Charlotte Higgins talks her way through the transformation of the British art market in the Guardian. She begins with the amazing rise from 2006 to 2008 and then looks toward the idea that recessions give birth to good art:
But if the YBAs were born out of a recession, they started from a very different place. There was no Tate Modern, no Frieze; being shortlisted for the Turner prize did not guarantee fame and controversy. There were very few collectors of new art, very few commercial contemporary art galleries. The rich filled their country houses with antiques. All that has changed – and it will, I suspect, be a lasting cultural shift. But if the art market is down, it is not out. There are still a lot of people who want to look at contemporary art, and who have the means to buy it.
A fortnight ago I met Stuart Shave, who owns the London gallery Modern Art. “The eagerness of the press to find a crash doesn’t bear much relation to the workings of the art world,” he says wearily. He admits he has been “working three times as hard for fewer sales” – but there is no apocalypse, he says. For him, the days when selling anything at all was a cause for celebration – “we barely knew where to find the machine that printed invoices” – are not so distant a memory that his head was turned by the speed of the boom. What worries him more is the fate of the public sector. “The main concern about the recession is what it means for museum acquisition. Recently, a large majority of sales have been to museums. Except in this last year, they just haven’t been.” Susanna Beaumont, who owns Edinburgh gallery doggerfisher, agrees: “Individuals will rally but institutions’ ability to acquire work will be threatened.”
When the Bottom Fell Out of the Art Market (Guardian)