We have detected that you are in USA. Don’t you want to visit    USA

  Monday, 03 March 2014

The art market at present

art market

An approach to the art market today: its influential factors and their components.

"Art is nonmarket" Gerhard Richter

We define the "market" as the virtual environment where supply and demand for a product operates. The art market like any other market is mainly based on this principle.

The art market is composed of collectors, historians, auction houses, critics, gallery owners, managers, art consultants, museum directors dealers, curators. People that sometimes are more close to the financial side of the art world. The one that has less influence in this process is the artist.

Art and the market always coexisted, however, in recent years there was a new phenomenon:

The millionaire purchases

How do you determine the value of art? The value of art is subjective.

The way to assess the artistic objects nowadays is by critics, art consultants, historians and handling buyers. The elements that influence the value today are the source, conservation, historical importance, if it is an unique work, the last sale price, the current price of the artist’ work, and how much the buyer is willing to pay; a factor that is related to many factors.

In the history of the art market we can observe the current relevance of the auction houses.. In the largest and least regulated market in the world, auction houses are powerful legitimating and regulatory authorities. Today, the auction mechanism is the only public art appraisal.

This market is related to the health of the economy, however, buying art subsists the global economic crisis of 2008, known as the Great Recession, which was originated in the United States and its implications. Experts speculate that prices could continue to rise due to high demand.

"People who are dictating the hierarchy of values ​​in the field of art are not experts in aesthetics," says art critic Jason Edward Kaufman. "You are buying in terms of investment rather than artistic values​​."

The millionaire purchases of artwork is an exclusive action of the high purchasing people interested in acquiring luxury items, away from the art world mostly from Asia and the Middle East. The purchase of works of art at incredible figures is closer to the ignorance, fantasy, economic speculation and investment in certain critical value of the piece. It is a transaction where the buyer does not always understand what he is buying.

The role of the artist

The art market is not only the last piece sold. It is more complex than that. It is a trade where the creator of the raw material, the artist, lost his place long ago.

An example of this is the publication of "Art Review" (magazine of contemporary art created in 1949) which publishes annually since 2002, the 100 most influential names in contemporary creation. In 2013, during the first 10 there is only one artist and is at number nine. The remaining are gallery owners, collectors and museum directors.

On one hand, this gives us a clear indication of who are handling the current market.

On the other hand, it should not be taken innocently, market and contemporary artists of the mid-twentieth century introduced a new element: the marketing. The heroic image of the successful artist and all, turns those artists interested in a brand whose main purpose is to sell.

What kind of art is in the current market?

Many classical works are in museums or private collections that are rarely loaned to a gallery. However, the auction houses are able to take old masterpieces to auction from time to time.

The explanation of the demand for contemporary art against the antique has its reason in the subjectivity of the buyer's choice. We can interpret that buyers are interested in the aesthetics of their time and the current universal language.

To conclude

Today has prevailed the idea that the art market is an important part of the art world. That this is the true area where the art substance flows, and that its knowledge should not be alien to artistic training. Mechanisms for exchange and dissemination of the art object are important part of the history of art.

Realistic is to think that the artist requires income to support themselves and their production, beyond perhaps the utopian belief, that art should be outside the market.


The 'top-ten' million-selling art artworks

1. The Card Players (Cézanne) 191.6 million euros. 2012. Private sale.
2. The Dream (Picasso). 116 million. 2013. Private sale.
3. Three studies of Lucian Freud (Bacon). 105.8 million. 2013. Auction.
4. Issue 5 (Pollock). 105 million. 2006. Private sale.
5. Woman III (De Kooning). 102 million. 2006. Private sale.
6. Adele Bloch-Bauer (Klimt) 101 000 000. 2006. Private sale.
7. The Scream (Munch). 90 million. 2012. Auction.
8. Flag (Jasper Johns) 87200000. 2012. Auction.
9. Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (Picasso). 80 million. 2010. Auction.
10. Walker (Alberto Giacometti). 78 million. 2010. Auction.


  1. 2013 Power 100
  2. Mercado del arte: la tormenta perfecta
  3. La burbuja del arte millonario sobrevive a la incierta economía

Melina Nuñez - Tuugo Blog Team - Fine Arts student.- Universidad de la República- Instituto Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes- IENBA

Sign up for Tuugo:
Log in:

If you already have a Tuugo account,
Log in now

We and third party providers from us use cookies on our pages. By continuing to browse our pages you agree to that and accept our Cookie Policy.