The end of the 2015 brought a spate of news articles declaring the end of the art market boom years. This isn’t the time or place to go into the details except to point out that, apart from the establishment of a very few public prices in the nine-figure range, 2015 was most notable as year of rotation, consolidation and retrenchment.
What’s very clear is that the market that Tobias Meyer christened the ‘masterpiece market’ is waning (or narrowing) as collectors focus on works that they can define for themselves as ‘quality.’ Evidence of this trend comes from the strength in the day sales and strong numbers in categories and artists that have previously not been the focus of price competition.
Scott Reyburn captures this in his column today in the International New York Times:
“There is a plateauing of prices at the highest end of blue chip,” said Allan Schwartzman, a co-founder of Art Agency, Partners, an advisory company in New York. “And this is healthy after five or so years of unprecedented rise. But this may be more a sign of how difficult it is to source top material.”
While the best of artists like Bacon, Basquiat, Richter and Warhol might be at short supply at auction, Mr. Schwartzman said there was still a tremendous amount of dealer activity in postwar and contemporary art in the under-$2 million range. But it is difficult to quantify private sales in galleries and at art fairs.
“What I would say is that there are at least 10 times more collectors seriously engaged in the market than there were a decade ago,” Mr. Schwartzman said.
A Year of Highs and Corrections in the Art Market (The New York Times)