Even today, contemporary art is confirmed as a dynamic and ever-growing market: this is confirmed by the data relating to the main annual sector reports, including that of Artprice, the world leader in this market.
Therefore, in this article, let’s analyze the main data highlighted in the Artprice 2022 Report, as well as on other sector sites and magazines and, of course, based on our experience in the field.
General trend of the contemporary art market in 2022
According to Artprice, in the period 2021/22, the global turnover of contemporary art auctions was 2.7 billion dollars. The works of contemporary art sold from July 2021 to June 2022 were around 120 thousand, with an increase of +12% compared to the previous year and ten times more than in the previous two decades.
Even as regards the gallery sector, which is the one that interests us most closely, although the aggregate data is not available since it concerns private institutions, we can say that there has been, in the last two years, a strong ferment on the side of sales, dictated not only by the appearance of new trends but also and above all by the appearance on the market of an audience of new interested customers.
According to the Art Basel 2021 Art Market Report, for example, in the months immediately following the end of the pandemic there was a substantial recovery in sales, linked above all to the growth of online transactions and the promotion of new exhibitions and live events.
These data that we have just seen obviously account for a great dynamism in the sector, especially as regards the sale of Medium Fine Art, i.e. paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, prints, videos, installations, tapestries and so on.
On the contrary, the NFT sector, also defined as crypto art, i.e. real or digitized works of art equipped with an identification code encoded on the Blockchain, following the growth in interest in previous years, has recorded a sharp contraction in the last 12 months (for a specific article related to NFT art, you can click here).
Furthermore, again taking into account the period 2021/2022, there has been an increase in turnover especially with regard to the ultra-contemporary art market (artists born under 40).
The growth of this sub-segment alone accounts for a large part of the main transformation trends of the art market as a whole (including the growth in importance of women artists, street art and African artists) being also one of the reasons behind the development of new markets such as those of Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul.
Main markets for the sale of contemporary art in 2022
Despite the growth of new markets such as those in Asia, New York alone achieved about 38% of the global turnover of contemporary art sales; thanks to this historic performance, the United States has recovered the status of “leading market” for contemporary art auctions, again overtaking China which instead takes second place.
The United Kingdom is also keeping pace, currently in third place with its $486 million representing 18% of global contemporary art auction turnover, thus consolidating its lead over France which accounts for only 3% of global turnover in this segment. Followed at some distance by Germany, Italy, among the top 15 countries in the ranking for sales of contemporary art, and Switzerland, the latter nation which is developing as one of the most important markets for contemporary art in the heart of the Old Continent.
However, a further trend to be analyzed is that of the growth of new markets, above all in Asia: among these, China and South Korea stand out, in particular the latter, where sales in recent months have reached 66 million dollars, equaling even the performance of more consolidated markets such as France.
Ultra-contemporary art and artists under 40
The contemporary art market is, by its nature, multifaceted and full of surprises.
Until recently, for example, an artist’s price level was something that evolved over time; today, however, some young artists reach extraordinarily high price levels early in their careers, very quickly rising from a few thousand to several million dollars.
The origin of this phenomenon, visible since the early 2000s, but recently accelerating, seems to date back to the story of a sculpture by Jeff KOONS entitled “Mickael Jackson and Bubbles” sold for 6 million dollars at Sotheby’s in 2001.
At the time, this was an absolutely exorbitant price for a mid-career artist and this gave way to increasingly glib assessments of the creations of younger and still little-known artists.
As part of the ultra-contemporary art trend on the subject, also The Strip Gallery follows, with passion and interest, extremely promising and particularly talented artists, including JISBAR, alias Jean-Baptiste Launay, born in 1989 and today one of the leading figures of his generation in the world of pop-street art, or the by now very successful KAWS, stage name of Brian Donnelly (born in 1974), an American artist and designer whose works are now exhibited in museums and galleries around the world.
Also interesting is the work of the very young digital designer and illustrator César PELIZER, born in Brazil in 1988, who now lives and works permanently in London. His works represent new worlds to be explored!
Women and contemporary art
Another trend of great interest in the world of contemporary art concerns the growth in importance of women artists. After decades of under-representation of women, today an increasing number of female artists are, in fact, successfully pursuing a distinguished career in the contemporary art world.
The results of this trend are so strong that this year as never before we are witnessing a real paradigm shift: for the first time in the history of contemporary art, women artists have generated higher turnover to that of men and the prices of some of their works have reached price levels often even higher than those fetched for their male counterparts!
The data we have just highlighted show very clearly how the contemporary art market is experiencing truly unstoppable growth.
In addition to the traditionally established “squares” such as those of New York and London, today new markets are also appearing on the scene, such as the Korean and Chinese markets, which contribute to making the sector extremely dynamic.
The appearance of new markets, together with the growth of interest in new forms of art, has also led to a growth in demand for ultra-contemporary art (i.e. works created by artists under the age of 40) and above all the increase in prices of the works of some young artists.
Among the most popular emerging artists, the number of women is also growing, whose visibility, until recently partially obscured by that of men, is now also supported by the most important auction houses and galleries.