Outlook for the art market in 2023

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The art market in 2022 was a record-breaking year. Total auction sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips ended up at $7.5 billion in 2022, a 14.7% increase on 2021. Meanwhile, the top ten auction results exceeded $1.1 billion. But what is the outlook for 2023? 

Jonathan Massey has over 30 years’ experience inthe art market. A current Mintus Advisor and member of the Investment Committee, he was formerly a Senior Director at Sotheby’s before working as Chief Operating Officer at Gurr Johns, the world-leading international art advisors. He uses his experience and market insight to ensure Mintus selects the best investment-grade art for our platform.

Discover his predictions for the art market in the coming year below: 

African Art and art from the African diaspora will continue to sell well… 

The market for African Art has been increasing over the past decade. Between 2016 and 2021, auction sales for African artists increased 17.2% year-on-year (ArtTactic, Modern & Contemporary African Artists Report 2016-2021). Growth continued in 2022, with artists from the continent and the diaspora like Lynette Yiadom-Boakye ($5.1m) and El Anatsui ($3.9m) posting significant, if not record, auction turnovers. Meanwhile, the growth of the market was recognised by major commercial galleries and institutions alike – Gagosian added young British artist Jadé Fadojutimi to their roster, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye was the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Britain, and Atta Kwami was commissioned to produce a mural for the Serpentine Gallery in London as winner of the prestigious Maria Lassnig Prize. Expect this to continue. 

… the same can be said for women artists. 

Women artists posted their highest share of the auction market in 2022, accounting for 15.3% of total sales generated, up from 12.8% in 2021. That growth was reflected in the ArtTactic Top 100 Post-War and Contemporary artists, which featured 25 women. Up from 21 in 2021, and 15 in 2020. Emerging names smashed estimates – Flora Yukhnovich sold over ten times her estimate to set her new auction recordof $3m back in March – and the more established names produced huge numbers – $56.5m at auction alone for Joan Mitchell. Despite these strides, there’s still a long way to equality and with the continued interest in discovering both new talent, and ‘re-discovering’ overlooked artists from the past, I don’t see demand for women artists’ work stopping any time soon.   

The London market is under pressure 

The wider ramifications of Brexit have been the source of constant political consternation for a while now, but the implications for the art market are becoming ever more apparent: London is indanger of losing its position as the premier market in Europe. With the logistical complications of leaving the single market, namely the increasing restrictions on the free movement of art within Europe alongside increased bureaucracy, there have been suggestions that Paris is becoming the new European destination. Art Basel launched a new edition of its globe-trotting fair in the French capital, whilst Masterpiece, the single London fair that encompasses art, antiques, and antiquities recently announced its cancellation in 2023 as it was “not commercially viable this year.” Despite this, talk of a fall may be premature: ArtTactic’s Auction Market Report has revealed that London saw sales increase by 8% to $2.3bn in 2022; meanwhile, Paris sales fell by 7% to $887m. Let’s see how this develops.

The big galleries will get even bigger 

The leading international galleries, such as Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, David Zwirner, Pace, oversaw major growth in2022. New artists joined their ranks and were the subject of major exhibitions,from Anna Weyant joining Gagosian to Frank Bowling and Ed Clark’s exhibitions at Hauser & Wirth (note: female artists and those from African diaspora.) In 2023, new locations have already been announced, from Los Angeles (David Zwirner) to Paris (Hauser & Wirth). Yet, more interestingly is each gallery’s pivot to become ‘360’ businesses. Publishing, hospitality (restaurants and hotels), digital platforms, and retail are all becoming complementary arms to one or more gallery’s artistic endeavours. It begs the question, what will it be next? 

The best quality always delivers 

Last year proved that when exceptional artworks come to market, there will always be demand. Twenty artists set auction records during the sale of the Paul Allen Collection, whilst five works sold for in excess of $100 million. Ultimately, even during the times of economic uncertainty, items that are of the highest quality and are fresh to the market – or have not been traded for many, many years – will always find strong prices.

This is why I expect the most iconic Post-War and Contemporary artists, from Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat to Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, to remain at the forefront of the market for years to come.

Image: Lynette Yiadom–Boakye, Nightjar, 2022. Exhibited for thefirst time at her retrospective exhibition, Fly in League with the Night, atthe Tate Britain, London.

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