View of the Lincoln Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Less Tradition. Higher Tension. More Fairs

A few art world predictions for 2014

A couple of weeks into 2014 and we are starting to speculate what the new year will bring for the art world. Georgina Adam from The Art Newspaper and Ben Davis of Blouin Artinfo gazed into their crystal ball and came up with some interesting predictions worth keeping in mind over the next twelve months.

If we start at the base of it all, Ben Davis expects the structure of Fine Art degrees to change, or at least he hopes so. In his mind charging young people an increasing university fee for courses that prepare them for a badly paid career doesn’t seem to be too sustainable. Furthermore, the critique of an over-professionalization of art is mounting and could lead to discrediting MFA degrees. It will be interesting to see what the alternatives are to make art production more diverse. Public Schools? Alternative fairs?

A shift from traditional MFA degrees could also meet the demand of museums for more large-scale entertainment art. Following Davis expectation, museums will increasingly focus on their available space and push away from the "things-on-the-wall" style.

A prediction that greatly interests us is what Georgina Adam has to say about the online art market. According to Adam, former huge investments into online sales and businesses will level off a bit and companies will have to come up with new models of financing, which should keep the business exciting to follow. Although eBay and Amazon have joined the league of selling art online, one should not expect serious competition (after all, admitting to purchasing an artwork from either website does not seems to be too attractive). But an overall growth of the online market, following Adam, can be expected.

Regarding sales in the offline world, Adam awaits the tension between art dealers and auction houses to worsen. To quote the author: "The $1bn of private sales racked up by Christie’s and $906.5m by Sotheby’s in 2012 (we do not yet have the figures for 2013) put the firms on the same level as some of the world’s biggest art dealers". This is increasingly taking money out of the secondary market, promoting "a winner takes it all" situation. Also, the competition between the two leading auction houses will presumably heighten.

A concept that seems to enjoy much success is the art fair. Every booming location seems to want one. The newest edition being Silicon Valley Contemporary and Art Silicon Valley, that will bring a bit of high culture to the tech-millionaire Mecca. Nevertheless, a sense of what Adam termed "fairtigue" amongst dealers could lead to a greater selectivity of which fair to attend, making it increasingly difficult for new fairs to build up a reputation.

Certainly, as Davis states as a conclusion of his futuristic view, a lot of what happens in the art market in 2014 depends a lot on what happens in the "real" economy.

We will see how things turn out in the next twelve months.

View of the Lincoln Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

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