Europe's art fairs boom amid soaring prices
By Andrew McCathie Jan 17, 2007, 14:46 GMT
Berlin - Europe's leading contemporary art fairs are opening this year amid soaring art prices as the global art-buying binge rolls into 2007.
'As prices continue to rise and further awareness and confidence in the contemporary market increases, more and more people are likely to start buying and investing in contemporary art, ' said Anders Petterson, the founder and director of the London-based art market research group ArtTactic.
In April, the art industry gathers in Cologne for the city's four- day contemporary art fair, which this year has been brought forward to the northern European spring.
More than 20 nations and 180 galleries are to be represented at what is the 41st Art Cologne.
'Public interest in current art is tremendous, and at the moment there's no end in sight,' said Art Cologne director Gerard Goodrow.
Three months later, the 52th Venice Biennale, Art Basel in Switzerland, Documenta and Skulptur Projekte, both in Germany, open their doors in short space of a few days of each other.
The international art market caravan then makes its way to Berlin in September for the German capital's burgeoning Art Forum and then on to Istanbul's contemporary art fair later in the year.
Apart from last year's pickup in the global economy, financial markets and property prices, also helping to fuel the global art market boom has been the spread of economic prosperity around the world.
In particular this includes the emergence of a new rich entrepreneurial class in the wake of economic change in nations such as Russia and China.
ArtTactic said its twice-yearly Contemporary Art Market Confidence indicator, released this week, rose to a record high of 94 points in November 2006. 'This implies that the bulls outweigh the bears by a ratio of 16:1,' said Petterson.
The indicator, which is based on the responses of about 180 leading international contemporary art collectors, dealers and auction experts, rose to 93 points in May from 74 one year earlier in May 2005.
Moreover, the ArtTactic indicator's gauge measuring art market expectations also gained, pointing to increased confidence among respondents in the world economy's outlook over the next six months.
But like other key investment markets, overhanging the global art business is the great economic unknown for 2007 which is the threat posed by a possible sharp slide in the US economy during the coming months.
In the meantime, the batch of art fairs which are to take place in the coming months will enable dealers and collectors to take the pulse global market following the start of the new year.
Coinciding with a boom for luxury goods, prices for artworks have been bounding ahead around the world in recent years.
Art prices in the US alone jumped by 27 per cent in 2006, according to Artprice.com, which tracks art auctions. Meanwhile, total auctions in New York hit a record high last year.
In particular, artists from China and India have been emerging as hot favourites.
The world's two leading auction houses - Sotheby's and Christie's - ran up last year combined sales of contemporary Asian art in auctions in leading world cities totalling almost 200 million dollars. This represented nearly a tenfold increase compared to their combined sales in 2004.
Art industry analysts are expecting the new emerging generation of artists in China to start to eclipse the nation's more established names as western interest in art from the Asian powerhouse economy grows.
Also underpinning the market is the expansion of the trade fairs to other parts of the world with galleries from the new frontline in the contemporary art business also moving to establish beachheads in key markets around the globe.
A case in point is Art Basel Miami, to be held in December having established itself as one of the most contemporary art fairs in the world.
About 50,000 people turned up for Art Basel Miami last month, which many in the art business hope will act as a curtain raiser to this year's global art fairs.
Art Cologne has established a similar fair on Spain's Balearic Islands in the Majorcan capital of Palma de Majorca.
The fair open its doors for the first time this year in September with about 60 international galleries expected to set up shop at the Art Cologne Majorcan offshoot.
What is more, the increasing importance of the Dubai art fair, which is to be held in March, is also helping to give a boost to contemporary Indian art.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur