April 9th, 2009

Michael Kessler Art Installation

The art market in New York is so different from the contemporary market in the Southwest and in our region that we might as well be on different planets. For our regional art market, prices are determined by the artist’s price list and recent sales. Most artists in this region increase their prices about 5-10% every few years; again, depending on sales and availability, as well as exhibitions and press, etc. Artists and their prices are rarely volatile and it’s even more rare to see decreases in their work’s value. Although you’re never going to make millions investing in regional artists, you’ll also never see huge decreases in value. Again, at Gallery MAR, we always recommend investing in art for yourself, for your life, and buying what you love.

But in New York, especially in the last few years (2000-2006) it has been “anything goes!”  for sales at the auction houses. Critics of this market say a lack of oversight in the art market permits manipulation (akin to Hedge-fund manipulation). Dealers, who can artificially inflate auction prices, or buyers who are “in” with the auction houses, can buy to drive up the market of their own collections. But others argue that the value of art isn’t determined by money. They say that the art world isn’t an industry and shouldn’t be treated as such.

It’s a fascinating topic and one that merits much discussion.

I was recently directed to this interesting conversation about the much-discussed high end contemporary art market. Amy Cappellazzo (deputy chairman at Christie’s), Chuck Close’s (artist with more than 150 solo exhibitions), and Jerry Saltz (senior art critic for New York magazine) argue against the motion that “The Art Market Is Less Ethical Than the Stock Market.” What’s your opinion? Listen and enjoy, then post your own position!