To mark the launch of The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2023, a panel of experts including cultural economist and report author Clare McAndrew of Arts Economics, Art Basel CEO Noah Horowitz and UBS Global Wealth Management Chief Economist Paul Donovan joined Financial Times art market columnist Melanie Gerlis to discuss the report’s key findings and the varying factors that shaped the art market in the last year.
“It was a really interesting market to watch.” Despite many headlines of record-breaking sales in the auction sector in 2022, author Clare McAndrew highlights that “public auction sales as a whole were stagnant”, as the sale of multi-million dollar works at top-tier auction houses represented only a small segment of the volume of works sold on the market as a whole in 2022.
Noah Horowitz discusses how galleries are rethinking their programming, as the report highlights that “galleries’ dependency on their top artist is somewhat lower in 2022 versus 2018.” Down 8% since 2018, Horowitz notes that “during the COVID period, galleries have done their homework, they've taken their time while things were moving slower to discover new artists, to resurface older ones, and to reposition their programs.”
“So, what do supermarket food prices have to do with art?” Bringing broader economic expertise, UBS’s Paul Donovan puts the report’s findings into a wider context, including the recent rise in inflation. “The fact that we've got this rather peculiar profit-led inflation story is complicating things for the cost base of art galleries and so forth” he says. Although travel costs are also on the rise, Paul adds that “there have been behavioral shifts [since the pandemic]…people are valuing experiences more highly now than they've done in the past” as art events and the desire to attend from collectors continue to grow.
Following a turbulent few years that saw similar change across all global markets, Clare McAndrew also highlights that 2022 saw more unique shifts across some of the bigger markets for the first time since 2019. “We had sales in the US going up, China down, and Europe a little bit flatter - and this is one of the reasons why we had this flattened out growth overall” she says.