The art market

And so you want to promote and sell your artwork, your best work. Maybe you want to become a full-time artist, or maybe you don’t aspire to that, and you just want to make money for your hobby, so that you can cover the cost of buying brushes, paints, canvases and pencils. However, when you think of the art market, it seems like something exclusive and reserved for the few.

Discover how the art market works

As we have seen some time ago, in the third Millennium it is possible to promote your own works of art even outside the traditional channels, without necessarily getting in touch with galleries. A well-designed website, well-managed social media pages, and you can have a good chance of getting your work under the nose of some potential customer.

Of course, it’s not easy, and that’s why we decided to put together a special guide to social media marketing for artists, in order to move in the right way on Facebook, on Instagram, on Pinterest and on the specialized platforms for artists.

How the modern art market was born

It’s still a bit early to get the exact figures on the 2019 art market. Looking at surveys that came out last year, though, we know that the 2018 global market value was $67.4 billion. In short, the art market is a truly huge thing. But how did such a ‘monstrosity’ come about? Well, the art market is undoubtedly an entirely modern creature.

First there was the academy

Until the second half of the nineteenth century, in fact, it wasn’t the public that did the rounds in the art world; indeed, the public was hardly contemplated. No, what counted was only and exclusively the Academy, which could bring success to an artist or, more simply, leave him confined outside its walls.

It was precisely the excessive rigidity of this institution that pushed artists to look for another way to make a living from art, and therefore another way to artistic consecration. If before, in fact, in order to arrive on the ‘market’ an artistic work had to be appreciated by the Academy, in the modern era this step becomes unnecessary.

A new collaboration between artists, collectors and critics

This success was possible thanks to the ambition and talent of the artists, of course, but also thanks to the support and participation of collectors with avant-garde interests, innovative critics and dealers, first of all, seen by many as the true inventor of the new ‘economic’ side of art.

The modern art market, in short, was born at a time when the Academy was forcibly taking a step backwards. But who are the key figures in this world today?

The key figures of the art market

Who does the art market consist of? On the one hand, of course, there is the artist. On the other there is the public, in the midst of which potential buyers nest.

Between these two poles there are other figures, who in one way or another become mediators: before taking the first step into the art market it is therefore good to know exactly the roles of each and the differences between one figure and another.

The Art Critic

Artistic works have always been the subject of value judgments. But not always the public is able to understand the narrative proposed by the artist. So here comes the respected and feared figure of the art critic.
His function is to help the understanding of valuable works, and he can be seen as the real main mediator between artist and public.

Indispensable when it comes to new currents, the critic is actually very useful even when dealing with apparently ‘easy’ works, which however hide symbols, anecdotes or technical virtuosity that the public – and therefore the potential buyer – could not grasp.

The result is that the art critic, even before being feared, must be seen as a hypothetical ally of the artist: getting in touch with an art critic with a similar sensitivity, therefore, can be a good springboard for an artist who wants to promote his work.

The curator

Another important figure in the art market is the curator, the professional who has the task of organizing, planning and managing exhibitions, shows and installations. He is a very versatile professional, who can work for museums, galleries and cultural foundations, and it is he who promotes the works that – in his opinion – can be successful at that particular moment. He is therefore a central figure in entering the art market.

The Gallery

Here is the place where all artists – or almost all – would like to arrive. In itself, the gallery needs no introduction. It can be public or private, it can present the works of a single artist or a group of similar or nearby artists, and it can determine an artist’s notoriety and fame.

If it is true that the gallery is a key element for the artist who wants to emerge, it is also true that you should not contact galleries at random: instead, you should present yourself to the galleries that, based on previous exhibitions, show the most affinity to your way of seeing art.

The Auction House

Finally, there is the auction house. Many might be surprised to see this subject here, in an article dedicated to emerging artists. Don’t auction houses deal with the sale of works that have already been on the art market for a long time, and specifically those that have already been purchased in the past by other collectors?

Yes, but not only, at least not in the last few years. In fact, many auction houses have also opened up to young, hopeful artists who want to put their work on the market. It is difficult – if not impossible – for an auction house to accept the work of an artist still unknown to most.