October 8, 2007

IMHO: Artists Retreat

In the October issue of The Brooklyn Rail, you can find my essay that explores how an art market crash might affect rank and file artists. "With the economy slowing down, hedge funds getting shaky, and investors seeking refuge, the art market seems certain to contract in a big way. 'We’ve seen an unprecedented appreciation of contemporary art in the 35 years that I’ve been collecting,' billionaire collector Eli Broad told The New York Times in August. 'We’re bound to have a correction.' Large-scale investors will start to worry about the illiquidity of their art holdings, and abruptly lose their taste for art. The Damien Hirsts and Brice Mardens are safe, but the emerging battalion of artists on the thin margin of commercial viability is imperiled, and so is the fragile infrastructure that supports them.

"In a fairly typical scenario, the gallery an artist has worked diligently to cultivate, having been powered by the bull art market, doesn’t make the rent when it turns bearish. The artist is left without representation. He or she may lose artwork kept 'in storage.' Furthermore, as Edward Winkleman has chronicled in his well-regarded art blog, check kiting becomes de rigueur in times of financial distress, and even formerly fair galleries may resort to withholding payment for work previously sold. Widespread gallery closings also mean fewer exhibition opportunities for younger artists. The abundant part-time jobs—often at the galleries themselves—that kept them solvent dry up." Read more in The Brooklyn Rail.

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