Chomp! Post-COVID reality just took a big bite out of the art market.
After staging a blazing comeback from the pandemic in 2021 and 2022, when near-zero interest rates and (let’s be honest) a healthy dose of boredom flooded money into everything from historical masterpieces to animal NFTs, the great global marketplace for fine art lost a whole lot of value—and dynamism—in the first half of 2023. Was it the economy, haunted by the specter of an around-the-corner recession? A lack of supply? A weakening of demand? A world on fire from war and climate change? Let’s just go with: all of the above.
Some see the falling prices as a much-needed reset, a return to the real. But is the art market still fun if it’s rational? Yes… if you’re a buyer. All of a sudden, if you are a collector, an investor, or a semi-pro combination of the two, now is the time to be choosy and strike bargains—especially, perhaps, in the ultra-contemporary sector of young art that, after getting supernova-hot over the past two years, has now seen public prices fall by more than a quarter.
A caveat: if you are looking for a first-rate historical masterpiece with all the bells and whistles, the dynamic seems to flip, so be prepared to pay out the nose.
But don’t take my word for it—read this issue, which also happens to mark five years since we began publishing our biannual Intelligence Reports. Assembled with grace and acuity by Artnet News contributor Julia Halperin, our inaugural half-year edition of the Intelligence Report paints a picture of today’s art market by the numbers, with a wealth of eye-opening data points to help guide your decisions. Want analysis? Artnet News senior reporter Katya Kazakina’s in-depth investigation of the spring auctions paints a bracing picture of the art industry waking up to its new normal. Artnet News and Morgan Stanley take a closer look at the market for trophy lots and reveal how factors ranging from the location of a sale to the type of auction can affect performance. Art and pop culture editor Min Chen dips a thermometer into the state of the digital art market amid crypto winter. (What’s it like? Pretty chilly.) Vivienne Chow delves into Asia’s post-Covid sales landscape, where untapped potential gleams amid the region’s myriad challenges. And there’s much more, too.
Take a deep breath, and give it a read.
After all, amid disruption, opportunity knocks.
– Andrew Goldstein, Editor-in-Chief of Artnet News
— TABLE OF CONTENTS —
- By the Numbers: Find out exactly how much the art market has contracted so far this year.
- Zero to Hero: Meet the young artists defying the downturn.
- Top-Searched Artists: Discover which artists collectors are most curious about.
- The Best-Seller Lists: See the top ten lots sold in every major category.
– Want to Make a Deal?
by Katya Kazakina
The exuberance that gripped the art trade for the past two years has dissolved. Here’s how to get an edge in the buyer’s market.
– 6 Questions With…
by Min Chen, Vivienne Chow, and Katya Kazakina
- Fanny Lakoubay on where smart money is going in the digital art market.
- Gladys Lin on what the rest of the world doesn’t understand about Asian collectors.
- Saara Pritchard on the new vogue for American Realism.
– Data Dive
by Julia Halperin
- Which category stayed stable amid market turbulence?
- Which auction house came out ahead?
- Who are today’s most bankable artists?
– The Outsize Impact of Trophy Lots
by Artnet News and Morgan Stanley
A closer look at the market for trophy lots reveals how factors ranging from the location of a sale to the type of auction can affect performance.