Q1 2024: 5 Key Takeaways from the Global Auction Landscape

As the initial quarter of 2024 has drawn to a close, the global auction market is navigating through a period of fluctuation, grappling with the persistent effects of economic and geo-political uncertainty.  ArtTactic’s RawFacts Auction Review for the First Quarter of 2024 offers an insightful overview of the market’s current trajectory.

Q1 2024: 5 Key Takeaways from the Global Auction Landscape ArtTactic
Auction Breakdown by Sales Value, 2015-23 from RawFacts Auction Review 1st Quarter 2024 (Copyright ArtTactic 2024)

Here are five notable market trends:

 
 

Trend #1: Persistent Market Uncertainty

The global auction scene experienced a significant downturn in the first quarter of 2024, with total sales from Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips declining by 18% compared to Q1 2023. This marks the second lowest Q1 result since 2016, surpassing only the figures from Q1 2020.

 

Trend #2: Bright Spots Amidst the Decline

Despite the overall decrease in auction sales, Christie’s defied the trend by achieving an impressive 11.2% year-on-year increase in sales during Q1 2024. It stood out as the sole house among the three to witness a rise in sales during this period.

 

Trend #3: Sustained Activity in Online Sales

Sales from online-only auctions experienced a marginal dip of only 3.5% compared to Q1 2023, contrasting starkly with the substantial 20.1% decline observed in live auction sales. Online-only auctions claimed a larger share of the market, constituting 59.8% of total volume and 13.2% of total sales value for the three auction houses in Q1 2024.

 

Trend #4: Mixed Performance in Luxury Collectibles

While certain luxury collectible segments continued to exhibit robust demand, others faced setbacks. Auction sales of Clothing & Accessories surged by 136.0% year-on-year, now representing 2.5% of sales value for the three houses (up from a mere 0.1% share in Q1 2023). However, auction sales of Jewels & Watches and Wine experienced declines of 15.5% and 28.9% respectively.

 

Trend  #5: Paris Emerges as an Important Hub for Single Owner Sales

The first quarter of this year witnessed a significant uptick in sales activity in Paris, primarily fuelled by the Barbier-Mueller collection of Oceanic and African works of art at Christie’s, which contributed $73.1 million to the total of $117.1 million generated through Parisian sales.

 
 
Looking ahead to the second quarter of 2024, the global auction market anticipates pivotal marquee auctions in both Hong Kong and New York, poised to provide insights into the evolving dynamics of the art world amidst ongoing uncertainties.
 
Learn more about the global auction results from the first quarter of 2024 by downloading our in-depth analysis HERE.

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The State of the African Art Market 2024

Expert Insights Amid This Year’s Economic Uncertainties

 

Following the release of the Modern & Contemporary African Artist Market Report 2016-2023, ArtTactic engaged with key stakeholders in the African art ecosystem to gain deeper insights into this dynamic segment of the global art market. Our report revealed that the African segment only experienced a modest decline of 8.4% in 2023, contrasting with the broader modern & contemporary market, which saw nearly an 18% decrease during the same period. Since ArtTactic began its analysis of this sector in 2016, the African art market has undergone dynamic transformations driven by collectors evolving tastes, heightened global awareness, and the emergence of new opportunities. Other key market drivers included increased institutional attention towards African-born artists in recent years and the emergence of renowned artists, such as Marlene Dumas, Julie Mehretu, and El Anatsui, as top sellers both in this sector and the art market on the whole. Through a series of interviews with five key market experts, ArtTactic cultivated a nuanced understanding of the prevailing sentiments among different stakeholders in the Modern & Contemporary African art market, adding further context to our recently released report.

 

We began with insights from Alastair Meredith, Head of Department & Auctioneer at Strauss and Co., who reflected on the dynamic nature of the market today, noting, “while demand for quality Contemporary African art remains robust, there is a noticeable and growing interest in the moderns.” Danda Jaroljmek, Director at the Circle Art Agency Kenya, then highlighted the market’s global visibility, observing that, “we’re witnessing the emergence of more online platforms that extend visibility into markets previously untapped.” Next, Jo Stella-Sawicka, Senior Director at Goodman Gallery, celebrated the international recognition of African artists in her response, stating that, “there’s been a notable focus from international institutions on artists from or connected to the continent.” Furthermore, Hannah O’Leary, Senior Director in Modern & Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s, shed light on the impact of socio-political movements, asserting that, “since mid-2020, we’ve witnessed a surge of interest in African and Diaspora art following George Floyd’s tragic death and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.” Lastly, Kéwé Lô, Director at Black Rock Sénégal, offered a unique perspective rooted in community engagement, sharing that, “Black Rock serves as a sanctuary for artists, providing them with a platform to be heard, supported, and respected in their creative endeavours.”

 

Together, all five African art market specialists provided a diverse range of perspectives on the recent developments, challenges, and opportunities shaping the African art market in 2024.

 

NAVIGATING MARKET SHIFTS AND TRENDS

 

“Tracing an artist’s lineage – whether stylistic or conceptual – has become a rewarding priority for many collectors.”

-ALASTAIR MEREDITH, STRAUSS & CO.

 

During our interview, Meredith illuminated a significant shift towards a deeper appreciation of historical context within contemporary art collections. He noted, “Collectors are increasingly contextualizing their contemporary holdings by integrating relevant artists from earlier generations.” Jaroljmek echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the rising interest in African artists due to the expanding opportunities for exposure through various digital platforms. Similarly, O’Leary called attention to the surge of interest in African and Diaspora art following more recent significant global events, which has resulted in a sustained growth trajectory.

