let’s familiarize ourselves with the past. Below is a brief synopsis of the history of the global art trade.In the beginning of the Dutch Trade, artists used their work to relieve themselves from debt. They were not commissioned by a religious body like the Italians had been for years prior. They created the international trade of art, as Holland had an advanced dealer network of men trading internationally. The Dutch market fizzled out, however, in 1680, when the English Trade blossomed and the market thrived in Europe because it was primarily comprised of Industrialists who wanted something showy, bright and tangible. The Euro-Centric market prospered for the next 150 years or so. A change in the global art market took place at this time. Historically, the Academy stabilized the market and provided a commodity. Dealers had now replaced the Academy and become the machine.
From 1929-1962 there was hyperinflation in Europe so the market moved to America. The French market imploded in 1962 and the British market picked up, but the French never recovered. In 1973, the British economy crashed; oil prices soared, hyperinflation occured, alongside enormous debt, and the English had to go to the IMF for the first time. At this time though, the art market shot up! The resilience of the industry led it to remain relatively unscathed. During 1980 –1990 (the Thatcher and Reagan years), prices were high, high priced luxury goods were hot, and the buying trend continued until the 1987 NYC stock market crash. 1989 saw the London market bust as well. Hard times.
Afterwards, consumers wanted to put their money into something safe. They thought that art was an endlessly inflatable entity, but it will burst, just like any other market (i.e. Real estate). The 1990s saw the Japanese yen soar, like their real estate market, and about 45% of art and antiques were being imported to Japan. One year later, it crashed due to major corporate lending scandals. Big businesses were borrowing money to buy art, but the works had no resale value because of the inflated prices. Again, the market collapsed. 1991 saw the rise of Hong Kong, Basel and Zurich. Hong Kong was now pan-Asian and a VAT free port. Basel and Zurich were outside of the European tax ramifications so large collections in Switzerland formed a nucleus to support the market there.This brings us to the future. Chinese Contemporary is a no-brainer, but speculators and speculectors (collector/spectulator hybrid) alike think we should still keep our eyes on a possible rise in the French art market, most notably in photography (there will always be a stable African and Oceanic-Pacific market because of its colonial history). With recent Spring auction results now in, the Indian market seems to be the one to watch. Stay tuned.