International art sales on the up


Dr Clare McAndrew

The distribution of sales by value in the global art market was dominated by the three major art markets in 2014: the US (39 percent); China (22 percent); and the UK (also 22 percent), according to economist Dr Clare McAndrew, researcher and writer of the 2015 TEFAF Art Market Report.

In China, the market is now showing the potential for slow, positive growth, in contrast of with the frantic activity that market exhibited for a few years, when it became flooded with items of low quality or dubious provenance.

“As people stop feeling it’s a dubious place to transact in, things will start growing, but I think it’s going to be slow,” said McAndrew.

She added that buyers from emerging markets such as the Middle East, Russia and Mexico, are buying a small amount in their home markets, which tend to be at much lower price points, and are making their high end purchases in London, New York and Hong Kong.

Against this backdrop, international art fairs are becoming increasingly important. While there has been much talk in the market of ‘fairtigue’, McAndrew found that fairs are continuing to perform well.

“A few years ago a gallery might have gone to 10 fairs; now I’m hearing that they are going to just four or five, targeting the fairs that give them the best results. It means some of the major fairs are getting better sales then last year.”

McAndrew found that exhibitors at Freize, The Armory Show and TEFAF were experiencing strong sales, and that international fairs are becoming increasingly important in terms of sales.

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