2013 in review: Influential art market columnists



After the new heights achieved in 2013, we asked the most respected art market columnists from all around the world to tell us more about what is a surprise nowadays on the art market, and are they expecting more for 2014.

Georgina Adam – The Art Newspaper / Financial Times (United Kingdom)
Yes it is still possible to be surprised, as a tiny group of the world’s ultra-rich continue to pursue a tiny group of “favoured” artists, for reasons of prestige – buying trophies – and alternative investment. So while I was astonished by the prices achieved in 2013, I feel that they will generate more supply in the market as owners of works by that small group of artists see this as a good time to sell  and “strike while the iron is hot”. So I would be surprised if the market cooled in 2014. However longer term a key element must be whether Qatar will continue to buy. If one day it slows down, then that could present a big problem.

Thane Peterson – Artnews (USA)
What surprises me is how male-dominated the art market continues to be. Yes, in 2013 prices soared to seemingly ridiculous levels in almost every category: Chinese art, Indian art, contemporary paintings, photography, hyper realist art, Arte Povera, Impressionist art, etc etc. Yet comb through the news and virtually no women artists are mentioned among the top-sellers. There are a few exceptions–Yayoi KUSAMA and MARISOL among living Japanese artists, Beatriz MILHAZES and Adriana VAREJAO in Brazil, Joan MITCHELL among 20th Century American artists, Diane ARBUS among photographers–but in every country and every category the top-sellers are nearly all men.
This is understandable when we look to the past: the contributions of women were marginalized in almost every culture until a few decades ago. For example, the standard American art history books in the 1970s, when I was in college, contained the names of virtually no women. However, it’s hard to understand how this injustice continues in 2013, especially given that so many of the important taste-makers are women (dealers such as Victoria Miro and Barbara Gladstone, auction house leaders such as Amy Cappellazzo, numerous important museum curators).
The reason women artists remain so under-valued, in my opinion, is that the most important collectors continue to be very wealthy men, and they tend to be conservative. They think in tradition terms and assume that the prejudices of the past will continue in the future. If I were an art collector, I would focus on women artists because, over time, things will change. Women artists will gain more recognition, and the price of their work will gradually reach parity with the price of work by men. And that means that over the next few decades the price of work by the most talented women artists will rise much faster than those for male artists.
What would surprise me about the art market in 2014? I would be very surprised if women artists gained more recognition than they did in 2013. Greater recognition will come, but not quickly.

Penny Liu – Harper’s Bazaar Art (China)
For local market, I was surprised that a local new collector (Zhang Xiaojun) just bought a ZAO Wou-Ki in Sotheby’s Beijing this December. After FANG Lijun‘s work was unsold in Poly Beijing night sale, he decided to buy this work with the lowest estimate price (25M RMB) in the next day of poly auction day sale.
For international market, I felt happy to see the 180M HKD, ZENG Fanzhi, but worried that this price may disturb the inner peace of the artist. People may remember the record instead of paying attention to his works which plays an important role in Chinese contemporary art history.
In 2014, more artworks of Chinese contemporary artists will sell over 10M HKD/RMB. This peer pressure especially from money driven power is unhealthy to Chinese contemporary circle.

Armelle Malvoisin – Beaux Arts (France)
There are not that many things that still surprises me on the art market. Let’s start with the new auction records. In a global market, it’s normal to see new billionaires collectors fight for the most prestigious work by the most prestigious artists. At auction, those deep pocketed fights are orchestrated by the two major auction houses.
During art fairs, like Art Basel, those collectors go for the artists represented by the leading galleries. And the institutional exhibitions are validating those choice, and increasing the artist’s price with it. Rich collectors can celebrate owning a part of art history, as well as being part of a few leading trend setter that will discover the upcoming artists before everyone else.
Today, we speak about prestige, pleasure, and investment! A Cocktail that should continue to burst in 2014 at auction, where we might see a new level (200m$ and plus), being reached.

Kelly Krow – Wall Street Journal (USA)
The art market continually surprises me–the way art moves around theworld in ever-expanding, twisty migratory patterns. Chinese collectors arebidding up Giorgio MORANDI and Jean-Michel BASQUIAT now, artists theydidn’t really pay attention to a few years ago, and Koreantwenty-somethings are bidding $100 million-plus at auction for Francis BACON–including the $142 million one that outsold Edvard MUNCH‘s “Scream.” I thought the “Scream” would hold the title a bit longer. I’m alsopleasantly surprised that for all our focus on art as an asset class, someof my favorite moments this year involved encountering art by folks I’dnever heard of–like Yüksel ARSLAN and Arthur Bispo do Rosário and theothers in Venice Biennale’s quirky “Encyclopedic Palace” show. I also lovedseeing Barend VAN DER MEER‘s “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” at New York’s FrickMuseum and the “Dying Gaul” at Washington’s National Gallery. After allthese years, I’m still relieved whenever an artwork takes my breathaway–without a price-tag attached.
That said, I bet someone with a fat wallet tries to break the trophy-pricerecord in 2014. Enjoy that title while you can, Bacon.