Defining the market for original contemporary visual art

Defining the market for original contemporary visual art

By Morris Hargreaves McIntyre


The Taste Buds study explores the extent to which individuals in England buy or have the inclination to buy contemporary art for their homes through three questions:
  • How to enhance and increase sales of innovative contemporary art and private commissions through diverse distribution points;
  • How to help artists to become more entrepreneurial in their engagement with the marketplace;
  • How to expand the audience for contemporary work.
A series of recommendations propose how to help more artists to sell more work, help more people buy contemporary art, develop the supply side, build the collector base, and attract more cash into the sector.

The avant-garde is the sector where most of the subscription activity is taking place, and is where most critically engaged work is sold. But the entry point for most buyers is the Most Art segment, featuring low cost, non-critically engaged work, because the work is often accessible and there are a wide variety of supply channels. Some buyers stay here, but some gravitate towards the avant-garde. If they can’t gain entry into this segment, because of high prices or waiting lists, they may try to buy from emerging, innovative artists. 
Many emerging artists and dealers aspire to occupy positions in the avant-garde. This may mean that they resist sales to unknown buyers, and such buyers can be deterred from buying emerging art as well. The conventions of the subscription system, while serving a purpose for galleries in the avant-garde which are aiming at the public collections, are imitated by other galleries throughout the sector, resulting in many potential buyers being deterred from making purchases.

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Visual art
Resource type: Research | Published: 2013