Georgina Adam picks up on an issue that may ultimately be far more important to the “Is-the-Art-Market-a Bubble?” debate than any question of whether the prices are “obscene.” One underlying driver of the Contemporary Art market is a reflection of the broader economy where a few outsized winners crowd out any second-tier works.
In the art world, we see buyers generating huge demand for a few of the biggest names. Part of this process is simply the centripetal force of culture where blockbuster songs, movies and books overshadow the rest. It is hardly surprising that blockbuster artists would follow suit especially now that art is more concept than craft.
Here’s what Pace’s Marc Glimcher told Josh Baer in Miami a few weeks ago (as recorded by Georgina Adam.)
“It’s inevitable that art will lose value through over-production,” said Glimcher. “It’s like death, it’s unavoidable. The issue is that there is an opportunity because there is a clamour for art, and the mechanism is there to produce thousands of works. It’s easy to get sucked into the system.”
He blamed the fact that “every foyer in New York seems to want the same thing these days”.
That said. Another force is at play here that’s somewhat unique to art now that it is viewed as an asset (as opposed to a consumable good.) In the short term, it is safer to buy an artist with a large market and strong demand. Crowding into the names supported by the major galleries presents less short-term risk even at the cost of long term gain.
So New York foyers have works from the same artists because of the social and cultural currency (it’s easier to be cool with a Ruby or Houseago than it is with an artist on the further reaches of the market spectrum) but also because of the investment security (it’s easier to resell one of those works.)
Most likely, that will not be true in 20 years when it is entirely plausible that art history (and, consequently) the market will value other works entirely.