Fine Art Brokers hope that all our friends, clients, colleagues and peers in the trade stay well and healthy. As art market professionals, we have been approached by numerous collectors over the last month for advice and opinion on the effect of the global Covid-19 crisis on the art market. Here we outline our initial thoughts, although all of our experts in New York and London are happy to speak in more depth to collectors and consignors on a one-to-one basis.
Jean-Paul Riopelle developed his mature style in the early 1950s: tessellated canvases that unfold like constellations, their heavy impasto applied with a palette knife directly from the tube of paint. Living in Paris and exhibiting worldwide, including at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and with Pierre Matisse Gallery from 1953–89 – which was owned by the son of Henri Matisse and promoted the European avant-garde in the US – Riopelle became the most internationally acclaimed Canadian artist of his generation. This holds still more true today, with prices for the artist’s work reaching unprecedented heights.
There have never been more opportunities to buy fine art and be well informed, given the extraordinary range of art fairs, auctions, dealers and galleries - all accessible in person and online, as well as the increasingly informative online art platforms. What to choose is the problem.
Global auction sales provide a barometer for how the art market is performing. During 2017 we experienced a rise in world auction sales, following a steep decline during 2016, when the US and UK auction sales markets dropped in terms of sales. Much of this drop in sales revenue during 2016, as recorded by a fall in volume, can be attributed to a shift in sales to the dealer market.
What have we learnt from the recent auctions in New York and the main art fairs - Spring Masters, Frieze and Art New York? In short, we have learnt that there is still excellent demand for good quality works of art but a lack of available masterpieces and top quality works in general resulted in much lower sales totals than May 2015.
Boom years in any market are usually characterised by rapid price rises by particular artists or groups. For what is classified ‘Modern British Art’, which is broadly speaking art executed in a modern and progressive style between 1900 and 1980, the Scottish Colourists and the Newlyn School defined the boom years of the late 1980s and in the 2000-2008 period Post-War Abstraction, particularly St Ives artists, became highly collectable.