 

On another note, Stella-Sawicka underscored the regional nuances and specificities within the African art landscape. She cited Cape Town’s emergence as an international art hub and the heightened focus on African artists by international institutions. Lô also emphasized the importance of nurturing local artistic communities and providing platforms for experimentation and dialogue. Ultimately, all five experts agreed that the trajectory of the African art market is undergoing a profound transformation and playing close attention to navigating these market shifts and trends will prove vital in serving both the artists and their growing global audience.

CONFRONTING CHALLENGES

 

Amidst a period of remarkable growth, the African art market grapples with a myriad of challenges, from logistical hurdles to infrastructure deficiencies. Meredith underscored the imperative of building robust networks across diverse regional markets, acknowledging the complexities involved. Jaroljmek further highlighted the absence of government support and corporate patronage within the Kenyan art ecosystem, underscoring the need for systemic changes to foster growth. Lô’s insights illuminated the intersection of environmental and social concerns, emphasizing the art residency’s commitment to community engagement and sustainability. O’Leary then stressed the importance of investing in education and infrastructure for sustained growth, recognizing the foundational work needed in emerging markets. Stella-Sawicka amplified this sentiment, drawing attention to the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable communities in the Global South and advocating for sustainable practices within the art industry.

 

 

“A big challenge that is not often discussed in the context of the art market is the disproportionate impact of climate change on the Global South. Important initiatives to address the art world’s response to the climate crisis that have come from the global north, such as Climate Coalition, speak to a context that does not translate meaningfully to the infrastructure, shipping, transport and material realities faced on the continent.”

– JO STELLA-SAWICKA, Goodman gallery

 

 

Yet, despite these challenges, there’s an undeniable sense of optimism and determination among experts to navigate and overcome the obstacles facing the African art ecosystem. Through collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to sustainable development, the African art market stands poised to realize its full potential on the global stage.

 

EMBRACING NEW OPPORTUNITIES

 

In the dynamic landscape of the African art market, challenges intertwine with an array of opportunities waiting to be seized. Lô’s visionary perspective accentuates the transformative impact of community engagement and creative exploration, envisioning a future marked by vibrant growth and enriching cultural exchange. O’Leary champions the untapped potential inherent in the African market, advocating for greater representation of African artists within esteemed museums and collections.

 

 

“We see such huge potential for growth in this market. By 2050, one in every four people on the planet will be African – yet African artists represents just 0.9%* of contemporary art sales value today. Our focus has always been on collectors on the continent itself, who account for approximately two-thirds of our buyers in Sotheby’s African auctions.”

 

– hannah o’leary, sOTHEBY’S

 

 

Stella-Sawicka then underscores the significance of nurturing connections across the Global South to foster dialogue and solidarity among diverse artistic communities. Meanwhile, Meredith identifies education as a pivotal catalyst for market expansion, emphasizing, “Education is perhaps the key driver of a burgeoning market.” Jaroljmek looks towards collaboration and the expansion of exhibition spaces as pathways to growth, asserting, “We need to persuade the big art fairs to accept African galleries.”

 

LOOKING AHEAD IN 2024

 

Despite the prevailing economic climate, the outlook for the African art market remains positive. Meredith projects a trajectory of steady growth, underpinned by the dynamic contemporary scene, affirming, “The outlook is undeniably promising.” Jaroljmek echoes this sentiment, noting a shift towards more strategic collecting practices amidst prevailing global uncertainties.

 

“The market for art worldwide is more cautious, and the African art market is no different. Collectors are closing more carefully, so I would expect that we will see less risk taking with collectors acquiring more established artists.”

 

– danda jaroljmek, circle agency kenya

 

Looking ahead, O’Leary anticipates a significant uptick in institutional recognition for African modernism  in 2024 through prominent museum exhibitions, signaling a widening acknowledgment of historical artists. Stella-Sawicka also underscores the criticality of fostering cross-cultural partnerships and community engagement as essential drivers of resilience and market expansion.

 

The State of the African Art Market 2024 ArtTactic
© ArtTactic Modern & Contemporary African Artists Market Report 2016-2023

As collectors and industry players eagerly await the upcoming Modern & Contemporary African Art auctions this week, the African art market braces for its inaugural challenge of 2024. The London sales kick off at Sotheby’s on 21 March, followed by Bonhams on 27 March. In Cape Town, Strauss & Co hosted their Evening Sale on 19 March, having previously  brought their first selling exhibition for South African artist Alexis Preller to London from 5-10 March. Further details are available here.

 

The African art market stands as a true testament to the intersection of commerce and culture, positioned to play a pivotal role in reshaping the importance of artists from the Global South in the evolving art landscape. With strategic planning, collaborative initiatives, and dedicated talent development, the market offers both cultural enrichment and economic advancement for future generations.

 

Learn more by downloading our Modern & Contemporary African Artist Market Report 2016-2023 now available online.

 

*Based on the total auction sales data from ArtTactic’s Global Art Market Outlook 2024 Report.

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Exploring the Essence of Affordable Art Fair

View of exhibitor stalls at Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Autumn 2023 © Graham Turner

 

A CONVERSATION WITH UK FAIR DIRECTOR HUGO BARCLAY

 

As London eagerly anticipates the Spring Edition of Affordable Art Fair, set to unveil its vast array of artworks from 113 leading galleries at Battersea Evolution tonight, Affordable Art Fair London Battersea Spring promises an immersive experience for seasoned and first-time art collectors alike. In celebration of their 25th year, the fair will also host special exhibitions honouring International Women’s Day and the Pantone Colour of the Year: Peach Fuzz amongst other commemorative offerings. Running until Sunday, 10th March, the fair’s ethos is deeply rooted in democratising the art world. By aligning visitor ticket pricing with other renowned London art institutions, capping artwork prices, and mandating transparent pricing labels, Affordable Art Fair aims to increase accessibility and transparency in the primary art market.

