ANTHONY SMITH takes a speculative look into the year ahead in the art world
Our expert looks ahead to 2018
FIRSTLY, wishes for a healthy and happy 2018. A new year is like a blank canvas. The first marks of a pencil or the first splash of colour is just about to be applied, but the eventual outcome is as yet unknown.
For our New Year chat, I’d like to look at what may be ahead in the art market over the next 12 months and beyond.
No-one can tell (well, perhaps some can) but we can make some predictions and enjoy seeing if they come to fruition.
The art world is very much influenced by fashion and trends. Artists often move from being fashionable and collectable to drifting from the mind, never to resurface in any meaningful way, while others are rediscovered at a later date. It’s a harsh assessment, but sadly, it's true.
Last November, a Leonardo DaVinci sold for £340 million in New York. I don’t believe this will be that last mega-sale in this current cycle, although it is likely to remain the most expensive artwork sold for decades. Be prepared for at least one more to come out of nowhere; perhaps an unseen work by a contemporary master or rediscovered work by an old master. There is possibly one last record-breaking sale to come before the high-end market corrects. At these levels, art becomes a commodity; tradeable, sometimes used as security and often seen as a trophy.
Developments in giclée technology and 3D printing will continue at a rapid rate. Just before Christmas I saw two giclées that, apart from their size, were nearly indistinguishable from the originals. The impasto (visible brushstrokes) on the surface was nigh on perfect.
The technology is developing and one must be cautious when buying any work to ensure that it is as described.
The south east Asian and south Asian art market will continue to grow, not just in monetary value but also in importance. Demographics alone will ensure that this market remains strong and becomes even stronger. From my perspective, the quality of some artists’ work is extraordinary and fundamentally undervalued on so many levels... but not for much longer.
I expect Chinese art to plateau due to issues with the Chinese economy. However I expect Hong Kong to continue to grow in importance as an art market/ auction hub with more emphasis being placed on SE Asian art.
With nationalism on the rise around the world, expect the same momentum to have some impact and influence in the art world. I have noticed a rise of interest in Australian, South African, Canadian and Indonesian works and have little doubt that similar things are happening in many markets I just don’t follow. However, I do believe that our art here in the UK is on the most part very conservatively valued when considering the quality, influence and the size of the market. With the current level of our currency, this makes the UK art market appear a bargain. This has certainly gained my attention as I see some wonderful buys when looking at works from periods that are currently out of favour.
I feel that we will see a return to the appreciation of traditional skills in painting and sculpture where quality is paramount. Traditional works will start to be reassessed and return to popularity. Also, don’t be surprised to see a large international auction house run into financial difficulty.
So with all this in mind, enjoy the art world in 2018!
“Technology is developing and one must be cautious when buying any work to ensure that it is as described”
Simao Huang: The Thinker, oil on canvas
Douglas Stewart: Brigitte, oil on canvas