Market United Kingdom

Is the global art market a myth?

The academic Olav Velthuis argues that the business of art isn’t as international as it seems

Local not global: Edward Hopper’s East Wind Over Weehawken sold for $40.5m at Christie’s sale of American Art in New York on 5 December

The American artist Edward Hopper has never sold at auction outside the United States—so said the writer and academic Olav Velthuis at a lecture at the Courtauld Institute this week to illustrate what he calls the “myth” of a global art market.

While his statement isn’t quite true (five of Hopper’s 402 works offered at auction have sold outside the US, according to Artnet), it is certainly a strikingly small proportion in what we are often told is an international scene.

Velthuis was presenting his preliminary research into the art markets in Brazil, Russia, India and China where he has found that the majority of businesses are organised “extremely locally”, despite aspiring to the borderless ideals of international artists who command global demand—which he said has been “vastly exaggerated”.

He acknowledged the “small top segment” of private-jet setters who operate in a global art world—but said that this area is covered disproportionately through both the media and academia, thus fuelling the myth. Sitting in the audience was the Courtauld Institute’s professor, Julian Stallabrass, who was quick to point out that this top segment may be small, but accounts for a significant proportion of the art business.

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28 Apr 14
16:1 CET


Over at the Glasstire Texas website (and Youtube) the art critic/teacher Dave Hickey says he has quit this "global" and epigone `Bling Wing` extension to the artmarket and art education business. There is no longer an In even to pretend to be in. There`s talking trash and spending cash but no in-crowd. Welcome to the `global` Bling Wing in the UK,Russia,China,Arabia etc. Professor Stallabrass is hired as apologist and ideologist for this new dystopia? Pussy Riot and Femen are truly international artists. So is Akiane Kramarik. Not all rich collectors and curators self-exile themselves in the Bling Wing of post-modernism. `Globalising` the new Uruguay is a good idea. The people have moved their country into the 21st century. Most of the super-power countries are stuck in their 20th centuries (or earlier)

25 Apr 14
19:4 CET


He's right. I can't think of one painting by Jenny Saville or one sculpture by Marc Quinn that has ever sold in Ireland either. Equally very little American art is sold in Ireland. A lot of the talk of an international market is pushed to suggest that particular artists or art is of global significance/relevance when that plainly isn't the case. Such marketing does help to increase their prices however.

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