 

In an exclusive interview with Hugo Barclay, UK Fair Director of Affordable Art Fair, we explore the essence of what makes Affordable Art Fair stand out amidst tense competition in the evolving landscape of global art fairs.

 

Fostering a Culture of Accessibility and Inclusivity

 

“Affordable Art Fair has played a critical role over the last 25 years in making art more accessible to an audience who might not have otherwise become art enthusiasts and collectors,” shares Barclay. Both the fair’s price range between £50 and £7,500 and commitment to showcasing living artists underscore it dedication to inclusivity. It’s an art fair for everyone, designed to spark curiosity regardless of background, budget, or level of expertise in the art world. Offering a range of tours, workshops, and feature areas under various price brackets ensures that art collecting can be accessible to every visitor. Notably, millennials are drawn to the fair’s accessible pricing as they come of age and begin to direct more of their discretionary income toward art collecting. That said, the fair’s overall buyer demographic has not changed much in the past decade.

 

Empowering Emerging Talent

 

A hallmark of Affordable Art Fair is its unwavering support for emerging artists. Through initiatives such as the annual art graduate exhibition (in the Autumn edition) and charitable giving programs, the fair provides a platform for budding talents to thrive.” Globally, we have donated over £2.3m worth of stand space and advice to emerging artists and have raised over £1.5m for local charities,” Barclay highlights. The fair’s commitment to supporting diversity extends to gallery participation as well, with approximately 30% of exhibitors hailing from overseas. The fair ultimately offers a variety of perspectives while also taking into account improving upon sustainable and eco-friendly practices involved in operating international art fairs.

 

Exploring the Essence of Affordable Art Fair ArtTactic
Visitors admire an exhibitor’s stand during Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Spring 2023 © Shaun James Cox

 

Striking a Balance Between Access and Authenticity

 

Maintaining a delicate equilibrium between accessibility and the integrity of artworks is a challenge Affordable Art Fair gracefully embraces. “We work closely with our participating galleries to ensure they showcase original work across a variety of budgets and mediums,” explains Barclay. However, rising operating costs pose challenges for all stakeholders, especially the fair’s cherished galleries. By navigating this delicate balance between pricing, transparency, and economic sustainability, Affordable Art Fair upholds its reputation for inclusivity and innovation.

 

Embracing the Physical Experience

 

In an era dominated by online galleries and digital platforms, Affordable Art Fair champions the allure of physical art experiences. “You cannot underestimate the value of physical in-person moments,” asserts Barclay, “the whole ecosystem will always have a preference for the tangible.” By curating an immersive atmosphere and offering on-site framing services, the fair engages visitors in the entire art acquisition process, fostering meaningful connections with gallerist, artists, and the art itself.

 

 

Exploring the Essence of Affordable Art Fair ArtTactic
An exhibitor puts the finishing touches on their stand at Affordable Art Fair Battersea Autumn 2022 © Guy Bell

 

Looking ahead, Barclay envisions Affordable Art Fair evolving into a dynamic destination centred not just around art, but around enriching experiences. “We are always looking to support our ever-expectant visitors,” he notes, emphasising the importance of creating a welcoming space where art enthusiasts of all backgrounds can come together to celebrate artistic creativity. With seventeen Affordable Art Fairs annually in a range of global locations, the fair aims to bring its mission of democratising access to art collection to all corners of the globe.

As the Spring Edition of London’s Affordable Art Fair approaches, it presents an opportunity for art enthusiasts to immerse themselves in an inclusive artistic atmosphere at Battersea Evolution. With a steadfast dedication to accessibility, innovation, and community engagement, the fair stands as a market leader amidst the evolving landscape of socially conscious collecting habits and the dynamic evolution of the art industry.

 

Affordable Art Fair London Battersea Spring runs from March 6th to 10th at Battersea Evolution. Tickets and more info are available here.
 
Update as of 22 March 2024: 
 
Following their Battersea Spring edition (6-10 March), the first UK fair in their 25th Anniversary year, Affordable Art Fair has now reached the milestone of £500,000,000 in global art sales generated for independent galleries and artists.
 
Hugo Barclay, UK Fair Director at Affordable Art Fair, said: “This milestone shows our impact, having helped people start and build collections over the years. It’s very fulfilling to see the joy on people faces as they fall in love with artwork at the fair.”
 
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Unpacking ‘Philanthropy in the Arts’

Leslie Ramos’ Book Under Review

 

As expected from Lund Humphries’ Hot Topics in the Art World series, Leslie Ramos’ Philanthropy in the Arts: A Game of Give and Take is an insightful, analytical overview of arts philanthropy, looking at both giving and taking at the arts organisation level. In spite of the scarcity of data in this area, Ramos constructs clear frameworks for how philanthropy works within arts organisations at the level of ‘true’ philanthropy – what  Ramos defines as extending beyond  being mere patronage, or the status of being a “friend,” to an arts organisation, which is typically associated with receiving perks like free exhibition entry. Instead, she focuses on a true philanthropist’s engagement with organisations and institutions, particularly emphasising small, local organisations rather than individual artists. Ramos clearly lays out good and bad giving and taking, explaining why getting this balance right is crucial to the future of funding within these organisations.

