Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to “Play the Art Market”

We hear about the “big ticket” sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s of Rubens and Botticellis, and we see the rising values fetched by post-war and contemporary art by de Kooning and Diebenkorn. Given what is hot on the market—whether it be the “enduring appeal” of the limited Old Master works or the “dynamic energy” of the new and upcoming—it should come as no surprise that the work of notorious street artist Bansky is such a phenomenon. Rachel Corbett of Blouin ArtInfo writes a very compelling article describing just how Banksy has pulled it off.
Unlike the intricate techniques and palettes characteristic of the Renaissance or the energy and vivacity seen in many contemporary works, Banksy uses stencils, as they are “quick, clean, crisp, and efficient.”
Banksy takes an economical approach to art; according to him, “The ruthlessness and efficiency of it is perfect.” This is quite humorous given that his studio-painted canvases now fetch upwards of $1 million. His anonymous street art has bolstered his fame such that collectors pay to have Banksy’s street art carved out of the structures on which it is painted.
Why is Banksy so famous? Namely because he has no name.  The  tagger once known as Robin Banx “wove anonymity with celebrity, irony with accessibility, and street art with high art to create the global Banksy brand.” Banksy capitalized on the untapped demographic of the young, would-be collectors who were not going to the galleries.  By shunning the art dealers, Banksy and his colleague Lazarides essentially circumvented the typical art market and instead completely controlled the distribution of the works; in effect, they created their own market for street art. Interestingly, this has opened up the art market within eBay and even within auction houses, as the artwork is snatched up literally off the street.
What is it about a certain type of artwork that makes it “hot”? It seems nigh on possible to distinguish any particular characteristics or qualities. One thing is for certain—the art world will continue to grow, and will always hold surprises. All art, it seems, has the potential to become a “big ticket” item. The artist just has to know how to “play the art market.”
Originally posted by Sally Johnson on CulturalSecurity.net.
Learn about the framework for Cultural Intelligence.

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