January now kicks off the international art season. Following on the success of the Miami Art Fairs in December and recent strong auction performance, the art world is looking forward to a robust 2011. We have three fairs here in Los Angeles: Photo LA, The LA Art Show and Art Los Angeles Contemporary. A new contender of note in Asia is Art Stage Singapore which opened January 12. India Art Summit in New Delhi is in its third edition, Jan 20-23. Art First Bologna begins the monthly parade of European fairs on Jan 28. Who said January was a slow month?
Art as a commodity is no longer a concept; it is a fact. Portfolio managers now recommend art as part of a diversified portfolio. Players everywhere are trying to organize, categorize and monetize works of art. The strategies and techniques that have evolved in other industries are being adapted for new art businesses. The internet is the key driver.
I hold dear an idealistic belief that art can have a transformative power and that it offers a pleasure separate from commerce. That being said, there is plenty of evidence for the investment potential of art. Here are a few, among many, of the new emergent tools of the trade:
Established in 2004, Skate’s Art Market Research has matured into a serious tool for ranked art information. It provides individuals and institutional investors around the world with “reliable and unbiased research” supporting art investment decisions. Skate’s Art Investment Review is a newsletter that presents original material from their website, providing up-to-the-minute market commentary about the trends and investment opportunities in today’s art market. Skate’s profile is growing; they hosted a conference at the recent Art Basel Fair in Miami. But Skate’s has plenty of company around the globe. The attempt to compile sales records, predict market direction and value for artworks is now a huge endeavor including Berlin’s ArtFacts, Britain’s Art Sales Index and Art Market Research, Paris-based Art Price Index, China’s Artron, Art Market Report from Australia and US contenders ArtNet and American Beautiful Asset Advisors (Mei Moses Index), among others.
ART STOCK EXCHANGE
A & F Markets of Paris will soon be launching Art Exchange, the ﬁrst stock exchange for Art that will be open to the public and to institutions who wish to buy and sell shares of artworks via its marketplace. Art Exchange will attempt to render the investment in art in a way that is theoretically simple, fast and liquid.
Art Exchange will launch with a modest selection of exceptional artworks including a major installation from Mike Kelley and a sculpture by Anselm Kiefer. Art Exchange plans to offer a large and diversified choice of high quality artworks representative of current market interests. Through its website, anyone can access and consult the list of artworks available, all of which are authenticated and certified. Each piece is accompanied by a detailed dossier of presentation, financial analysis as well as factual information on the artists and the art market in general. Clients have the option to set alerts in order to stay informed on the artworks of their choice.
ART AND THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Art.sy is a new website founded by Carter Cleveland, a 24-year old computer science engineer that will launch this Spring. Larry Gagosian is a supporter, Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, is an investor along with Russian art entrepreneur, Dasha Zhukova, who is also the creative director. Art.sy is designed to be a place to discover and share original fine art online that is integrated with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Collectors can share artwork they like with friends using a Facebook application that publishes a gallery of favorite artworks, and a unique URL that creates short and easily-identifiable links to artwork on Twitter. Art.sy will make personalized artwork recommendations to collectors based on works they like and trends within the social networks, similar to the way Amazon makes book suggestions or Pandora suggests music options.
ART FAIR, ONLY ONLINE
VIP Art Fair (Viewing in Private) is a one-week fair which takes place exclusively online, Jan 22-30. Organized by New York gallerist, James Cohan and his wife Jane, along with internet entrepreneur Jonas Almgren and his wife, Alessandra, the roster boasts top international galleries. Viewers register and enter the virtual gallery spaces. They have an opportunity to chat with dealers via instant messaging, Skype, and telephone to discuss works on offer. Dealers will be able to provide access to their gallery’s back room inventory, sharing works in real time with clients in specially-created Private Rooms on the client’s own computer screen.
It’s only January. Buckle your seatbelt! Keep your digital devices charged and your passport updated.