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The New International Art Market

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Markets in every sector have changed radically over the last ten years, with the last two seeing even more dramatic changes. The art market is no different. In fact, the international art market is entering a new, exciting frontier.

The internet is the main catalyst. It revolutionized the way we buy and sell art, and it’s even opening up new technological horizons that are changing the way we own it.

Once a highly exclusive field, the art world has become an open market… with all the pros and cons in play. A buyer in the United States can find a painting by a Hong Kong artist and within an unexpectedly short time, hang it on their wall on the other side of the world. For every artist who can make a living without representation, there are fewer galleries that can persist. We haven’t seen how all these changes will shake out just yet, but they’ll continue to make waves for years to come.

Above all, the major effect is a level playing field which is providing opportunities like never before. With continued low interest rates, the global reopening and new digital opportunities, art acquisition is booming. Let’s dive in a little deeper to a look at what is going on.


Everything Online

The international art market is more intercontinental than ever. That interconnectedness means that Europe and the United States are not the center of the global art market anymore.

This openness creates unprecedented diversity in the market. That holds true on both the buying and creating side.

For artists, things have never been easier to get started selling work. The barriers to entry have been flattened, and that means many people who would traditionally be held out of the art market are able to sell their work…online.

New voices from backgrounds rarely represented in the international art market are now on the rise. This exciting development is coinciding with a new diversity of art buyers, with unique tastes all their own. The effect is especially strong at lower price levels. Here, there are options like never before. In many ways, it is a new renaissance.


Primary vs. Secondary Art Market Trends

The primary art market is made up of artwork that has never been sold before. The shift online has been a tremendous gamechanger, but it’s also been hit by recent turbulent global market changes.

As mentioned, artists are now able to connect with the public easily through social media, and they can sell their work directly online, rather than getting representation and selling through galleries and auctions. This is driving an enormous amount of art available to anyone with an internet connection. A quick online search tends to reveal a compelling case of quantity over quality.

This reach is very good for many artists, particularly early on in their career; but mid-career artists are hampered by continued rescheduling and canceling of art fairs and gallery openings. The prestigious avenues of access to buyers, collectors and galleries are also changing and will continue to shift along with market trends. The margins galleries make for artists are in flux due to the consolidation among art sellers and their shift to more online sales, which requires competitive prices.

Through everything over the past couple of years, the secondary market appears to be holding up well. The secondary art market refers to work that has been sold before. Because these pieces have an inherent history and scarcity, they can often cost more on average. Along with persistent growth in wealth for those in the highest tier, the current global art market has remained amazingly resilient for most collectors at all levels. Among the patrons of high end art auctions, galleries and museums are new art buyers engaging in their newfound passion for art acquisition. All signs the secondary art market is thriving.


The NFT Revolution

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become a major source of art headlines over the last year. Artists like Beeple have made millions by selling these rare digital packets of code.

And yet, despite the exploding market for NFTs, which is now worth billions of dollars, many people still don’t understand what they are and how they are changing the art world.

NFTs are unique digital items that are linked to assets — like a 3D animation, a video, a song, an image, even a tweet. Scarcity rules. When people purchase these, they get cryptographically-protected, verifiable ownership of the asset linked to the NFT using blockchain technology. Digital provenance. When you buy a work of digital art through an NFT, just like in a limited print edition, your NFT token will have a ‘mint’ number (i.e. 1X1 or 50X100). The number of the original minting will never change. You have a uniquely-minted, non-divisible, trackable form of ownership.

As you might have guessed, many art market experts are skeptical of the long term viability of selling NFTs. One of the powerful benefits of investing in NFTs, is that commissions are automatically hardcoded and dispersed whenever an NFT is sold…digital artists are finally finding ways to make the same kind of money that those in traditional mediums have enjoyed.

That means that no matter what happens, NFTs will likely stick around in some form for a long time to come.


Navigating the New Market

The major takeaway for art lovers is… it’s going to be an exhilarating ride. It will take time for artists, galleries and museums to adjust, but powerful relationships are still core to the legacy and trust of serious art acquisition. Many new innovative collaborations are being created throughout the art world as online options for buying have never been more plentiful and diverse.

Though one can now go direct, when dealing with large sums of money and issues of authenticity and provenance, it is best to work with the guidance of a trusted art advisor to guarantee a smooth, secure transaction.

If you are interested in getting into the art market but don’t know where to start, contact Henry on Pop Art. Henry is an expert in Contemporary Blue Chip and Pop Art.

His art advisory services make finding the art you love easy. In a market that can be confusing, Henry makes things clear, so you can buy with confidence.

Consult the expert — Ask Henry