Georgina Adam writing in the Financial Times does her usual thorough job on the subject of art advisors, a profession without qualifications that barely existed a decade ago, including the good (greater global access) as well as the bad parts (cookie cutter collections:)
As an occupation, art advising mainly started after the mid-twentieth century and has really exploded in the past 10 years. Before that, collectors generally relied on art dealers, or were guided by their local museum directors and curators. In the 19th and early twentieth centuries the driving force behind many great collections – often now in museums – were legendary merchants such as Duveen (Morgan, Frick and Mellon), Agnews (Kenwood House) or Vollard (Schukin and Morozov). But “advising is not as new as one might think”, Westreich points out, noting that Velásquez counselled King Philip IV of Spain on his acquisitions in the 17th century.
“Today the playing field is far bigger, and there is no longer a single way of building up a collection,” she says. The vastly expanded art market is not now just concentrated in western Europe and the US; China, India, the Middle East and Latin America all offer a lot of new art and artists. The events are worldwide as well: from art fairs such as Hong Kong and Dubai to biennales, triennials and other happenings, from Yokohama to São Paulo. And the choice is rich, from the proliferation of art galleries to the sophisticated operations of the auction houses. Buyers – who are often busy making money – simply don’t have the time to stay informed about everything that is happening. Advisers’ mobility is important, says Noah Horowitz, author of The Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market. “Their numbers have increased in lockstep with those of independent curators,” he says, adding that “advisers also provide valuable financial services, on tax for instance”.
Hidden Persuaders (Financial Times)