Contemporary art ‘on par with old masters and modern art’

The art market as a whole has shown a remarkable ability to not only bounce back from catastrophes outside of its control – the global financial crisis of 2008 – but to thrive in an economic environment that has been so very far from optimistic.
A lot has changed in a few years. You have, for one, a wider demographic of collectors and investors, from new and emerging economies around the world and from traditional spheres of big money.
Traditional markets may still be number one for investment – property, bonds, stocks and shares – but alternative assets are on the ascent, and increasingly, works of art, in particular, are proving to be highly sought after.
Additionally, this is seemingly the era of contemporary art, which from a historical point of view is ‘the now’, but from a selling and buying point of view, is inclusive of artists who were born in and around the mid-fifties.
Works by such luminaries as Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, George Condo, Rudolf Stingel, Richard Prince and Jean-Michel Basquiat has never been in such high demand as they are today. It all started pre-credit crunch, where between 2007 and 2008, revenue for contemporary art shot up by 50 per cent.
The latest report from ArtPrice comments how this period saw contemporary art finally emerge as an epoch of significance, finally on a par with old masters and modern art, both critically and commercially.
Analysing sales figures for the period between July 2012 and the end of June 2013, the study shows how a billion in revenue was generated in those 12 months. This is the first time sales of contemporary works of art have hit such a total, bolstered by new records set at the higher end of the spectrum.
“From the standpoint of the decade, the number of works sold has quadrupled and prices for contemporary art have risen by 34 per cent”, the report from ArtPrice notes. “The average yield rate is impressive compared with financial assets. It has turned out to be particularly appetising for investors; now swelling demand.”
However, it is not so easy to dip in and out of this market, as contemporary works do not offer the same kind of security as old masters and modern art. In spite of its acceptance, this is still too immediate an era to be overly confident. You need to know who to invest in.
In the US, the top fiving selling artists for the period covered by ArtPrice’s annual Contemporary Art Market report were, in order, Basquiat, Koons, Christopher Wool, Mark Grotjahn and Prince. In Europe, it was Basquiat, Peter Doig, Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky and Wool.
One name stands out. The neo-expressionist Basquiat, who died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27 in 1988, is “a name to reckon with”, and alone, represents 15.4 per cent of the contemporary art market. Moreover, his price index has grown by 500 per cent over the last ten years, which is nothing short of astonishing.
The future looks promising. Everything is still so immediate, which makes the successes of the wider art market all the more amazing. Think of it this way, if record-breaking sales can be achieved in a volatile environment defined by insecurity and anxiety, the possibilities in a buoyant milieu are quite endless.
Cadogan Tate can ship works of art from London to your chosen destination anywhere in the world.