The Recession’s Silver Lining: Art Quality & Availability Improve

03Mar09

Previously published on Decorati.com

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David Wojnarowicz’s photograph from his 1977-79 series “Rimbaud in New York,” captures the current art market climate

By Emily Waldorf

Art and antiques magazines are getting thinner, auction houses and galleries are laying off employees, and art prices are slowly but surely coming down. The art market has officially entered a recession like the rest of the U.S. economy. As we learned in Decorati founder Shane Reilly’s article in Forbes, “High-End Décor on a Low-End Budget,” even the wealthiest clients are scaling back their decorating projects and this, of course, translates into cutting funds previously allocated for art collecting. While this may seem like a catastrophe for the aesthetic-minded, the burst of the art market bubble is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it has a silver lining.

The inflated prices of recent years have been long overdue for a correction and the market is turning in favor of serious collectors with an eye towards quality and value. It has never been a better time to encourage clients to invest in art since sellers are increasingly distressed and many works that would have never been available a year ago are popping up for private sale at incredible prices. It is a buyer’s market and a wonderful time to check in on that piece you have been lusting after, chances are the dealer is willing to bargain with you now.

The age of conspicuous consumption of shocking conceptual art such as Damien Hirst’s “Golden Calf” that sold for $18.6 million last year, is most likely over

The age of conspicuous consumption of shocking conceptual art such as Damien Hirst’s “Golden Calf” that sold for $18.6 million last year, is most likely over

Holland Cotter wrote a telling article in The New York Times, entitled “The Boom is Over.  Long Live the Art!” explaining how the quality of art gets better in bad economic times.  He points to the economic roller coaster of the early 1970’s and late 80’s, arguing that some of the best art of the 20th century was produced during those tough times in contrast to the overhyped, overpriced art of the recent art market bubble.

Hopefully, as our economy slowly rebuilds itself, so too will the art market with an eye towards sustainable quality and value.  In fact the economic stimulus bill contains $50 million in funding for the arts to be distributed by the National Endowment for the Arts.  In the meantime, I would advise those thinking about starting an art collection to seriously consider taking advantage of the current buyer’s market.  Furnishings need to be refreshed every decade or so but art is forever.

You don’t want to overpay for contemporary art like the satirical figure in Eugenio Merino’s Damien Hirst spoof, “For the Love of Gold”

You don’t want to overpay for contemporary art like the satirical figure in Eugenio Merino’s Damien Hirst spoof, “For the Love of Gold”

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One Response to “The Recession’s Silver Lining: Art Quality & Availability Improve”

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