Top 2010 Art Market Trends Pt. 1 –

pistoletto rags1 Top 2010 Art Market Trends Pt. 1

'Venus of the Rags' by Michelangelo Pistoletto

1. Arte Povera: The Arte Povera trend that took hold in 2010 has more to do with the concept of “Arte Povera” as opposed to the actual artists involved in the movement. The trend also extends to the work of other artists whose work embodied the concepts of Arte Povera such as Art Brut artists and naive artists. Without a doubt this has been the most dominant and most visible trend of 2010.

According to the Tate Modern website:

“The name (Arte Povera) means literally ‘poor art’ but the word poor here refers to the movement’s signature exploration of a wide range of materials beyond the quasi-precious traditional ones of oil paint on canvas, or bronze, or carved marble. Arte Povera therefore denotes not an impoverished art, but an art made without restraints, a laboratory situation in which any theoretical basis was rejected in favour of a complete openness towards materials and processes”

The glossy, blingy art that has dominated the market for years has given way to a desire for the more gritty and raw work of artists such as Lucio Fontana, Helio Oiticica, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alighiero Boetti, Piero Manzoni, Jean Dubuffet etc. The un-primed slashed canvases of Fontana, the graffiti style of Basquiat, the artist’s shit of Piero Manzoni and the unusually textured canvases of Dubuffet all represent artists who took a stand against the commercialism of the art market – a stand that collectors have taken up as they turn their back on the current commercialism of the art market.

Interestingly, the Tate Modern opened galleries dedicated to the Arte Povera movement in May 2009. According to a Tate press release “The central space of the new Energy and Process wing will be devoted to a selection of works made by artists in the 1960s and 1970s. The term Arte Povera was coined by the art critic Germano Celant to describe the activities of Italian artists who used the simplest means to create poetic statements based on everyday life. Seen as a reaction against the commercialism of the art market, the work demonstrated a keen appetite to use commonplace or ‘poor’ materials and new processes.”

2. Naive Art: The naive art trend is closely related to the Arte Povera trend with work produced by “naive” artists often resembling the work of Arte Povera artists. The work of artists who produce work in a naive style such as Basquiat, Dubuffet and Antonio Ligabue has proven to be extremely popular of late with many auction records being broken. A new auction record for Ligabue, one of the most famous 20th century naive artists, was set on the 24th of November 2010 when his ‘Autoritratto, olio su faesite’ sold for €152,000 against an estimate of €50,000-70,000.

3. Latin American Art: Although there was a general trend towards nationalistic and culturally representative art, there has been a particularly strong global increase in the popularity of Latin American art. Funnily enough, many of the artists that I associated with the concept of Arte Povera also have connections with Latin America such as Basquiat who has Haitian roots, Fontana who was born in Argentina, and Oiticica who was born in Brazil. What is also interesting is that many of the world’s most popular and influential naive artists also have a connection with Latin America.

A good example of the growing interest in the work of Latin American artists of both the past and present is the continuing success of the PINTA Latin American art fair. Although 2010 was only the fourth edition of the fair there was plenty of evidence to suggest that there is more than enough demand to support a dedicated Latin American art fair. Auction wise, 2010 saw new auction price records for many Latin American artists including: Jorge Jiminez, Helio Oiticica, Adriana Varejao, Julio Galan, Omar Rayo, Julio Le Parc, Wilfredo Lam, Alejandro Otero, Alfonso Michel and many others.

4. Sculpture: The resurgence in the interest of the work of classical style and modernist bronze sculptors, particularly those who work in metal, is somewhat of an odd and puzzling trend. There is, however, an increasing interest being shown in the work of sculptors such as Barbara Hepworth, Rembrandt Bugatti, Alberto Giacometti, August Renoir and Matisse. Christie’s set the benchmark at the beginning of 2010 when they set a new auction record for Giacometti, and a new record for a work of art sold at auction, when they sold the Alberto’s life-size bronze sculpture titled ‘L’Homme Qui Marche I’ for 65 million pounds. Proving that the Giacometti record wasn’t a fluke, Christie’s again made headlines in June when they sold Modigliani’s modernist sculpture titled ‘Tête’ for 43.2 million euros in Paris – an auction record for the artist. In November a new auction record was set for Matisse when Christie’s sold the artist’s ‘Nu de dos, 4 etat (Back IV)’ bronze sculpture for a $48.8 million. Although Christie’s appeared to dominate the metal sculpture trend, Sotheby’s also made some significant contributions with outstanding prices achieved for a range of bronze sculptures by Dame Barabara Hepworth and Rembrandt Bugatti.

5. Nationalistic Art: The beginning of the sentimental art market era, which I have written about extensively on my blog, has influenced a shift of focus towards the work of artists whom collectors can relate to on a cultural or generational level. Artists whose work is iconically representative of a particular era or culture are being pursued by collectors of that culture or era. The stark and sterile work of the contemporary art market boom combined with the faceless commercialism of the modern world is heavily responsible for what I believe to be a yearning that many art collectors and investors have to revive in themselves a sense of culture and place. As I wrote in my previous post “When art collectors or investors seek safety and familiarity they are most likely to gravitate towards works by artists from the era and culture that they have the greatest connection to. This would explain the large number of seemingly unrelated trends that emerged during 2010 many of which involved previously unfashionable styles and movements that are distinctly associated with a particular era or culture.”

 Top 2010 Art Market Trends Pt. 1**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

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