Young emerging artists are propelling the art market skyward

What is clear from the recent big sales of contemporary art is that booming stock markets and low interest rates are pushing collectors to spend, and they seem to be more interested in works by younger artists. and more diverse.

In London earlier this month, nine of the 10 best performing works of art, that is, pieces that exceeded their estimate ranges by the highest amounts, were by artists under age 45, discovered London-based art market analysis firm ArtTactic by analyzing the results of evening sales of post-war and contemporary art at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips.

And of the 13 auction records the artists set at last week’s evening auctions, nine were from this “young and growing group,” ArtTactic said in its analysis.

Among them, Flora Yukhnovich, a London painter born in 1990, whose I will have what she has, 2020, made £ 1.85million (US $ 2.54million), a record-breaking auction price (at no cost) for the artist, according to ArtTactic. The result was multiples of the pre-sale estimate range between £ 60,000 and £ 80,000.

This group of artists was a “crucial component” of sales, accounting for 23% of the total value, up from 12% last year, the company said. Their importance was most evident at Phillips, which focuses on contemporary art and design, with 30% of the total sales value generated by young artists during their evening sale on October 15, ArtTactic said.

“There is still a lot of energy and interest around this sector of the market – emerging artists and artists of color whose work is driven by identity and personal narrative,” says Drew Watson, Services Specialist. arts at Bank of America Private Bank.

Overall, the art market has been supported by steadily rising stock markets, providing more discretionary income, for those who are wealthy enough to own stocks, to spend on art. Low interest rates are also helpful, because investors aren’t distracted by income-producing securities, and art, which doesn’t provide an income stream, has the potential to appreciate, Watson says.

Total sales of £ 130million (US $ 179million) at the three contemporary evening auctions in London were 7.5% higher than 2019 results – before the pandemic – and up 27% by compared to a year ago, according to ArtTactic.

The London auctions took place the same week as Frieze London and Frieze Masters, which reported “quick sales and major placements”, with many participating galleries, including Stephen Friedman and Gagosian, claiming to have sold their stands.

While many of these sales were for works by artists over 45, works by women and artists of color seemed to dominate interest.

Stephen Friedman has sold the figurative collages of Austin-based artist Deborah Roberts, which the gallery says “represent the complexity of black subjectivity and explore themes of race, identity and gender politics. “, for prices ranging from US $ 125,000 to US $ 150,000. Gagosian, meanwhile, sold the series of nine paintings and nine works on paper by Los Angeles painter Jennifer Guidi titled Infinite waves, which were inspired by Guidi’s time outdoors, in nature, during the pandemic.

Among the biggest ticket sales reported by galleries was a “major painting” by Kerry James Marshall that the David Zwirner Gallery sold to an American collection for $ 2.2 million, and a fabric sculpture by Louise Bourgeois that Hauser & Wirth sold for $ 2.4 million.

Meanwhile, the Pace Gallery sold a work by 38-year-old New York painter Loïe Hollowell for US $ 175,000 and the David Kordansky Gallery also sold the seven paintings by Los Angeles artist Lucy Bull, born in 1990, for prices between US $ 25,000 to US $ 85,000.

While many emerging artists are producing great works, Joe Sheftel, an art consultant and private dealer in New York City, finds that part of the demand is driven by the arbitrage that collectors can create when they purchase works from young artists at relatively low prices and sell them in a constantly growing market.

“With the changing stock market and the disparity in wealth, a lot of people have US $ 10,000 to experiment with or try out a younger artist,” Sheftel explains.

Such momentum, along with prices that skyrocket above reasonable estimates at auctions, make it difficult for some longtime collectors, he adds.

Sheftel works with a collector, for example, who has purchased works by emerging artists for decades in an approach that typically involved knowing and supporting those artists and their galleries over time. Galleries often prefer these kinds of collectors to those who just want to buy and return a painting for profit.

But today, “the demand is so great that things that were once important to getting work or gaining access no longer have the same weight,” Sheftel says.

The demand for emerging artists and artists from more diverse backgrounds has accelerated during the pandemic period due to the double factor of rapid wealth creation at the high end – thanks to the steady rise in the stock market. –and an influential, race-driven social movement and social justice protests erupted in the spring of 2020 in the United States, Watson says.

“We still see this happening in the market,” he adds, although he sees collectors becoming more discerning with so much inventory on the market now.

“What we advise our clients is to be judicious because there are some really important artists and important works that are currently being traded, but there are those that may not have resistance,” he says. .

Some of these market dynamics could change in the coming months with a flood of top notch artwork hitting the market during a few big sales. Many senders had suspended the sale of valuable works during the pandemic, so their emergence could now generate strong interest from pent-up demand.

Sales include the auction by Sotheby’s of 11 works by Pablo Picasso sold by


MGM Resorts

Saturday. Additionally, at the November auctions in New York, Sotheby’s will offer the first part of its $ 600 million Macklowe Collection sale, featuring powerful pieces by Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol, among others.

At its flagship November sales in New York, Christie’s will auction Edwin Cox’s $ 200 million Impressionist collection, including works by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne and Gustave Caillebotte, among other prominent works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Warhol, Picasso, and Ed Ruscha.

The influx of supply will mean sellers will have less bargaining power with auction houses over commission structures, but it will also mean the return of high-end sales, Watson says. While the market has been robust recently – with sales to date already exceeding 2019 results – few paints have produced eight-figure sales. That should change, he adds.

But Watson expects a new generation of collectors to continue to be interested in young, diverse artists, and he expects collectibles and street art to continue to do well. For anyone who questions the latter, consider the sale of Banksy’s by Sotheby’s on October 14 in London. Love is in the trash for $ 25 million, the biggest ticket ever made at the London auction. The estimate range was between $ 5.5 million and $ 8.2 million.

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