Earlier this week, a cross-section of art industry professionals converged in Midtown Manhattan to debate some of the market’s most urgent questions. Hailing from around the globe and across sectors, participants in the second annual Art Business Conference in New York dissected topics ranging from the practical (see: how to guard your data against malicious hackers) to the philosophical (see: how to steward an artist’s legacy).
We’ve packed the most important themes into an easy-to-digest capsule for anyone not in attendance. And since every good medicine is just the result of chemical reactions, here are the three main ideological collisions on display at the conference—and why they matter so much for where we go next.
1. Transparency vs. Opacity
Most readers won’t have to be returned to consciousness with a syringe full of adrenaline, Pulp Fiction-style, after hearing that this struggle first emerged in a panel discussion called “The Future of Collecting.” But the world of galleries, art fairs, and auction houses was far from the only context in which the issue appeared. Presenters underscored the value of free and fair exchange—and the dangers of its absence—when discussing everything from the scholarly fundamentals of constructing a reliable catalogue raisonné to the business mechanics of traveling museum exhibitions.
There were signs of sunlight breaking through from unexpected corners. Philip Hewat-Jaboor, now chairman of Masterpiece Fairs after 46 years in the art business, declared that one of his “pet projects” was to make sure his events’ exhibitors included prices on all their wall labels—a goal informed by “so much firsthand evidence” that such openness helps lubricate sales. Read more