How small is the art world? and how big is the art market?
I hope the next articles will not only feed the passion for the art but also motivate all to question and change the paradigm of how all appreciate and value art. Fifteen years ago I started to face the question of how to expand the number of people who directly influence the decisions that define what we consider art. As you know there is a couple of thousands of people called elite, in the world who „play“ with the art market and influence in an autocratic way of how the rest (a couple of billions of persons) accept what this elite said what is good or bad art, or in other words „what art is“.
How did I reach this conclusion? The artists and the art that we see now as „art“ in the museums are the ones who remain in the collections of the „most important“museums and also private collections. The ones who dont belong to that collection are forgotten and remain swallowed by time and disappear like smoke in the air. So, the art market has become one with the art world, the artists who are considered „important“ are the ones who remain in the museums and collections for long periods of time. How much? From my point of view, I would say 50 years or more. The other column to consider an artist „important “ is how often you appear in the mass/social media of course how „prestige“ is the media for the art world influences dramatically. But the main reason that they often appear in the „prestige“ mass media it is because they are often selected by the „prestige“/“famous“/“important“ museums and the biennials.
The other indicator that an artist should consider becoming important is to pass the border of the primary market and start having a presence in the secondary market. And this is for a couple of times and could also be counterproductive because the price paid at the end of the auction could influence the prices of the primary market, and hence the „importance“ of their image.
Let’s look a little at the numbers:
According to the research of Magnus Resch’s team, the size of the art market is:
- 40,000 museums
- 20,000 galleries
- 1,400 auction houses
- 100,000 art advisers
- 6,000 important art buyers
(who spend more than $100,000 a year on art)
And looking at sales, for example, the total sale value of the art world in 2019 was 63 USD billion. And the sales of art in the primary market were only 3 USD billion! Can you imagine how small the art world is? considering for example the top 17% of the German galleries made 80% of all revenue in 2020.
So looking at these numbers you can see how small the art world is, and it is logical to conclude that there are just a few, “the Elite”, who define and manipulate what we all consider ART, not only for this but also for the next generations. That is something that really worries me and should also worry all participants of the art world, that is something that has to change, and I believe that only by changing our current paradigm of how art is appreciated and valued the power of “the Elite” will be collapse.