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Contemporary Art Auction Sales Have Shrunk by 20% This Year—Why?

Have auction catalogues—which were, not too long ago, the size of telephone books—seemed thinner to you this year? You’re not imagining it.

New analysis from artnet News and artnet Analytics reveals that auction houses offered around 20 percent fewer contemporary works of art during the first half of 2017 than in the equivalent period last year. The total number of contemporary works to hit the auction block in the first half of the year is down 30 percent when compared to the same period in 2014, when the art market was at its frothiest.

What’s driving this trend? Some experts say the data confirm that the market has returned to a more rational level of pricing and volume. “The market is beginning to normalize after an overleveraged period. It’s basically a bell curve and it’s shifting back towards a more normal level,” the art advisor Todd Levin, the director of Levin Art Group, told artnet News. “It seemed like the market sort of jumped the shark in 2015.”

The number of contemporary works on offer in dedicated postwar or postwar and contemporary sales (70,473 lots at 420 auction houses worldwide) and the number of contemporary works that sold (47,052 lots) both shrunk in the first half of the year, artnet data show. The amount of contemporary art to hit the auction block declined by 20.8 percent, while the amount purchased shrunk by 17.5 percent. read more

2018-10-29T11:04:33+00:00