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The ‘GFC’ and art

By March 11, 20101

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, apologies all round.

There’s barely anyone in the developed world who has not been affected in some way by the so called ‘GFC’ or global financial crisis.

Australia seems to have weathered the storm better than most countries, particularly the US and Europe. Many industries and sectors of commerce are particularly hard hit in recessionary times, one of those is almost always the art market. This is to be expected, as art is not only an intrinsic item, it is also a commodity which has value both in terms of investment and of social importance.

As with all commodities, prices of art and the social standing of works rise and fall. Not unlike equity markets, certain artists and artworks have ‘runs’ on their prices. Alternately some also fall out of favour and demand. But almost all the art world is affected by recessionary forces. I guess this all boils down to the fact that art is ultimately a ‘luxury’ item, ie something which is superfluous to ones everyday needs. You can’t eat a painting, it won’t put your kids through college, it won’t pay the electricity bill!

The last year has seen some long standing Australian galleries fold up and close. A couple of these were galleries I dealt with and will be sadly missed. Almost all the gallery directors I have spoken with are doing it tough, but there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. Inquiries have picked up and sales once again coming through. Tough times create tough people and I believe the galleries that survive and thrive will be all the better for it. Perhaps the ones that¬† were ‘weeded’ out along the way is a good thing of sorts, the wheat and the chaff thing!

I firmly believe that the days of the warehouse sized gallery spaces, with 6 feet between each hanging work and a dour looking managers sitting behind a computer intently ignoring all that walk through the door, are numbered.  These will go the way of the Dinosaurs, making way for a new generation of private galleries. The future in my opinion, is of greater importance placed on information technology, web based promotions and social networking between galleries and clients and clients and artists. Those who actively seek new mediums of promotion and exhibition will prosper in my opinion, so viva the revolution!