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How Has the Recession Changed the Art Market?

How Has the Recession Changed the Art Market?

Valerie Atkisson / ArtBistro

Interview with Ed Winkleman from Winkleman Gallery, Chelsea, New York. Ed Wilkleman founded Plus Ultra. It quickly became a “hot” gallery in Brooklyn. After a few years he moved the gallery to Chelsea on 27th street and changed the name to Winkleman gallery. Ed has kept an active blog about the art world and life as a gallery owner since 2005.

How has the recession changed the art market?

There is one big change. Collectors are unsure of what the work that they are thinking about purchasing is worth. For example a painting that is 36 × 48 inches that sold for $5,000 is probably still a safe bet, being reasonable by any standard. But a painting that size by an artist whose work went up in value during the bubble, up to $50,000 or $100,000, is now more of an unknown. The uncertainty of what art is worth is much more pronounced in the contemporary art market. Older works of artists from another era are more stable.

There is also one kind of collector who is active and coming back to the market. These are the mid-range collectors that were priced out of the bubble boom and now that things have settled back down, they are collecting again.

How can artists survive and thrive during this recession?

Artists should look at this time as an opportunity to play with some new ideas or consider some experimentation. Since artists don’t have to produce on demand for the next art fair as much, now is the time to master the new media that you have been thinking about or play with scale so that when the economy does turn around you will be ready to jump in with new work that you are excited about. Now is time to work on a project that you always wanted to do.

I have been told that a slump in the art market is a good time for new artists with less exposure to get in. Since the galleries are not selling out shows anyway, a gallery may take a risk on a new artist. Is this true?

I would say that conventional wisdom does not support that statement and that the opposite is true. A boom market is better for unknown artists because galleries are more willing to take risks. As the market cools there are experienced artists whose galleries fail. Those artists who have a more established careers are now looking for a galleries. If I had a slot open I would take an artists who had a reputation, many museum shows and collectors over an unknown artist. If there weren’t any experienced artists looking for a gallery, then I would consider showing a new artist.


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