The New York Times has a long history of skepticism toward the art market that borders on an ethical objection to the idea of an art market. You can see it in today’s conflicted and somewhat confused article on the art market’s bias toward Contemporary art. (Collectors are told to buy what they love but then mocked for making a “bad investment.”)
The definition of Contemporary art, however, is getting too broad. Does anyone seriously think Willem de Kooning will disappear from art history? or Mark Rothko? or Francis Bacon?
A recent survey of global collectors by Axa Art confirms that. Among those under 40 years old, 94 percent said they own Contemporary art, more than three times the next-most-favored group, Modern and Impressionist, at 30 percent […]. Contemporary was the most favored group by collectors over 60, too, with 68 percent claiming ownership.
The fascination with Contemporary art is almost certainly driven by the eye-popping, boldface-name-flaunting sales at the high end. The works were by the usual suspects — Rothko, de Kooning, Bacon, Koons — along with a few unusual suspects. Christopher Wool, for instance, an American artist known for his word paintings, had one go last autumn for more than $26 million — a million for each letter of the alphabet and more than three times his previous record price, set less than two years earlier.