ANTHONY SMITH takes a spec­u­la­tive look into the year ahead in the art world

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

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

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