artnet AG: Six Audacious Art Market Predictions for 2021
Six Audacious Art Market Predictions for 2021
Artnet's Sophie Neuendorf about the staying power of digitalization and a renewed focus on quality
Berlin/New York, February 11, 2021: The art market just emerged from arguably the most difficult and unpredictable year in recent history. The Covid-19 pandemic caused a synchronized and deep downturn of the global economy and art market in 2020. Social distancing measures and a lockdown of businesses in reaction to the health crisis resulted in falling consumer demand and economic output. According to the Artnet Price Database, global auction sales for fine art fell by a quarter to $9.9 billion in 2020, compared to the previous year. But the Covid-19 pandemic also pushed boundaries and accelerated the art world into the digital age. With this backdrop in mind, Sophie Neuendorf is to take the risk and make six art world predictions for 2021.
1. Digitalization is here to stay
Plato was right: necessity is indeed the mother of invention. During the COVID-19 crisis, one area that has seen tremendous growth is digitalization, meaning everything from online customer service to remote working to supply-chain reinvention to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve the art business. With galleries, museums, and auction houses pivoting online and thinking outside the box in response to the pandemic, a positive trend of accessibility, efficiency, and transparency accelerated within the art world. This also goes hand in hand with a global trend of sustainability and conscious living. The art market's transactional element will emerge as a strong contender to the traditional brick and mortar purchasing process, democratizing the art market and opening it up to a new generation of art lovers.
2. Some emerging artists will start bypassing galleries and begin selling directly out of the studio via social media or other websites
It's already a widespread practice among young artists in Asia, and I foresee it crossing over to Europe and the US this year. With countless galleries, unfortunately, having been forced to close over the last year, many artists may have become increasingly accustomed to selling via Social Media and other websites. Especially young artists may be inclined to bypass the traditional route expected of them by the art world and chose to build their careers independently.
3. There will be a major shift in the market, resulting in a new focus on quality rather than quantity
The past year has forced all of us to focus on what's truly meaningful within our lives. How do we really want to spend our time? Do we actually have to visit all of those art fairs and events? Perhaps we will move to a 'new normal' where multiple editions of the same fair or gallery are unnecessary - but instead are complemented by an incredible and easy to access online offering. Now is the time to excite with quality, depth, and innovation. Because time is precious.
4. There will be more fine artworks sold at auction this year than over the last few years
The generally volatile global market for art auctions will recover in view of the expected economic upturn in the industrialized countries in 2021. As fine art has increasingly become an asset class, buyers will take advantage of last year's fall in prices to acquire works of art at a good price, and speculate on rising prices.
5. Some art fairs will actually happen this year. But they will be a balanced, online/offline experience
With social distancing still de rigueur this year, it will be difficult for fairs to accommodate their usual amount of art-loving and people-watching visitors. Add to that a gallery's sky-high participation costs, especially after a difficult year, and we're looking at only very few fairs happening in 2021. My conservative prediction is that those of us able to travel can look forward to visiting ARCO Madrid (which has been postponed to July), Art Basel in Basel, Volta Basel, Frieze London, FIAC Paris, and Basel Miami, at best. The rest of us will have to enjoy the virtual editions of these fairs again this year.
6. Galleries will evolve as serious contenders to art fairs and traditional auction houses
Gallerists have always been of utmost importance as a bridge between the creative genius of an artist and the wider public of art lovers and collectors. This year, galleries who have embraced the innovation which the Covid-19 pandemic necessitated will emerge stronger than ever. Either through online sales and viewing rooms or collaborations with other galleries and institutions, these art dealers will rise as serious contenders to brick-and-mortar auction houses.
Sophie Neuendorf is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, at Artnet and a contributing writer for the art publication Artnet News and the magazine LUX.
About Artnet Artnet is the leading resource for buying, selling, and researching art online. Founded in 1989, Artnet's suite of industry-leading products has revolutionized the way people collect art today. The Price Database contains more than 14 million auction results from 1,900 auction houses dating back to 1985, providing an unparalleled level of transparency to the art market. The Gallery Network platform connects leading galleries with collectors from around the world, offering the most comprehensive overview of artworks for sale. Artnet Auctions was the first dedicated online marketplace for fine art, providing a seamless and efficient collecting experience for both buyers and sellers. Artnet News covers the events, trends, and people shaping the global art market with up-to-the-minute analysis and expert commentary.
Artnet AG is listed in the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the segment with the highest transparency standards.
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