 

Data, particularly the challenges associated with it, both in philanthropy, and more significantly, in assessing the impact of art on society, stands out as one of the most urgent takeaways from Philanthropy in the Arts. This issue can be broken down into three key parts. The first is that the data itself is often scarce, incomplete, and inconsistent across organisations, let alone globally. Analysing the role philanthropy plays, the culture of giving in any particular context, and the funding mechanism itself is complex – conclusive results are rare, if not impossible to achieve. While Ramos goes well beyond speculation, she is right to supplement her research with extensive interviews from key philanthropists and arts organisations working in the space. The second and third data ideas are interrelated. Ramos describes a new wave of philanthropy, driven by tech innovation, trying to rationalise philanthropy. Art, and its benefit on society, is not simply measurable by some data metric. Ramos reminds us that one role of art is to make us uncomfortable, to challenge us, not merely to entertain. The benefits of a flourishing arts eco-system is impossible to capture in the same concrete, numeric way as education, or health, or poverty. As long as purely tech and data-driven philanthropists seek to rationalise their giving, they will not look to art. This is not to undermine the importance of these other causes, but rather to raise the point that art organisations are necessary to a flourishing society, yet their impact and cultural importance cannot be neatly captured in a spreadsheet – but they must not be forgotten.

 

An offshoot of this data problem leads to perhaps the one omission from Philanthropy in the Arts. Ramos sets a stringent moral standard on what makes philanthropy something distinct from art-washing, or simply a social status based transactional behaviour – it has to be about the love of the art, and support for the mission of the organisation. Arguably, according to these terms, those people who actually staff art organisations and their contributions need to be included in any comprehensive overview. Arts organisations, and jobs across the arts industry more generally, are notoriously poorly paid relative to their counterparts outside the industry, for the very reasons Ramos outlines. It is those same dedicated individuals across the arts industry who are truly making large financial sacrifice because of their belief in the cause and mission of arts organisations that allow any arts organisations to exist in the first place. If we could somehow calculate what they are ‘giving’ in terms of low pay, understaffing, volunteer hours, purely because of their love of art, then it would surely be clear that industry workers themselves are true philanthropists.

 

On the whole, Ramos provides clear strategies to better use and maximise philanthropy in arts organisations, and they are an excellent call to arms for Development teams and Culture departments across the globe. In the meantime, for the average reader – continue to buy your post exhibition coffee in the organisations own café, spend your money in the gift shop, and really use your local organisations, so they can continue their ineffable but critical contribution to making ours a richer world to thrive in, rather than simply exist.

 

Stay up to date with the latest philanthropic insights as the art market continues to evolve in 2024 by joining our newsletter and learn more about philanthropy in the art market by downloading some our existing reports:

Philanthropy in the Arts: A Game of Give and Take by Lesile Ramos is currently available for sale as part of their Hot Topics in the Art World Series on the Lund Humphries’ website.

 

Check out the February 2024 episode of the ArtTactic Podcast when Adam Green was joined by Leslie Ramos, author of the new book Philanthropy in the Arts: A Game of Give and Take.

 

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Resisting the Art Academy

Installation view of “Outsider Art: The Collection of Victor F. Keen” at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago, Illinois, 2020. Photo by Cheri Eisenberg.

 

Self-Taught Artists Rise in Price and Popularity in 2023

 

Self-taught artists, commonly referred to as “Outsider Artists”, which is among the more considerate labels given to artists whose work do not adhere to traditional institutional frameworks, have seen a historic price surge within the art market in 2023. This increase in popularity, visibility, and prices of artworks by artists who do not have formal arts academic training or gallery representation is notable.

 

In January 2023, Christie’s Outsider and Vernacular Art auction brought in a sale total of $1.6 million (hammer price) within the pre-sale estimates of $1,244,800 to $2,039,700 USD, giving a performance of 31.6% above the pre-sale low estimate.

 

In Christie’s 2023 auction, Minnie Evans’s Voice of the Third Angel (1963), a work estimated at $7,000 to $10,000 USD, was eventually purchased for $34,000 – 385.7% above the low estimate. Similar works by Evans such as Asian garden (1947) sold in 2013 for $1,500 at Slotin Folk Art, a platform dedicated specifically to self-taught artwork auctions, reflecting a significantly more niche interest in self-taught artwork just a decade prior.

 

This trend continued for popular self-taught artists such as Thornton Dial, routinely pulling in prices exceeding expectations by large margins, such as Dials’s Untitled, a mixed media on canvas piece made in 1991 selling from Jane Fonda’s collection for $85,000. Dial’s work saw sales in the January 2020 “Outsider” auction at Christie’s as well, with The Beginning of the World (1988-1989) selling for triple the pre-sale low estimate price, achieving a final hammer price of $60,000.

 

A shift in cultural attitudes and increase in exhibitions featuring self-taught artists are evident in these auction numbers. In 2022, the Smithsonian American Art Museum opened “We Are Made of Stories: Self-Taught Artists in the Robson Family Collection”, and in 2023 “Creating Connections: Self-Taught Artists in the Rosenthal Collection” was exhibited at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The institutional and market acceptance of self-taught artists coincides with a significant shift in the dialogue surrounding these artists. Lisa Slominski has been one of the pioneers in suggesting an alternative anthology for artists tied to a legacy that confines them within a rigid framework, limiting their creative movement. In Nonconformers, a 2022 book by Slominski, she seeks to replace “outsider”, “primitive”, “folk”,  and “naïve” with “self-taught”, a term she sees as better acknowledging the unique set of circumstances each artist faced in creating their work without the backing of a traditional art institution, while still giving them agency and artistic merit in their own rite.

