At Meural, we're driven by art democratization and transparency—and so we've developed a series at the intersection of art and commerce. Each installment provides an objective, accessible debriefing of a financial aspect of the art industry.
Two weeks ago, we posted the first article of Art, Inc., on private art foundations. This week we give you our perspective on the art market in total, and what's to come on the series.
by Elinor Case-Pethica
The art market is often treated as a separate entity from the art world that generates it. Even the most thorough of art educations will barely touch on the topic, and many people working within the art world learn about it only through experience with the sectors that they come in direct contact with.
Art is a Giffen good; a purely discretionary and luxury purchase, meaning that trends in the sale of art do not adhere to standard economic patterns. Because of this, fine art occupies a strange and elusive position in the economic limelight. It is an international market worth billions—the first six months of 2016 showed a 6.53 billion dollar turnover from auction houses alone—yet a market that is incredibly difficult to predict or even interpret, because so much of the information surrounding the sale of art is unreported, convoluted, or misleading.
This series aims to break down the various sectors of this opaque and mysterious market to explain how each part works, with an emphasis on the flow of money and spheres of influence. It will touch on auction house practices and structure, art dealers, patrons, advisors, art fairs, curators, donations, private and public museums, galleries, and the role of critics. The ultimate goal of the series is to provide the reader with an overview of the market as a whole to help inform decisions such as art buying or donation, and to create a comprehensive image of how the different parts of the art market influence and interact with each other.