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Notably recognised as one of the world’s largest art markets and undoubtedly Europe’s art trade centre, Art World Forum partnered with START Art Fair to host a tailored half-day agenda for art and business professionals at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea.
Recognised as a commercial art fair which supports and promotes emerging and mid-sized galleries, this year celebrated the fairs 5th annual edition welcoming international galleries and thousands of guests. With a sell out booth by Art World Forum nominated artist Lauren Baker, an innovative and truly mesmerising show by the Chinese Academy of Art and socio-political reflective work showcased by SMO Contemporary from Lagos, the customised half-day event sought to attract new fair supporters, provide a platform for the fair’s key partners and discuss matters currently influencing the market.
Defined as Art World Forum’s 8th international event and the inaugural edition to be held in London, the theme “Emergence and Confluence” sought to tackle the market’s rapidly changing cultural landscape, with an emphasis on innovative and creative growth. Discussions addressed the fruition of arts-led initiatives, their contribution to the international scene and their ability to merge with the global art market.
To start the day’s discussions, and contextualise the market, Adriano Picinati di Torcello, Director, Art & Finance Coordinator at Deloitte Luxembourg, defined the dynamically growing art market, its behavioural differences and what is meant by Art and Finance by referring to three main industries – the financial sector, the business sector and culture. Operating as a tripartite entity, Adriano drew significant attention to the financial synergies between all three sectors.
Highlighting the elephants in the room, “the democratisation of art, a revolution in the art market, an increase in transparency and regulation, and the working dynamic between art and technology,” all of which have independently encouraged corporate growth, acted as foundational arguments in favour of change, and which have organically nurtured micro-trends.
“During the economic crisis of the 90’s, the art market took about 15 years to recover. When the financial crisis hit again in 2008, the market took a mere 18 months to bounce back. Globalisation has undoubtedly made the market stronger.”
With a cohort of case studies to support all presented facts and figures, including the recent marketing initiatives of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, its exponential auction purchases, Picasso’s “Musketeer Bust” fractionally bought by 25,000 people for a mere US$51 each, and the collaboration between Beyoncé and the Louvre, Adriano stated “Culture is suffering”.
With a growing percentage of wealth (predominantly in Asia), the four listed pillars of service offered to clients include protection, monetise, transfer and invest. “The primary goal is to protect the wealth of your clients. The second goal is increase their wealth.”
Despite the financial struggles, culture has always maintained its significance and “mega cool” status; transcending space and time as it engages ever more-so with consumer brands.
Adopting technology, its means and structures, the digital medium was introduced as a reflection of today’s age. With greater access to digital tools than ever before, new technology formats including AI, AR, VR, and interactive works transcend the parameters of an ordinary experience by fusing the emotions of the artwork and the viewer. “The discussion is living because it is fed the real world and real time,” said Rob Anders, CEO and Founder of Niio. “The internet was made to bring us all together and in a way has alienated us.”
Building an ecosystem takes time. Catering for the main concerns of security, availability, maintenance and collection, it all boiled down to the fundamentals – “Trust!”
Delving more into buying habits of millennial collectors in this new technology era, Frédéric de Senarclens, Founder of ArtMarketGuru; Jakub Krcmar, Co-Founder of Veracity Protocol and moderator James Goodwin, Founder of ArtsResearch, analysed market happenings, changes and aspirations.
“What interests me about the art market, is how it responds to the outside world. Much of what happens there can be reflected or adopted in the art market. For this purpose: what are the origins of much of this new technology and how well or badly will it be applied in the art market?” asked Goodwin.
Despite the hype about new technology, its reach and potential, there was a unanimous understanding of its position in the current art market. With few collectors and dealers realising the impact and influence of technology, references were made to the recently held Christie’s blockchain summit, which indicated the first step taken by a player in the art market big leagues towards investigating start-ups and investing money in technology.
Defining the cultural landscape as a work in progress with a need to keep learning, often paired with time, effort and disregard, Krcmar explained the power of influencers, endorsements and technology’s ability to implement new forms of economy. “That’s where the force comes in. A big company explains that this is the future. You are then left with the choice – adopt the new technology and integrate, or be left behind.” Afterall, with technology “it’s all about data, data, data …. Make it more precise.”
Acknowledging innovation as the binding element that art and technology share, Dr. Dominique Bouchard, Head of Learning and Interpretation of English Heritage shared her concern on one of the main challenges – education; the way we cultivate ideas around connoisseurship and taste to answer a simple question “What is great art? As we increasingly rely on AI, is this the way we want to be offloading connoisseurship? Or should we rather be training people to generate original ideas to acquire, investigate and look?”
Intuitionally adapting to proactively contribute to the ‘what happens next?’, Irini Papadimitriou, Programme Manager of Digital Programmes, Learning and Interpretation at the V&A shared “It is obvious that art organisations are witnessing change. I’m not sure who takes the first step in adopting trends – the audience that paves the way for the others to follow, or the arts organisation. It’s a matter of responding. Even artists have gone as far as to create manuals to inform collectors of the technical maintenance involved in preserving their work.”
Globally competing for new clients and strengthening audience engagement in the form of art patronage, support systems and original initiatives searching for success, START’s first patron of the arts, Utsava Kasera explained that more than a mere monetary attraction his commitment to the arts is defined by the beneficial footprint he patronage could have on others.
Creating a sense of community and familiarity is integral to getting people involved. Deborah Harris, formerly the Deputy Director of The Armory Show, New York, shared her insights: “for years’ people would go to the Armory show openings. It was small group of people but it depicted this barrier that was inaccessible to young people. We therefore had to think outside the box and form partnerships with galleries and organisations – things that bring communities together.”
Talking about audiences, communities, clients and above all, art, you talk about emotion. The democratisation of art means there can’t be a monopoly because quite simply “You don’t need to be a millionaire to buy a fraction” mentioned Tiziana Maggio, Art Consultant and Curator of Maggio Art Consultancy. By building communities, making art more widespread and viewing the bigger picture demonstrates the art market’s nature – “Art doesn’t evolve in solitude” shared by Sunju Lee, Director of ARTWA and STARTnet.