 

Alongside an increasing focus on artist diversity within auctions, the meaningful difference between the pre-sale auction estimate and final purchase price of works by self-taught artists in 2023 generates reasonable cause to believe that 2024 auctions focusing on self-taught art will continue to command an increase in sale prices, though not without the economic impact of the geopolitical tensions on the art market as a whole. This prediction for self-taught art in 2024 will be tested at the Outsider Art Fair in New York (29th February to 3rd March) and Christie’s Outsider Art auction (1st March 2024).

 

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Navigating the Art Market in 2024

Insights from Key Art Market Experts & Our 2024 Global Art Market Outlook Survey

 

As part of our investigation for the 2024 Global Art Market Outlook Report, launched earlier this month, we reached out to three highly regarded authorities in the art market; Melanie Gerlis, the Art Market Editor-at-large for The Art Newspaper and weekly art market columnist for the Financial Times, Robert Read, Head of Art and Private Clients at Hiscox, and Linda Selvin, Executive Director of the Appraisers Association of America – to hear their takeaways from 2023 and insights on what to expect for 2024.

 

2023 Takeaways

 

ArtTactic’s 2024 outlook survey calls attention to the fact that major global auction houses, including Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips, had a significant combined year-on-year decline in sales (17.5%) in 2023, the downturn likely attributed to the impact of external economic and geopolitical pressures that have been mounting throughout 2022 and 2023.

 

“Buyers and sellers are gradually letting go of the notion that art always goes up in price. There’s been a lot of talk of buyers being more “discerning” in recent years, but in 2023, this seemed too much of a euphemism. Buyers are sitting on their hands and so sellers are waiting.” Melanie Gerlis

 

All our surveyed experts highlighted a shift in both buyer and seller behaviours as their main takeaway from last year. Linda Selvin further noted the clear impact of interest rates, geopolitical unrest, and the post-pandemic recovery on market corrections, while Robert Read expressed surprise (especially in the first half of 2023) at the market’s resilience amidst these global challenges.

 

Despite the macroeconomic forces at play, ArtTactic found that the auction market remained active throughout 2023, with the total number of auctions held up 3.0% and the total number of lots sold up 5.6% from 2022. As experts indicate, the buyer and seller attention seems to have shifted away from the top-end of the market in favour of lower-ticket, high-volume collecting segments, such as prints, limited editions, jewellery, and watches.

 

2024 Outlook

 

Our 2024 survey further mentioned that 68% of experts expect a soft landing for the art market this year (up from 47% in 2023), foreseeing sales to hover around last year’s levels. Meanwhile, 12% believe the downward trend may continue (down from 16% in 2022), and 20% think the market could rebound from last year’s decline (down from 37% in 2023).Experts are also divided about their outlook for the low-end market, with 38% agreeing with positive market development in 2024 and 41% saying they anticipate interest in the lower-ticket items to decline.

 

“I think there is a collective nervousness about 2024 – market sentiment dipped in the second half of 2023 and it feels as though that sentiment will harden in 2024.  On the bright side, interest rates are expected to fall in 2024 and that may well stimulate both economies and the art market.” Robert Read

 

Gerlis agrees with Read, foreseeing a cautious environment with patient sellers and buyers that could potentially be affected by distractions, such as the upcoming US elections. Selvin anticipates that strong sales by those less affected by global events and suggests a stable market may attract new collectors while further theorizing that recognition and acquisition of artist’s works that may not have previously had institutional or market success will continue throughout 2024.

 

2024 Challenges

 

Experts identify two key factors that could impact their outlook, according to the survey. The majority (79%) highlight geo-political uncertainty—specifically, concerns about wars and the escalation of conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East—as the primary challenge facing the art market this year. Additionally, 77% of experts cite concerns about high interest rates, the risk of persistent inflation, and sluggish economic growth, noting that these factors could potentially undermine the art market’s recovery efforts.

 

“Collectors and art professionals will be more in line with their own expectations regarding prices, whether it be buying or selling. Having a greater diversity of works [on offer] in the primary and secondary markets will be of paramount importance.” Linda Selvin

 

In light of the ambiguity mentioned above, Gerlis emphasizes the possible allure of concentrating on short-term taste categories, such as fashion and/or celebrity-based items, and advocates for the market’s conscientious effort to address educational gaps in the realms of art and art history. Read further points to additional economic challenges amid a global recession and the geopolitical risk of China’s potential invasion of Taiwan as obstacles reverberating across all markets, the art market being no exception.

2024 Opportunities

Focusing heavily on lower-end market growth driven by the entrance of new buyers, our 2024 survey revealed a 65% increase in new Gen Z buyers, mainly active in collectible market segments such as handbags, watches, and prints. This mass-market entry proves to be an important force behind the upward trend, yet some experts still express concerns that the top-end market softening will trickle down to the lower segments. Gerlis aligns with 38% of experts surveyed who believe there to be positive market development in the coming year, expecting a shift toward a multi-channel market with higher volumes at lower prices.

 

“We are moving into a very multi-channel market of higher volumes at lower prices. So within the realms of fine art, prints and editions, including photography and sculpture, seem great areas to focus on in order to grow a new generation of collecting.” Melanie Gerlis

 

In addition to the spotlight on the ascending lower end of the market, which experienced a 10% surge in 2023, our 2024 survey investigates four other major trends shaping the art landscape: auction guarantees, the Chinese economy, NextGen artists, and Women artists. Anticipated softening in the auction guarantee market this year does not diminish its significance in attracting premium inventory and single-owner collections. While some guarantors may exit due to diminishing returns, auction houses could explore a shift from heavily backed sales, if the appetite exists. On another note, Read highlights the potential dominance of art fairs for dealers and the continued prosperity of private sales for auction houses as we embark on 2024.

