Contemporary Art Market Keeps Growing

Contemporary Art Market Keeps Growing

By Amy Weber
Contributor to COMPANY
Holds a BFA in Design and is an avid art lover.

Art has always been a matter of taste, so it was no surprise when 60 Minutes veteran reporter, Morley Safer visited contemporary art show, Art Basel that he didn’t like what he saw. In his piece, Art Market Safer covered Art Basel with its 50,000+ attendance and monopoly on the contemporary art market it was the prime location for him to air his grievances and glimpse at a booming world market. Twenty years ago Safer did a similar piece, Yes. . . But is it Art? Both segments have caused controversy in the art world, and this time around they remembered him. Labeling what was for sale as, “art as stuff and stuff as art” Safer wasn’t there to win over any fans but to learn what all the fuss was about. His lackluster presence, comments and responses made him seem more lost than ever by the pieces end.

Despite Safer’s displeasure and bewilderment in what he saw he could not argue with the fact that contemporary art is a growing and profitable market. Doing about $5.5 billion in auction sales in 2011, the so called one percenters have found a place to dispose of their ever disposable income. With prices at last years Art Basel ranging from the thousands to the millions and with no price caps or signs of decline; the contemporary art market proved to be just as viable of a commodity as oil or pork bellies. This often leaves the rest of us shaking our heads and again feeling left out; as Mr. Safer often did.

But this isn’t your typical market where costs are decided by supply and demand. Art is often priced by what one is willing to pay for a particular piece. There is more bargaining, which leads to a more vicious and unsupervised playground. There are no rules and no regulations. And at the moment many dealers see no end to this boom. It is forever exploding. The growth which has been recession proof is greatly due to the influx of foreign money flooding the market. Billionaires from Russia and China are coming to America to stake their claims in contemporary art. Safer found some who buy from love and many who buy just because they can. 


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