Published on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
What is the state of the art market today? How much has it been affected by the crisis in this area?
Take a beautiful sunny day, many young people and a great desire to talk about art. What do you get? The Festival of Contemporary Art in Faenza, which opened its doors Friday with a meeting attended by Pierluigi Sacco (creator and founder of the event with Alberto Masacci), Angela Vettese and Carlos Basualdo (members of the scientific direction). More than 120 players from the national and international art scene confronted one another on the theme of the Forms of Clientelism, one that includes many different issues: the relationship between public and private sectors, the role of institutions in the contemporary scene, collecting, and the relationship between artist and owner. In late afternoon the subject, instead, was market dynamics and cultural promotion through the example of the art fairs. The occasion could certainly not happen without Silvia Evangelisti, director of Arte Fiera in Bologna, Jennifer Flay, director of FIAC Paris, Amanda Coulson, director of Volta in Basel and New York and Francesco Manacorda, the new director of Artissima, expertly coordinated with the interventions of the Spanish critic Paco Barragan. In the crowded hall of the ISI, the four speakers briefly explained to the public the strengths (and also weaknesses) of each exhibit/market, a phenomenon that must be understood as a center for experimentation and dissemination of new ideas, but also (and this is the true novelty with respect to older fairs) production of cultural events. But let’s hear now from Silvia Evangelisti …
The crisis has touched every field and certainly the artistic one. The international market is apparently recovering, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, however, where the crisis arrived earlier.
It exploded in America in 2008 (the images of the employees of Lehman Brothers who leave their offices with their bags in hand are emblematic), while for us it arrived later; in fact 2009 was on balance quite favorable for the Italian art market. It is a sort of long wave from which we are still suffering, especially the galleries of the artists who must continue to invest even though they sell less. Of course, we’re not talking about a crash like the one that happened in the '90s, when Christie's announced a drop in sales of 50%. Our crisis is more measured. The collectors are much more savvy in buying, the market is quieter, but it seems there are some signs of recovery.
What do you think of the continual blossoming of contemporary art fairs in Italy?
It is a phenomenon that I think could create more confusion than help the system. First, there are a large number of fairs, so many that even if the professional collectors are unable to see more than half. And the market has its own
rules that must be met, so a continuous increase of the offering doesn’t add value to the sector ...
Who are the main patrons of art today?
In past times there was a strong patronage from the Church and aristocracy, then in the 1900s the totalitarian regimes created many works of art to show their strength and power. Today we tend to give much attention to public art that is finally attracting the interest of the institutions. Private clients also remain strong.
What is your advice to young people who are about to begin collecting contemporary art?
Firstly, I’d recommend they be well informed, and by that I mean that it would be useful to visit many museums or galleries in order to educate the eye to art. Just by looking at several exhibitions you can see which artist you like, which speaks to you more than another. Then maybe it's just a choice of decor ... Even a trip to the fair would be useful, as you can see and compare many things directly, asking yourself what is the work that most closely matches your taste. Then follow your instinct, but always in the light of information. Also after the acquisition continue to follow the story of that artist and, if it is a young artist, it is fun to see if he or she was invited to a major exhibition such as the Biennale, and with which other artists he or she exhibits. In short, it is also personal satisfaction. Choosing a young artist is by necessity a bet, and one that becomes attractive if it is made together with the artist.