 

As Chinese buying continues to decline, bidding activity may shift away from Chinese and other Asian art buyers in 2024, potentially opening up opportunities for new or previously unsuccessful bidders. However, this shift could also contribute to weakened global demand for art, particularly in the $1m+ segment where Chinese and other Asian buyers accounted for 30% of bidding activity in H1 2023.

 

On a positive note, the NextGen artist and female artist markets present promising opportunities in 2024. Adjusting price expectations for younger artists in response to lower demand could lead to a market correction, appealing to a growing demographic of younger art collectors. Selvin further emphasizes aligning collector expectations with market realities and promoting diversity in primary and secondary markets as a key opportunity in 2024. Meanwhile, women artists continue to make strides in narrowing the gender gap in the auction market, emerging as a robust opportunity area. The prevalence of high-profile women artist museum shows in 2023 further underscores the strength of this segment.

 

Reflecting on the valuable perspectives shared by the seasoned experts above in addition to our 2024 Global Outlook survey findings, it becomes evident that experts foresee a cautious market environment shaped by external distractions. However, the opportunities that lie ahead are diverse and the coming year promises to be a nuanced and ever-evolving chapter shaped largely by the interplay of global events, macro-economic forces, and the resilience of the global art community.

 

Learn even more by downloading our 2024 Global Art Market Outlook Report now available online.

 

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2024 Global Art Market Outlook: Looking Beyond 2023 Challenges to What’s Next?

Following what most may characterize as a tumultuous 2023, the Global Art Market faced the dual challenge of both economic headwinds and geopolitical tensions last year. Global auction sales for Old Masters, Impressionist, Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary Art at prestigious houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips dipped significantly, marking a 27.2% decrease from 2022 and a 12.4% drop compared to 2021. Despite these lower sale results, a record-breaking number of lots, nearly 17,000 artworks, changed hands – showcasing the resilience and adaptability of the art market moving into 2024.

 

2024 Global Art Market Outlook: Looking Beyond 2023 Challenges to What’s Next? ArtTactic

 

The year 2023 witnessed a stark contrast in performance between different segments of the market. While the high-end sector, featuring lots valued at $10 million and above, experienced a notable 30% decline, the lower end flourished. Artworks priced below $50,000 saw a remarkable 7.4% increase in sales value, accompanied by an 18.0% increase in the number of lots sold. This shift indicates a growing interest in more accessible and affordable pieces and perhaps illuminates the effects of younger collectors joining the collecting base. Looking to 2024, we predict this area of the market will continue to grow in size and sales value.

 

The geographical landscape of art sales also witnessed significant shifts. New York, historically a dominant force, faced a 33.3% decline in auction sales, dropping from $5.38 billion in 2022 to $3.58 billion in 2023. In contrast, Paris and Milan experienced growth, with Milan being the sole location boasting positive sales growth at 1.1%. Despite these variations, New York retained its position as the primary sales hub for the global art market, albeit with a reduced market share, followed by London, Hong Kong, Paris, and Milan. As we move into 2024, New York is set to retain its status as the dominant market; however, close attention must be paid toward developing markets, such as Paris and Milan, now experiencing a resurgence of growth following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

 

Influenced by these geographical shifts amongst other factors, specific genres within the Global Art Market also faced significant challenges in 2023. The Contemporary market faced a 12.8% decline in auction sales, with notable decreases in the Young Contemporary segment. Artists that achieved record-breaking results in 2022, including Shara Hughes, Flora Yukhnovich, and María Berrío, experienced substantial declines in the sales ranging from 80.5% to 91.8% respectively. Nonetheless, the new generation of Young Contemporary artists, such as Nicolas Party, Matthew Wong, and Jadé Fadojutimi, set new records in 2023, hinting at evolving tastes and trends. The Post-War art sales experienced a dip to a three-year low, with a 31.6% decrease in 2023. Notable artists like Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, and Lucien Freud contributed to this decline. Post-War art maintained a significant share of total sales despite this, emphasizing the genre’s enduring appeal.

 

In the Modern art market, sales decreased by 20.4% in 2023. However, the market received a boost from Single Owner Collections, accounting for 32.4% of total auction sales. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, René Magritte, and Mark Rothko remained influential in this segment. Impressionist art sales witnessed a substantial 53.4% drop in 2023, following the record-setting year of 2022. Despite facing challenges elsewhere, the Old Masters market remained resilient, generating a substantial $363.4 million in sales, marking only a marginal 5.3% decline from 2022.

 

2024 Global Art Market Outlook: Looking Beyond 2023 Challenges to What’s Next? ArtTactic

Despite challenges faced geographically and within each genre, the year 2023 marked a continuation of the positive sales trend for women artists. Auction sales by women artists reached $780.4 million, representing an 8.1% increase from 2022 and a substantial 39.1% surge compared to 2021. Women artists accounted for 13.6% of total sales in 2023, reflecting a growing recognition of their contributions to the art world. Unsurprisingly given their significant auction records, woman artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Joan Mitchell, and Georgia O’Keeffe emerged as top performers amongst both their male and female counterparts. This trend should serve as yet another testament to the resilient and thriving presence of women artists in the global art market.

 

Another notable highlight in 2023 was the cooling of Asian demand for younger artists, particularly in Hong Kong, where auction sales for this generation dropped from $108.1 million in 2022 to $78.2 million in 2023. This shift suggests a potential recalibration of preferences among Asian buyers in the Contemporary art scene.

