Contemporary art: artists born after 1945.
Fine art: painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video, print, installations.
Period studied: July 2014 - June 2015.
The motor of the Art Market:
Contemporary art has become the primary driver of the global Art Market, a role historically played by Modern Art. This reality - analysed and explained by Artprice in its most recent semi-annual report (August 2015) - has been confirmed by our latest data sets for the Contemporary Art Market.
From a macroeconomic point of view, the European art market (as a whole and excepting Asia) has been suffering from an acute scarcity of Old Master artworks for many years. Nowadays, a similar phenomenon is irreversibly affecting the Modern Art segment as well. Meanwhile, the artists in the Contemporary segment are now clearly benefiting from a rapidly emerging pricing structure rooted in the abundance and transparency of auction results. Artprice's ranking of the global Top 500 artists by annual auction turnover now largely consists of Contemporary artists who enjoy firmly established price levels, a fact that substantially debunks cynical fears advanced by critics of the Contemporary Art market who seem locked into a sterile debate without any economic foundation.
Key figures for the global Contemporary Art Market:
1. Auction turnover of $1.76 billion.
2. + 1800% growth in 15 years.
3. Auction turnover contracted -12% versus the 2013/14 period.
4. China has lost its first place to the USA.
5. The UK posts even stronger figures.
6. France, in fourth place, accounts for just 2% of global auction turnover.
7. An accessible market, with 64% of lots selling for under $5,000.
Free download of the entire Contemporary Art Market Report 2015 in PDF format on Artprice's Twitter https://twitter.com/artpricedotcom/status/651070545115619329
A brand new annual report…
The market for Contemporary art (representing 13% of total turnover on the secondary art market) does nevertheless require a different analytical approach from the one we use to analyse the Impressionist and Modern art markets, which operate in a very different way. This is essentially because the price index of a Contemporary artist is subject to a number of different factors that make it much more volatile.
To capture this reality, Artprice - world leader in Art Market information - has mobilised its econometrics department, its editorial team and its art historians to develop a new method of analysis that provides better insight into the forces driving Contemporary art prices. By focusing on the role played by galleries, retrospectives exhibitions and other media events in promoting artists, Artprice is helping Contemporary art lovers to understand how the price indices of Contemporary artists are often carefully and meticulously constructed and, thereby, facilitating their navigation in this relatively complex market.
At the risk of contradicting certain fantasies about the Contemporary art market, the Report shows how the price structuring process is often extremely sophisticated and planned. As Thierry Ehrmann said back in 1999 to an audience of investors in New York, the Art Market is like the financial market, only ten times crueler and ten times more intelligent.
Focusing, among others, on Christopher Wool, who outsold Jeff Koons this year, Rudolf Stingel, whose works changed hands for less than $10,000 fifteen years ago, Damien Hirst, the out-of-favour enfant terrible, and Anish Kapoor, the controversial King of Versailles, the 2015 Contemporary Art Market report provides an absolutely unique perspective .
The Report examines the market's major macroscopic trends and follows the price evolutions of some of today's most sought-after Contemporary artists. Our price analysis techniques demonstrate the efficacy of using our price index tools.
New York and London soar while France plunges
Global Contemporary art auction turnover decreased -12% in the 2014/15 period versus the previous 12-month period. However, this contraction was mainly due to a sharp adjustment of the Chinese Contemporary art market (-37%) which lost its leading position on the global Contemporary art market to the USA. This was due to several concomitant factors, first and foremost of which was the drastic anti-corruption drive initiated by President Xi Jinping that has momentarily paralyzed the luxury goods sectors and the Chinese Art Market. In the absence of strict legal definitions for these anti-corruption measures, China's rich have temporarily suspended extravagant purchases. The country's auction rooms have posted a sharp decrease in million-dollar auction results: 170 in H1 2015 versus 286 in H1 2014.
Jumping into the breach, the US market seems to have picked up the baton with a rare level of dynamism.
Meanwhile, the UK has posted insolent growth of +74.7%! London, once considered the best place to buy and sell Old Masters, has become one of the bastions of Contemporary art. With total auction turnover of $410 million in twelve months, the UK is moving inexorably closer to China's total of $542 million and even the US's total of $650 million.
These top three countries alone account for 91% of the global Contemporary art market, while France accounts for just 2% ($36 million) and Germany only 1% ($18 million)!
Painting remains the preferred medium for collectors, accounting for 61% of auction turnover, while drawing and sculpture retain a substantial share of the market. The other mediums like photography and video still have relatively minor shares.
While the news is constantly full of new records being set by the major auctioneers, this 2015 report underscores the accessibility of the Contemporary Art Market for more restricted budgets. In reality, 80% of the lots sold, i.e. four out of five, fetch less than $15,000, and half the works generate results below $2,230. Thus behind its headline façade, the Contemporary art market is in fact accessible to a wide range of budgets and exorbitant prices only represent a tiny proportion of its transactions: out of the 55,400 sold, only 14 Contemporary works fetched more than $10 million.
Investing in Contemporary art
Although more heavily impacted by market fluctuations, Contemporary art is in fact a better long-term financial investment than the rest of the Art Market. Over the last 10 years, the Contemporary art price index has gained nearly 37%, while the index for the overall art market has posted very weak growth.
In 15 years, the Contemporary art market has posted growth of 1,800%, from $93 million in 2000/01 to $1.76 billion in 2014/15. Once a marginal phenomenon, Contemporary art is today the main driver of the entire Art Market!
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