LONDON CONTEMPORARY ART MARKET EDUCATION
Art Radar brings you the third installment of our coverage of the ArtInsight seminar series, “An Insider’s Guide to the Art Market”. The final lecture, which took place in late March 2011, focussed on “developments in the emerging art markets,” namely Russia, Africa and Brazil. We include below information from the lecture and follow ups with the speakers, and from our own research.
The speakers participating in Developments in the Emerging Art Markets: A Global Overview included:
- Anders Petterson, Managing Director, ArtTactic
- Jeffrey Boloten, Managing Director, ArtInsight
- Paul Hewitt, International Business Development Director, Christie’s
- William MacDougall, Founder, MacDougall’s Fine Art Auctions (Russia)
- Maria Do Mar Guinle, Art Consultant & Independent Curator (Brazil)
- Ed Cross, Managing Director, Ed Cross Fine Art Ltd (Africa)
“By 2005, Christie’s was operating simultaneously in five so-called emerging markets: Brazil, Russia, India, China and the Middle East. Over the years,… these markets have matured into ‘growth markets.’ Since then, new emerging markets have risen to international awareness – for example, Africa and Turkey – and are playing today a much more important role in the global art scene.”
Strong government cultural support crucial for art development
Government initiatives supporting the development of the arts in West Asia have provided “a sense of nationalism.” In contrast, Anders Petterson of ArtTactic suggested that there is a considerable lack of state funding for art infrastructure in India and Russia. Stable infrastructure is crucial for art development, and gallerist Ed Cross predicted that the African art market will start to see growth in the next few years alongside improvements in infrastructure due to the exploration of oil and gas reserves in Africa.
In 2009, Nafas Art Magazine reported the emergence of government-sponsored initiatives throughout West Asia, particularly in the cities of Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi.
For example, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority was launched in March 2008 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Since rebranded as “Dubai Culture” the authority has “dedicated itself to leading a renaissance of the cultural scene in Dubai and making it a vibrant hub of culture, arts and heritage.”
Abu Dhabi Authority of Cultural Heritage (ADACH) aims to develop the local art scene and can be seen as another example of increasing government support in the region.
“Open[ing] a range of new museums in the next five years, including a Bedouin museum, an ethnographic museum, and the large-scale development of the Qasr al Hosn historic area of central Abu Dhabi. By making such unique collections open and available to the world.”
Russian billionaire buyers dominate auction market
William MacDougall is the founder of MacDougall’s Fine Art Auctions which specialises in Russian art. Russia was not immune from the economic crisis in 2008 but since then the Russian market has been on a path to recovery and MacDougall is “optimistic for continued growth in June “ as “unique Russian works are reaching new records.”
Paul Hewitt explained that Russian buyers have “surplus money” and that US and UK buyers cannot keep up with these collectors when it comes to bidding at auction. Moscow currently has seventy-nine billionaires, many choosing to invest in Russian art as it is:
Transportable wealth [as] paintings do not default and always have value…. During the crisis, stocks fell seventy percent, property fell fifty percent and art fell thirty-five percent…. Retail share of the auction market has also grown as collectors buy Russian art for private museums as well as homes.
Collectors not buying Russian contemporary
As with any other category, buyers are looking for exceptional pieces, which are fresh to the market. Pieces with outstanding and interesting provenance are also very sought-after,… i.e. they have not appeared at auction for many years or even decades. Collectors remain focussed on top artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries. As yet there is limited support for works by contemporary Russian artists.
MacDougall further identified “signs of growth in Russian contemporary, Soviet Realism and Émigré art.”
London Russian auction market centre
According to Paul Hewitt, there are four main centres outside Russia that stage regular sales of the country’s art, including London, New York, Paris and Geneva.
Christie’s has concentrated its sales around two of these centres, New York, and predominately London, with two sales per year [December and June]. Around these sales, the Russian art community has created the Russian Art Week in London and in New York, incorporating sales by all major auction houses, numerous gallery openings, lectures and discussions. This enables clients to view all offerings in a short space of time and in one geographical space.
It’s “very common for a Muscovite to sell in London to a Muscovite due to tax regulations. … Specialist auction sales of Russian and FSU (Former Soviet Union) paintings during the two London Russian Weeks in 2010 realised revenue of £104m worldwide. … The UK held two-thirds of the market share with ninety-percent of buyers from Moscow and Kiev.”
“Moving Art: A guide to the export and import of cultural goods between Russia and the European Union” clarifies that exported Russian cultural goods over fifty years old are charged at ten percent of their value and goods under fifty years old are at charged five percent of their value. The goods are then examined by experts resulting in additional charges for professional service.
Brazil scene is “truly booming”
Brazil and Africa were also covered. Brazilian contemporary artists are increasingly being included in international auction sales like those held by Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Philips de Pury. In February 2011, Brazilian contemporary artist Adriana Varejão fetched a hammer price above one million, instilling confidence in the Brazilian art market.
Speaker Maria Do Mar Guinle, an art consultant for Art + Advisory and an independent curator, described the Brazilian domestic scene as “truly booming” with the emergence of “new buyers from other parts of Brazil, beyond the traditional Rio-Sao Paulo axis.” However, it remains a “protected market,” restricted from globalising due to a large tax burden (on the importation of art) that far exceeds that of other countries.
When we followed up with Guinle she said,
I think the first change I have noticed in the last two years, is the increased interest from international collectors, from small-scale private collectors to museums and institutions. The Tate, Pompidou, and the LVMH Foundation are all buying Brazilian art! There is a stronger presence of Brazilian artists at international fairs and gallery and museum shows. If one goes to Basel or Frieze, one will come across a series of international as well as Brazilian blue-chip galleries, such as Galeria Vermelho and Galeria Millan, showing a wide-range of Brazilian contemporary artists.
Interest in African art growing
African art is beginning to appear on the international art market, evidenced by the “Africa Now“ auction at Bonhams in London on 16 March (2011) and the AFRICA auction at Phillips de Pury in New York last May (2010). Speaker Ed Cross spent twenty years in East Africa working in art and publishing. He founded Ed Cross Fine Art Ltd in 2009, a gallery specialising in African contemporary art. He told of groups of contemporary artists forming collaborations and together creating contemporary art that is rooted in tradition.
Another example could be Ghanaian artist El Anatsui who showcased his work at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and the 2010 Dubai Art Fair, where the artist’s work In the World, but Don’t know the World? was warmly received. He creates sculptural experiments that address political, historical and social concerns.
Overseas charities work to sustain African contemporary art as government funding for the arts is non-existent. Some examples found during our own research include: The African Arts Trust, founded in 2010 by Robert Devereux, an organisation that seeks to raise global awareness of emerging African artists working on the African continent and provides them with art materials and studio space; and Fine Shona Art, an organisation that attempts to improve the quality of life for thousands of Zimbabwea Shona sculptors.
Emerging art market predictions
So which markets are set to emerge? Anders Petterson predicted Eastern Europe, Paul Hewitt predicted Africa, Maria Do Mar Guinle loyally predicted Brazil and Ed Cross predicted, also perhaps loyally, that artists from African countries Ethiopia and Kenya will start to gain attention.
The rise of Internet bidding at auctions was predicted to increase along with further globalisation of the contemporary art market, already evident in growth of art fairs internationally.
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