 

As the art world steps into 2024, these highlights from 2023 paint a nuanced picture of an industry navigating considerable international challenges while also showcasing resilience, adaptability, and attractive pockets of growth. The convergence of technological advancements and a more inclusive approach to art creation and consumption will play a critical role in shaping the trajectory of the art market in the coming year.

 

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Q3 Auction Review 2023: Is confidence returning to the market ahead of the big Autumn season?

Detail of Alice Baber, Wind Divided Mist the Darker (1972)

Sold for $550,000 at Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sale in September 2023

 

Q3 Auction Review 2023: Is confidence returning to the market ahead of the big Autumn season? ArtTactic

The third quarter of the auction sales calendar typically accounts for only 4-5% of the total annual sales value. However, after a more challenging first half this year (auction sales by Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips were down 18.2%), we have taken a closer look at Q3 to see if there were any interesting emerging trends and what they might tell us about the season ahead.

 

Confidence returning as auction sales rise 8% in Q3 2023: Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips generated $642 million in total auction sales (incl. buyer’s premium) in Q3 this year, up 8% from $595 million in Q3 in 2022. This is the highest Q3 sales figure since 2020, when the majority of Q2 sales were moved into Q3. The number of lots also saw a 9% year-on-year increase in sales in the last quarter. The downward slide in Q1 and Q2 seems to have halted, and a majority of collecting segments are either up or have consolidated around last year’s level. Two notable exceptions were Watches and Jewellery (a 30% fall in auction sales Q3) and Design and Decorative Arts & Furniture (down 47%).

 

Q3 Auction Review 2023: Is confidence returning to the market ahead of the big Autumn season? ArtTactic

Old Masters market drove sales growth: After robust auction sales growth in 2022 (+14%), the Old Masters market continued to grow in Q3, with sales ending up at $140m, more than double that of Q3 in 2022 ($64 million).  If the trend continues, the Old Masters market is on track to exceed last year’s sales result. Notable top lots from this season were the unpublished and previously unknown painting by Michael Sweerts, The Artist’s Studio with a Seamstress, which achieved a hammer price of £10.7 million surpassing the pre-sale estimate of £2 million to £3 million, as well as the guaranteed painting Pentecost by the Master of the Baroncelli Portraits, which sold for £7 million.

 

Q3 Auction Review 2023: Is confidence returning to the market ahead of the big Autumn season? ArtTactic

Post-war and Contemporary sales unchanged from 2022: The overall sales of Post-War and Contemporary art came in at $142 million in Q3 2023, the same level as in 2022. However, we have seen a 11% decline in sales at the lower end of the contemporary market based on Phillips New Now, Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated and Christie’s First Open sales. This could signal that buyers are gravitating towards blue-chip artists in the higher price segments.  

 

Growth across all the three auction houses: Sotheby’s gained the largest market share in Q3 2023, with $331 million in auction sales (+13% from Q3 2022), followed by Christie’s with 46% market share and $277 million in sales (+1.3% from Q3 2022). Phillips accounted for 5% of total sales, and registered a 19% increase from the same period last year.

 

Q3 Auction Review 2023: Is confidence returning to the market ahead of the big Autumn season? ArtTactic

London sales bounces back: Auction sales in London jumped 40% in Q3 2023 compared to the same period last year. Total sales ended up $294 million, up from $210 million in 2022. The results were driven by strong Old Masters sales in July and Sotheby’s Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own auctions in September that generated $39 million (well above its high estimate of $11.3 million). The renewed energy in the London market bodes well for the upcoming October auctions during Frieze week.

 

Christie’s 10th anniversary auction in Shanghai: Between 23 -28th September, Christie’s celebrated its 10thyear in Shanghai with four auction sales (3 evening sales and 1 online sale) that raised $181 million (incl. buyer’s premium), and came in at the higher end of the estimate range. The results are a sign that demand among Chinese mainland buyers remains robust and could signal that confidence is returning ahead of Hong Kong season starting this week. Hong Kong auction sales saw a 12% year-on-year decline in first half of this year.

 

Top 10 Auction Sales in Q3 2023

 

Sale Auction House Date Premium Total
Old Masters Part I Christie’s London 6 July 2023 $68,604,053
Old Master & 19th Century Paintings Evening Auction Sotheby’s London 5 July 2023 $49,598,600
Post-War to Present Christie’s New York 29 September 2023 $28,244,412
Contemporary Curated Sotheby’s New York 28 September 2023 $25,060,769
10th Shanghai Auction Anniversary: 20th/21st Century Art Evening Sale Christie’s Shanghai 23 September 2023 $17,049,305
Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own | The Evening Sale Sotheby’s London 6 September 2023 $15,214,984
The Exceptional Sale Christie’s London 6 July 2023 $14,262,845
Important Chinese Art Sotheby’s New York 19 September 2023 $14,062,205
Latin American Art Christie’s New York 28 September 2023 $13,200,030
Important Jewels Sotheby’s New York 12 September 2023 $13,131,800

ArtTactic Review – Henry Little “Commercial Galleries; Bricks Clicks and The Digital Future”

White Cube New York.

 

The latest addition to Hot Topics in the Art World, Henry Little’s Commercial Galleries is taut, punchy, and full of insider knowledge. Each chapter could have its own review and analysis, raising wide ranging questions on the way the current gallery eco-system emerged, and how it can continue.

