Over the last couple of weeks Sara and I have had lots of late night conversations with artists and gallerists from all over the world about the current state of the art market and where things might be headed.
One thing that’s been surprising for us to hear is that quite a few galleries and artists are talking about cutting their prices for work from established artists.
Surprising because in the past it would be sacrilegious for a gallerist or artist who’s built a base of collectors to even consider cutting prices on new work no matter how bad the environment was. For years we’ve heard gallerists say - “I’d rather go out of business then cut my artist’s prices.”
The reason for this has been that if you cut an artist’s price you alienate the buyers who purchased similar sized work only months before. It’s also seen a signal to collectors that the demand for the artist’s work is waning.
But this year, with many galleries facing the real possibility of shutting their doors, the discussion of cutting prices has changed. Many gallerist and artists are admitting that the prices for a lot of the work over the past few years has been far too high, rose far too quickly, and now completely impossible to sustain. Seemingly overnight, many artists went from pricing their work at $3,000 to $30,000.
So what do these artists do now? That’s what everyone is asking. Do they cut their prices so their galleries can try survive? Do they hold their prices and wait it out?
One European gallery told us that they were thinking of cutting prices by as much at 30% this year. They said:
“As an investment, art should be treated no different than a stock. Investments go up and down. Why shouldn’t art? On the flip side - If you buy art not as an investment but because you love it, why should it matter to you if the price comes down? You bought it because you loved it, not because of it’s value.”