The art world has very few examples of transparency about transactions and dealings. With many items being bought by private collectors, it is almost impossible to know the buyer of a certain work especially if this transaction happened in a gallery. The primary source for all art information comes from the auction houses that publish every sale with price as well as information concerning the work. Other than the auction house, the second place to look for market valuators as well as current popular taste, one should focus on the art fair. It is hard to know the value of contemporary art because there is no history. How would one be able to say with confidence that something will last forever when there is hardly any proof? One way to balance this uncertainty of the contemporary market is to visit fairs and see what galleries are displaying, what people are buying, and sometimes most importantly, what people are not buying.
This past weekend saw the start to New York’s unofficial “Art Week”. Running from March 4th – 6th, The Armory Show, put on by the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), has wrapped up its 23rd year. 31 countries were represented in the 274 contemporary and modern galleries that took part in this event.
As a valuator, the Armory Fair can be studied to look at what the top galleries in the world are selling as their finest pieces as well as comparable prices. For a collector,the art fair scene is a great help! For if a prominent gallery is showing the same artist a collector picked up in the last few years it is a good sign that this artist is gaining popularity as well as status in the art world. This could then hopefully lead to the increased value of the piece that is already with the private collector.
This year prices seem to be lower than years past, most likely an answer to the economic crisis. These slightly lower prices helped attract collectors back into the market. Many galleries were presenting booths that were already half sold at the close of the first day. Many gallerists talked about the lower prices being a way of staying attractive to collectors.
What do you think? Are art fairs as important to the art world as auctions and private galleries?