Deep Thought Thursday: Is there anything we can count on in the art market?

Damien Hirst has done it again. He’s defied tradition–this time by circumventing his galleries and offering new work for sale through Sotheby’s. New work. Never-before-owned work. This is quite an interesting turn of events in the contemporary art market. What does it mean? Read the article about Hirst and the Sotheby’s sale. (Thanks to Brian Kliewer for the heads up.)

We’ve known for years that things, because of the Internet, are changing in the art market. But we still can’t put a finger on it.

What can we count on? What will remain the same? What can we say goodbye to forever?

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8 comments to Deep Thought Thursday: Is there anything we can count on in the art market?

  • what we can count on: “the famous sculpture of a tiger shark suspended in a tank of formaldehyde, which Greenwich hedge-fund manager Steve Cohen acquired in 2004 from Charles Saatchi for a price reported by the Saatchi Gallery as $12m”… that this “art” will continue to sell because someone “in the know” has named it art. What else we can count on: the first person to figure out the market for the rest of us and write a book will be a gazillionaire.

  • Hirst selling at Sotheby’s is interesting, but more in the “what are the celebrities doing now” sort of way. It is a sort of Andy Warhol moment that 99.99% of artists can’t and shouldn’t connect with. The methods of the art market change, but not all that much. At the end of the day an artist builds a following for her or his art one little brick at a time i.e. do the best work you can for as long as you can, make your shows beautiful, share your enthusiasm with people, be ethical, be polite, stick to your guns.

  • Damien Hirst is to an artist like Donald Trump is to a real estate developer. Both have proven work in their chosen field. But in each case, the work leans more toward glittery ostentation and supreme self-promotion than substantive style that will stand the test of time. I agree with Phillip that artists must build a following one brick at a time. However, we disagree on methods of the art market changing. I think we are at a momentous crossroad where everything is changing in how art is distributed. Not just fine art, but virtually all art whether music, literature, films and other forms are finding new ways to reach consumers at the expense of traditional means. A dynamic that shows no signs of abating soon. I had a fairly recent blog post titled, It’s Not the Economy Stupid, discussing this notion.

  • Tammy, I think that book is: I’d rather be in the studio! I find the question phrased very interestingly. As if I need something in this celebrity “art market” to count on. I think of it more like the art market is anyone you find that has ever thought about buying a piece of art. I’m in agreement with Philip, this is celebrity stuff, not MY art market… at least not yet!

  • As far as the art market changing: I’ve recently been trying to sell some small paintings on eBay, without any luck. Anyone have any sales this way? Or is there a better site? (I’m already listed on lots, but no sales through any of these sites)

  • I’m still working on figuring out the old art market! Seriously, the “art market” is a continuum, not an established thing. The whole idea of our current market was dramatically different 100 years ago, and then think 100 years before that. Now, increments of change are happening at a faster and faster pace. How can an old timer possibly keep pace?

  • Barney: Wish you would have left that link to your blog post. I agree that we’re at a crossroads. Allison: Thank you! I don’t profess to understand the intricacies of the art market, though. So much happens behind closed doors. Casey: I think you’re keeping up quite well for an “old timer”. :)