Museums and institutions
With the recent surge in COVID cases worldwide, a number of museums have been forced to close again. For example, the Verborgene Museum in Berlin, dedicated to women artists for over 40 years, has been forced to permanently close its doors.
The need for a forward-looking strategy to deal with declining visits and funding is driving innovation more than ever. One of them is the digitization of collections. The Rijksmuseum has just released the most detailed photograph of a work of art ever, with Rembrandt’s 717-gigapixel Night Watch (1642) revealing hidden sketches and leading to a complete restoration.
Inspection of the contents of collections and exclusion measures are carried out where permitted by law. Private museums in Asia benefit from this advantage, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to successful sales, as the Kaesong Art Museum’s failed attempt showed.
In China, museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in Beijing are also developing costly patronage schemes to attract private funding from wealthy individuals and increase their governance. On the other hand, the hopeful end of COVID is spurring renovations with multiple openings in the art world planned for 2022, such as the creation of the NFT Museum in Seattle, the first of its kind.
The opening of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (KSMKA) in Antwerp is scheduled for September this year after a 10-year redevelopment plan.
Galleries and art fairs
After several years of cooperation with the RMN in the Grand Palais, France’s most famous fair, FIAC, was ousted from its place in Art Basel. The startling news came as a surprise, although recent payment issues due to canceled events and the growing influence of the MCH group should not come as a surprise in this hostile takeover of slot machines, only to further highlight the consolidation of the landscape for art fairs and galleries.
A number of art fairs have been moved to the end of this year, approaching autumn. The few slots available and the risk of duplication can create additional visitor volume issues, but mostly for the supply chain management.
Another impact of COVID is creating serious delays, forcing screenings to be postponed, like the canceled outdoor sculpture show in Los Angeles by Frieze.
While total sales in the art world did not disappoint at $91 million, lower than average, the thorough sale of old master masterpieces may signal signs of fatigue in a market consumed by high valuations. Other masterpieces announced for March, such as Magritte’s Empire Lumiere (1953-1954), which is expected to sell for $60 million, five Monet paintings that will sell for $50 million, and the recently restituted Franz Marc for $47 million, further refine the price.
The outlook for Asia remains positive for 2022. Sotheby’s has announced the split of its London March Marquee evening sale, which will take place simultaneously between London and Shanghai. This strategic focus is underscored by the recent appointment of a former vice president of APAC Farfetch as head of the auction house in China.
The hot topic of 2021 is following us in the current year. Museums dedicated to NFTs, galleries opening their own metaverse, auction houses curating NFT sales, and traditional artists are invading the virtual space.
Even the largest estates intend to plunge into the digital El Dorado: the heirs of the Picasso estate announced the sale of ceramics and its NFT. However, disagreements within the family delayed the art event. While the NFT market is rapidly catching up with its physical pair, with over $40 billion invested in the Ethereum blockchain in 2021, the rise in market manipulation, counterfeiting, and hacking requires a regulatory framework.
Recent events have sparked the first reaction from Opensea, the largest NFT market. A threshold was introduced in terms of NFTs offered by creators, but this was removed after facing community outrage.