Art Boom or Art Gloom: Art Market Reporters Indecisive – artmarketblog.com
I have written quite a few posts recently about the Australian art market due mostly to the fact that the art market reporters for the major newspapers here in Australia seem more concerned in attracting attention to their stories than accurate analysis of the art market. One thing that annoys me more than anything else is journalists and critics that make premature and sensationalist claims that are not only often prove to be incorrect but can be damaging to the art market. If there are indications that the art market is experiencing a decline in the rate of grown then I have no problem with this being reported as long as it is done so responsibly, accurately and truthfully.
The main issues with many of the art market reporters and journalists are their tendency to:
1. report in a style that is more focused on entertainment value
2. make assumptions based on a narrow range of data
3. make premature forecasts
5. make judgements based on second or third hand information
As an example, on the 19th of August an article published on the Bloomberg news website titled “Australia’s Art Market Draws New Collectors After Minerals Boom” said:
“The 11th Melbourne Art Fair, which ended this month, showed how vibrant Australia’s art market has become, fueled by ranks of new collectors after a six-year commodities boom in the country.
About 30,000 people viewed more than 3,000 contemporary artworks, many of them by the country’s indigenous painters. The biennial event in the World Heritage building had a record $11 million sales, a 16 percent increase on 2006. The total compares with $10 million at this year’s annual art fair in Tokyo, a city 10 times the size.“
Then, on the 26th of August, an article appeared in The Australian Newspaper titled “Now Art Reflects Strife in the Economy” which mentioned that:
“The nation’s (Australia’s) economic wobbles finally hit the art market last night when several major paintings failed to sell at Sotheby’s Melbourne auction, including an important Tasmanian landscape by early 19th-century artist John Glover.”
Did the Australian art market go from being boosted by new collectors to suffering from Australia’s economic strife in a matter of just two weeks? I don’t think so. What did happen was that the state of the whole Australian art market was judged based on one particular event and one sector of the market. Just because the Melbourne Art Fair was a success doesn’t mean that Australian art market is doing well just as the disappointing art auction results don’t indicate that the Australian art market is in decline. To accurately assess the impact or effects of a result or an event, each result and event needs to be put into context with what is happening in the art market as a whole, not just the one sector.
The art market reporters and journalists are not entirely to blame for the inconsistencies as they have deadlines and readership expectations but in the interests of accuracy and consistency I think that changes need to be made.
**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