Monday, November 10, 2008

Downturns in the art market

OH, there are times when I really want a big bank account. This stunning David Park is coming up for sale at Bonham's (image from their website). In fact, the whole auction catalogue is full of superb examples of California art. If I had the money, now would be the time to buy all sorts of art, not just the works in this catalogue. I'd stay away from Contemporary Chinese art which has been oversold (IMHO) and I would certainly stay away from the current overpriced "stars" of the art world like Koons, Hirst and Schnabel. But that sure leaves a lot of bargains to be picked up although I don't recommend stiffing any artist over price. Most of us - outside certain elite circles - already have rock-bottom prices.

Richard LeCayo of "Time On Line" blog points to an article at Bloomberg which details some of the corrections in the formerly hot art market. A recent auction at Sotheby's failed to sell a third of its Impressionist and modern art and the works that did sell, sold at lower rates than hoped. I'll be very curious to see if the art at Bonham's auction sells for the asking price or if the prices go down, how low will they go.

Unfortunately, the prices falling at the high end of the market will mean that lower-priced (and living artists) will see their prices fall as well. Given the downturn, I would not be surprised to see a lot of small galleries close too. I'm not sorry to see some of the high flyers get taken down a peg or two but they will probably survive while many, less well known artists will be hanging onto that day job for dear life.

Sale 16127 - Made in California, 18 Nov 2008
San Francisco and Los Angeles
Lot No: 1045
David Park (American, 1911-1960)
Girl with Earring, c. 1943
oil on masonite
15 x 15in (38 x 38cm)
Estimate: $50,000 - 75,000

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