Editorial: Economies of Art & Scale
It was pretty much spot on 2 months ago that Damien Hirst broke all sorts of records in amassing over USD200 million over 2 days auctions at Sotheby’s. I’ve been asked a lot lately whether or not I can see any obvious signs of the art world being affected by the world’s economic situation, the answer would have to be no more than any other luxury item has been affected. Karl Lagerfeld launched his new, and not to mention excessive, window display yesterday at Paris’ Printemps, in a rare interview, Lagerfeld was asked of his opinion on how the worlds financial troubles may affect the fashion world, he was quick to push upon us a thought that quality and namesake will prevail, those who suffer, merely don’t deserve to sit amongst those who survive. You could say the same for the Art World, buyers financial hardships merely narrows the scope and reach of the market, meaning the best will not be affected, the downturn will simply knock out any pretenders. This poses two questions… Can Art really be measured by such means, and secondly if it is by some measure, which if the hypotheses is true, it must, then who will survive?
Contemporary Art is in a growth stage in terms of the traditional art world taking hold of a new genre of artists, of whom many, coincidentally believe in the accessability of art. Consider a new generation of artists void of institutional art educations and mindsets, having being inspired by Pop Art’s revolution of the 80’s and the likes of Haring and others who went out of their way to see their work spread and available to anyone. This is what the new generation of artists hold as their strength above the traditional art world. The ability to sell their art on tee shirts, or vinyl figures, to promise value in a silkscreen or print, and be generally aware and educated of how to make their name and work, work for them.
Even Damien Hirst offers hints of a reaction to the ‘recession’, it wasn’t that long ago, that infamous Diamond encrusted Skull went under the hammer, this week he released a limited edition run of sculptured skulls for just 50,000 pounds each, potentially a sign, that the artist who’s art is considered by many his sales, has considered his market demographic’s new financial situation, and merely spread his potential revenue thinner but not lower.
Would it still be possible for Hirst to achieve what he did at Sotheby’s 2 months ago today? Christie’s Contemporary Art Auction last week proves that times have changed, even in the last 2 months. An auction registry that included works by some of the biggest names in Contemporary Art, Basquiat, Bacon, Prince, Murakami, Richter and more. With an estimated revenue from the night of USD227m, with a number of rare works on offer, it seemed as though a fair result was inevitable, but the resulting USD113m shows just how hard those in a position to buy such works have been hit, or is it just that the money game is held by Hirst?
In the world we see and review daily here at SLAMXHYPE, the economy and its affects flow throughout, there are suggestions though, that typically in tough times, some smaller luxury items infact increase sales, hey if you can’t buy a house, you don’t have a mortgage, so I guess you can afford those new Givenchy Shoes right!