With every New Year comes a wonderful sense of optimism and excitement. I have no reason to believe that 2023 will see a considerable change in the Impressionist, Modern and Post-War art market. There are, sadly, a few doom-mongers who forget that with China re-opening, and the US economy faring far better than predicted, this should be a pretty good year for us all – no matter what the sector.
Whilst contemporary artists and galleries might see a little waning in the market this should come as no surprise given the overheating of the contemporary market over the last 18 months. When the works of unproven primary market artists are fetching six or seven figures there can be no surprise that a fall is due. I am somewhat relieved that I no longer have to field calls about the NFT market which appears to have, essentially, nose-dived. The real value is to be found in the more stable environment of Impressionist, Modern and Post-War Art. Women artists, and their legacies, will continue to thrive. There are countless wonderful artists that that are coming to fore from the 1960s that have not been given the exposure they deserve. The Maine artist Lynne Mapp Drexler (1928-1999), the weird and wonderful work of Alice Neel (1900-1984) and the AbEx wonder of Pat Steir (b. 1940) are the artists that I would rate in the Contemporary field. These are artists that have worked at formulating a technique and an artistic language over years of dedication. Many works by trendy street artists and 20-something figurative artists leave me cold, and their prices really have fallen off over the last six months.
The market for art fairs is as good as ever for the top players (Art Basel, TEFAF and Frieze) but for the poorer fairs in need of fresh footfall we might see a contraction. The sad news that Masterpiece Art Fair in London in July will not take place this year, due to costs and a Brexit-induced drop in international dealers, shows just how tricky the middle market for fairs has proved.
Yet, as opined above, I am deeply optimistic about the market this year in the more traditional sectors. The prices from the Paul Allen sale last November show that the market has quite extraordinary depth and that is only going to add fuel to the fire as consignors look to trade. It is still going to be a seller’s market for the best calibre work. I don’t envisage a 1990s-like dip, off the back of interest rate rises, simply because the art market pie has grown so big – there are enough collectors ‘out there’ that can keep the market afloat.
The return of the Chinese to the market and their ability to travel should see a lot of art market interest in the far east – not only the new kid on the block, Seoul, but also in Singapore. It has been interesting to read of the huge investment in the Singapore art scene in recent years. And yes, I do think that there is something contrarian to the view of Singapore as a portal to the libertarian or the avant garde! Singapore’s AG fair this week will prove a fascinating bellwether for the Chinese market and the contemporary market’s standing overall.
Considering all this we are all slightly frustrated in the London trade… looking at the rise of Singapore. Surely one of the few good opportunities to come out of Brexit would be the lessening of red-tape and the appeal of an island art market, just off the shores of the EU and the US, to exciting markets in the far east. That said, we are not seeing the rampant rise of Paris sprinting to overtake London as the centre of the European art market. London still has a wonderful pulling power for business, for lifestyle and for the ability to just get things done.
I shall be in touch about 2023’s forthcoming fairs and auctions, including a review of BRAFA, Brussels, at the end of this month so stay tuned and do reach out if we can help on anything art related!
Finally, well worth a peak at these shows which will be amongst she highlights of our year:
‘Alice Neel: Hot Off The Griddle’ at the Barbican: 16th February until 21st May
‘Peter Doig’ at the Courtauld Gallery: 10th February until 29th May
‘After Impressionism’ at the National Gallery: 25th March until 13th August
Marina Abramovic at the Royal Academy: 23rd September until 10th December
Philip Guston at Tate Modern: 5th October until 25 February 2024