 

For the ArtTactic audience the most striking feature of Commercial Galleries is one of Little’s central themes –a lack of hard data. Almost everything is hearsay, estimated, best guesses. Little frequently returns to this distinction between auction houses and galleries – auction houses are based on open data, a willing buyer and a willing seller making a transaction. Galleries, on the other hand, though they are (rarefied and highly specialist) shops, are shrouded in mystery and opacity. Even in the midst of the digital revolution in the art market, there is rarely openly available pricing; simply having the money and wanting to buy a piece will not even admit you to the waiting list to be told the pricing, and there is a real sense of gatekeeping ownership and ability to build a collection. While the narrow range of artists reaching auction at the top houses obscures data on the art market, so too does this intentional withholding of financial information from galleries.

 

This bolsters the second distinction Little highlights between galleries on the one hand, and auction houses and the luxury industry on the other – barriers to entry. While access to the funds to participate in any of these commercial arenas is an obvious barrier, if we assume that potential buyers do have this access, the gallery eco-system is not necessarily open to them. Little describes how known collectors get better prices – thus allowing them to solidify their reputation, and preventing new comers from doing so. While the move toward Online Viewing Rooms, pioneered in large part by David Zwirner, appears to rectify this, in fact galleries largely use this tool to gather data on their clients, what’s hot, and who is selling – pressing ‘enquire now’ in an OVR simply enters you into the tangled web of galleries deciding who is allowed to be told the price of the work, let alone who is allowed to actually purchase it.

 

It’s a shame that an overview so focused on how the business commercial galleries work, and the barriers to entry to the eco-system for buyers, did not speak at all about those who staff these galleries outside of their big-name dealer owners. Living in commutable distance to any of these galleries is an expensive endeavour, especially compared to the actual pay those who do the work of the galleries will earn – before even considering the other barriers to entry prospective arts professionals face.

 

Commercial Galleries is illuminating and provocative, even if it can only shine a light on the opaque nature of the galley eco system – an excellent addition to an excellent series.

Five Takeaways from the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2023

Detail of Celeste Rapone, Interior with Egyptian Curtain and Kale (after Matisse) (2021)

 

The 10th edition of the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report provides new insights into current online art buyer behaviour, and explores some of the new trends emerging. Here are five key trends that could shape the market over the coming 12 months…

 

Trend #1 – Industry consolidation on the cards as online sales slow down:

Significant investments were made during 2020 and 2021 to meet the increasing online demand for art and collectibles, and this has left online art marketplaces with an enlarged cost base in what now looks to be a slowing market. With limited access to financing options going forward and investors wanting to liquidate their assets, one could expect an increasing level of M&A activity this year. 71% of the online platforms surveyed said they anticipated more consolidation taking place in the next 12 months, compared to 64% who said the same in 2021.

 

Trend #2 – The economy starts to bite

Whilst the $1m+ market continues to see strong demand among the ultra-wealthy, art buyers at the lower end of the market, are likely to scale down their buying activity this year. Slower growth, rising inflation and higher interest rates are likely to have an impact on online buying this year. With 30% of art buyers saying they will buy less, as they have less disposable income to spend on art. This was higher among younger art buyers (32%) and new art buyers (35%).

 

Trend #3 – Climate concerns are likely to affect buying behaviour in the future:

Although, the majority (54%) of art buyers express little or no concern regarding the environmental impact of buying art online, the remaining 44% said that they were likely to change their future online art buying behaviour as a result of the environmental impact. The younger generation worries predominantly about shipping, with 64% saying that air freight was their main concern followed by 60% mentioning packaging as a key issue. Half (51%) of online art buyers said they would change their online art buying behaviour due to environmental impact, with a third of young buyers saying they would buy art locally, and another third said they would only buy art online, if sea-freight was being used or zero-emmission vehicles. Almost a third (32%) of all art buyers said they would be prepared to pay more for a more sustainable option of buying art online (and even higher share (35%) of young buyers said the same.

 

Trend #4 – Fractional ownership attracts interest

Over the last 12 months, fractional ownership in art has gained popularity.  So far the adoption in the art world has been low, but could this change this year? Although, only 9% of the art buyers surveyed said they had invested in a fractional ownership in art or collectible over the last 12 months, 61% of art buyers said they were likely to invest in fractional ownership in artworks in the coming 12 months (78%, of younger art buyers said the same). This suggest that the perception of fractional ownership as a viable ownership and investment model is on the increase, and we could anticipate more demand and wider adoption this year. With the global economic outlook remaining uncertain, investors are increasingly looking for portfolio diversification, and 86% of those art buyers that are considering investing in fractional ownership over the next 12 months, are looking at their investment from this perspective. Despite its promises, almost three quarters (74%) of potential investors in fractional ownership of art said that lack of liquidity was the main challenge, followed by 41% who said lack of transparency and prohibitively high costs were key risks in this market.

 

Trend #5 – NFT collectibles lose their shine, but have paved the way for wider adoption

A year ago, many had still large hopes about the potential of NFTs. However, only 12% of art buyers surveyed said they are likely to buy an NFT in the coming 12 months (down from 27% in January 2022), with both younger and older buyers showing similar level of caution about this year’s outlook. Whilst the value potential was still the highest ranked motivation (66%, but down from 82% in 2022) among NFT art buyers in 2023, the expectations seem to have become more muted, as NFT prices and sales have dropped significantly. Motivations linked to social impact and patronage have increased from 39% in 2022 to 54% this year. More people are also seeing the community benefits as a strong motivator, with 44% saying that the network and being part of a community of like-minded people was a key reason for buying NFTs, up from 38% in 2022. The art market is starting to take a more mature look at the technology, and rather than looking at NFTs as collectibles and speculative investments, is now pursuing strategies for how the technology can develop new models and help build a better infrastructure for its stakeholders.