Towards a False Art Market Globalisation pt. 2 – artmarketblog.com

hannah hoch 2 Towards a False Art Market Globalisation pt. 2   artmarketblog.comArtprice.com has record of a total of 581 works by Hannah Hoch going to auction. Of those 581, about 97% were sold in Germany where works by Hoch appear at auction on a regular basis. What doesn’t appear in Germany are the sort of auction records that suggest frenzied and competitive bidding for works by Hoch. In fact, the auction records for works by Hoch sold in Germany are much more stable than those from outside Germany and are much more consistent with the sort of low estimates that were given to most of the estimate busting works mentioned above. Looking at the top fifteen prices paid for works by Hannach Hoch sold at auction also suggests a discrepancy with ten out of the ten fifteen prices occurring in either London or New York. Of the remaining five top fifteen prices, two were achieved in Switzerland and three in Germany. Even more compelling is the fact that out of the 581 works by Hoch sold at auction, only 34 fetched more than 10,000 euros, and only 68 fetched more than 5000 euros.

So what does all this mean? Well, to recap, very few works by Hannah Hoch appear at auction outside of Germany but works by Hoch do appear at auction in Germany quite regularly. Those that do appear at auction outside of Germany tend to end up at major auctions in either London or New York where the prices achieved tend to eclipse the given estimate as well as the prices paid for works that are sold in Germany. If the works sold in New York and London were of greater importance than those sold in Germany there would be a partial explanation for this trend, however, if the works being sold in New York and London were more important they would undoubtedly have been given higher estimates to begin with. Interestingly, though, the works that did achieve the really high prices were from the early years of Hoch’s career – around 1919-1925. This suggests that perhaps there is a different perception of Hoch’s early works in English speaking Western markets such as London and New York than in her native Germany where works from Hoch’s early years sell for relatively small sums of money.  The discrepancies, inconsistencies and trends that I have mentioned above all suggest that the art market is not as globalised as we may think – especially when it comes to notions of value.  Although information regarding the art market and access to fine art has become a much more global affair, our understanding and appreciation of the way fine art is valued is far from being globally uniform.  My question to you is: How global do you really think the art market is, and what would the definition of a “global” art market be?

See part 1 here:

http://www.artmarketblog.com/2011/03/17/towards-a-false-art-market-globalisation-pt-1-artmarketblog-com/

image:

Hannah Hoch (1889-1979)
Mechanischer Garten
signed with initials and dated ‘H.H 1920′ (lower center)
gouache, watercolor and pen and India ink on paper
28¾ x 18½ in. (73 x 47 cm.)
Painted in 1920

**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

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  • http://www.antique-appraise.com Mike wilcox

    A globalized market is already here, it’s just not track-able by traditional metrics like comparing hammer prices worldwide. There are a great many variables at work in a auction sale that can generate varying values, Eg. the comparative quality of pieces sold, what part of the artist’s working life does the painting originate from, the provenance and the venue. Last but not least, the venue and how many motivated collectors of a given artist at the sale.

    High end auction houses tend to generate greater prices because they are better advertised and tend attract clients with deeper pockets than smaller venues. A upcoming sale of a Hoch in a small regional auction hall will not get the press one at Sotheby’s would, but its sale at a depressed value compared to a similar one at Sotheby’s would still likely be recorded in a database such as liveauctioneer, artprice, or artfact.

    Another thought to consider as well is that the larger sales for the last few years have had online bidding, so now not only do they have motivated bidders with deep pocket physically attending a sale, but many also placing bids online from anywhere in the world via their web enabled phone or laptop.
    Short of actually tracking where the bid came from and listing the location of the buyer, it’s impossible to determine if a German painting’s sold in London or New York is higher because of local demand or demand from buyers worldwide who subscribe to the online catalogs.

    • admin

      I do actually agree with what you are saying Mike, but not for the reasons that you have outlined. The fact that there is such a prevalence of online bidding and online catalogues should mean that there isn’t such a discrepancy with prices regardless of where the item is sold. Online bidding and catalogues should level the playing field, but yet it hasn’t. Most collectors and investors would have access to online catalogues and bidding for almost any auction house in the world yet most choose to stick with the auction houses they are familiar with. If the art market was truly global, this would not be the case. The points you make confirm what I said in this post which is that art collectors and investors have access to the global art market yet they are not making use of it or participating in it. Just because we have the means to create a globalised art market does not mean that the art market has been globalised.

  • http://www.antique-appraise.com Mike wilcox

    I made it pretty clear why the prices were different, even though the online bidding has made it easier to bid anywhere, high profile venues by their very nature are going to generate higher bids due to clientele, expertise and advertising.

    One also has to consider shipping and insurance. If I’m going to bid on an item I’m more likely to “Buy Local”, rather than pay shipping and insurance from Hong Kong to Toronto. In some cases the cost of shipping and insurance simply makes it pointless to buy an item that requires it, versus a comparable item available in a local venue.

  • admin

    For the price paid for the Hoch works that I mentioned in my previous post at auctions in New York and London, the buyers could have bought several works from Germany AND paid the shipping costs. Anyway, serious collectors and investors are not going to be worried by the shipping costs.

    Yes, it is true that the higher profile venues will generate more interest in the works they are selling – but there are venues in Germany and other parts of Europe that are also high profile. Why do the high profile Western English speaking auction houses reach clients from other countries but the high profile “foreign” auction houses don’t? Because the art market is not really as globalised as some may think.

  • http://www.antique-appraise.com Mike wilcox

    Your title is ” Towards a False Art Market. Paintings by Hoch hardly comprises of the entire market, nor is the Art market totally comprised of ” serious collectors” to whom shipping costs and insurance is not a concern. There is also some substance to the old saying that an artist is seldom appreciated in their own country ;~).

    In regards to high profile, it depends on what you consider “High Profile”. A house like Sotheby’s which operates in 40 countries or Christie’s with rooms in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai and Hong Kong is certainly more high profile than most lesser known houses in Europe or elsewhere. For someone whose is not proficient in several languages, or does not want to handle all vagaries of the auction process, they will use houses like Sotheby’s and Christies that can cater to their needs and inability to read auction catalogs in foreign languages.

    • admin

      There are plenty of other examples of similar situations to the one I outlined with Hoch’s work that I have come across in recent times. Hoch was just a good example to use of what happens with other artists. I never suggested that the market is totally comprised of “serious collectors”; the buyers who paid the massive prices for Hoch’s works would most likely have been serious collectors and could have saved massive amounts of money if they had bought in Germany. It is true that there are many artists who are not appreciated in their own country – Monet for instance. The fact that there are so many artists who are perceived and rated differently in different countries, especially when it comes to dollar value, suggests that the art market is not yet as global as people suggest.

  • Jennifer

    The discrepancy between Hoch’s auction prices in Germany compared with the rest of the world is most likely caused by a combination of two things: differences in personal taste and availability. (With an emphasis on availability.) Because more of Hoch’s work is available in Germany, prices are driven down. The fact that her work is available to some extent in New York and London as well is a testament to the globalization trend. In contemporary art as well, less developed countries now have more artists playing larger roles in artistic movements. For example, Latin American art is rising in popularity but can still be bought at reasonable prices. See this article about Latin American Art Gaining Momentum in Europe (first article on the list).

    http://www.alternativelatininvestor.com/11/art.html

    • admin

      Thanks for the comment Jennifer. I hardly think that the fact that Hoch’s work is available to some extent in New York and London as well is a testament to the globalization trend. Globalisation has more to do with people’s perception, understanding and knowledge of global art markets and trends as opposed to the actual global availability of the works themselves.

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