Contemporary photography market update from ArtTactic and Frieze Art Fair, London quick preview

On a quick tour of Frieze yesterday for the press view, it seems that the art market is making a recovery. VIP collectors and buyers get first look at the works on sale and by 4pm, a number of photographic works had already been sold or put on hold. These included works by Thomas Demand (Nursery, 2009), Catherine Yass (Ilfotrans transparency lightbox £16,000), Hannah Wilke, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andreas Gursky (James Bond Island II, 2007 in the Phi Phi Islands, Thailand, Euros 450,000) and John Baldessari (Noses and Ears, 2007). See the latest issue of HotShoe no 162 for an interview with the artist. There were also a number of galleries showcasing individual artists in the new section of the art fair FRAME which is given over to 29 emerging galleries under six years old. I will look at this in more detail for a review of the art fair scheduled for the next issue of HotShoe.

For the moment, it is worth noting what ArtTactic – An Insider’s View to the Art Market, Autumn 2009, Photography market set for a new phase, has to say about the current state of affairs:

“Although the (photography) market has had a slow birth, the sombre economic climate of the 1990s – provided fertile ground for a more affordable and democratic medium such as photography. From the early 90s, photography was to become one of the best performing markets. Volume and average prices rose sharply, and according to Art Market Research (AMR), prices increased by 285% from 1993 to 2008.

“The recent downturn has had a significant impact on the photography market – with spring volumes down 84% from one year ago –  a similar correction faced by the overall modern and contemporary market. Despite the downturn, the photography market could again seize the opportunity to take advantage of tougher market conditions, as it did in the early 1990s. The medium is rapidly garnering serious interest among mainstream collectors and museum institutions. Evidence of this is Tate’s appointment of a Curator of Photography Simon Baker. The outcome of this is that we are likely to see increasing exposure of photography at the Tate – a development that can only strengthen the photography market.”

ArtTactic publishes its first Photography Market Report in October 2009. Reports can be ordered at

If you have time, listen to Richard Polsky, art dealer and author of I Bought Andy Warhol and the sequel I Sold Andy Warhol (Too Soon) which was recorded July 9 2009. In this podcast “Polsky shares his thoughts on the results of the recent Contemporary auctions in London and what they tell us about the state of the art market”. Listen by following this link Richard Polsky.

Top 10 Ranking: ArtTactic Market Confidence – June 2009
Contemporary Artists

1. Gerhard Richter

2. John Baldessari

3. Bill Viola

4. Anish Kapoor

5. Cindy Sherman

6. Jeff Wall

7. Franz West

8. Jeff Koons

9. Neo Rauch

10. Rosemarie Trockel


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