What Art Buyers Want – artmarketblog.com
Looking back to the time of the great classical master painters it is quite obvious that the focus of the art market at that time was the actual finished product. Technical skill, realistic depiction and an appropriate subject were the order of the day for greats such as Da Vinci and Rembrandt who were originally considered to more akin to tradesman who were just doing the job that they were paid to do, the same as every other worker. Just like the trade apprentices of the modern world, Master artists of the classical age of painting often took on apprentices, the best of whom would be given the opportunity to actually assist the Master with important commissioned paintings. The fact that the artist’s clients weren’t really concerned if the painting they commissioned was worked on by people other than the Master artist is testament to the comparative lack of significance put on the actual artist and the creative process. Even more telling was the lack of control that the artist had over their work with the patron (client) who commissioned the artist to produce a work being in control of what the artist painted and how much would be spent on the materials and the artist’s time.
To look at the current contemporary art market compared to the classical art market is like looking at a parallel universe because of the shift in focus and the evolution of the role of the artist. The status of the artist in the contemporary art world has continued to increase to the point where the artist is often the focus and not the work they produce. Quite often the concept of the artwork and the creative process involved in coming up with the idea, and producing a physical representation of that idea, are of greater significance than the resulting object. In a way the artist and the object have become one with each being an extension of the other and vice versa. Because the artist has become such an integral part of the object, their way of life, personality, social life, beliefs, practices, behavior and approach have become important factors in determining the success of that artist.
I see so many galleries that just stick pictures on walls and expect people to want to buy and wonder why they don’t sell anything. Most contemporary art collectors and art buyers these days are not just expecting to purchase an artwork but are expecting to be purchasing a whole art world experience that essentially allows the buyer to experience the excitement and adventure of the career of a popular young contemporary artist vicariously through the artwork they have purchased. For a contemporary art gallery so be successful they need to allow their clients to experience the artists and their practices through workshops, studio visits, talks, demonstrations etc. I know that I am far more likely to purchase an artwork if I have had a prior interaction with the artist, how about you??
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.