the mix the fact that we live in a highly connected world, with a kaleidoscope of niches, subcultures, and emerging forms. Contemporary art starts to look like quite the exciting — if confusing — realm.

Rule #1: Buy What You Love

Luckily, when you are looking through the contemporary art scene and trying to find something to buy, you can keep the same guiding principle that serves you well no matter what kind of art you are buying.

Buy what you love.

Whenever you are buying art, this rule should always be first in your head. Always buy work that moves you, that grabs you and simply has to go home with you.

The truth is that art buying is at its most rewarding when you have a deep, personal love for the work. No amount of research or potential profit years down the road should talk you into buying art that you don’t really feel for.

Even if you are unsure of the artist’s future prospects in the market or if other people will agree with your tastes, you must still follow your heart. Why? No one has a crystal ball, and you will drive yourself to distraction if you try to predict the future of the art market. And as for the tastes of others, they don’t have to pay for the artwork and live with it in their home or office.

It is always better to buy a work of art that you love — even if it never makes you a dime or if it makes the in-laws scratch their heads (after all, that’s part of the fun of art, isn’t it?).

Finding What You Love

Of course, it is hard to fall in love with a work of art you never see. So the first phase of buying contemporary art is always research.

It’s never been easier to research art than it is today. Your smartphone alone is probably the most powerful research tool at your disposal. Using image-based social media platforms like Pinterest can give you endless content related to images you already like. Instagram goes further, allowing you to potentially get in touch with artists whose work you adore.

You can also use platforms like Artsy and artnet to discover the details of an artist’s career and the prices their work has sold for in the past. And of course, when it’s safe to do so, get out and see as much art as you can by attending art exhibitions and art fairs.

The more you explore contemporary art, the more of a feeling you’ll get for major trends and emerging voices. You’ll also begin to appreciate just how vast a field contemporary art can be. As art lovers, we live in the best time to buy art so far — with almost every imaginable combination of techniques, materials, and subjects available.

Fine Art Prints: When You Love Something You Can’t Afford

Let’s say you find a painting that rocks your world, but the price more than rocks your bank account. Consider purchasing fine art prints.

Fine art prints have improved greatly over the previous decades, with the cost of reproduction steadily dropping and the availability of archival paper and inks increasing.

While a print isn’t the exact same experience as a painting, they can still be stunning works to put on your wall. And if you are smart about buying them, they can retain and appreciate in value over time. The secret is:

  • Purchase from a limited edition
  • Make sure to have a detailed receipt that proves provenance

Limited edition prints are prints made all at once and numbered. It is limited because the artist will have a set amount, say 100. It is very hard for an open edition print to appreciate value, because more can always be printed. So, when you can, buy limited editions.

As for provenance, being able to prove that the print comes from the artist and from the exact edition you say it does is of utmost importance for the value of a print. Make sure to get proper documentation for this.

Taking Home the One You Love

Finally, you have to take care of the work that you love enough to buy. While this seems obvious, many new art buyers don’t consider this. They quickly learn this important lesson the hard way.

Many works of art are fragile, and no artwork is impervious to damage. Take care whenever you are handling, shipping, or storing your work.

Every form will have its own special needs, and the artists and gallerists you purchase from will be happy to give you pointers, and many galleries even have professional delivery services.

Once it is home in one piece, you still need to make sure you don’t expose most works to excessive UV light. Some work needs to be protected from high humidity areas like bathrooms.

The good news is this: if taken care of, most art will be a beautiful addition to your home for decades, if not generations, to come.