There is an age-old debate that closely follows the discussion of the art market: is it a contradiction that art is linked to a market? Doesn't it go against the idea of ​​free art to bind it to values, quotations, investments, buying and selling? We don't have an answer to this difficult question, although perhaps it is actually difficult to exempt something from the world of economics nowadays, but it is the starting point for great reflections. So, for now, let's assume that an art market is right and necessary and is also functional to art itself: now we can start talking about the topic.

The markets in general reflect what happens practically immediately: for example, Draghi speaks and the spread lowers a few minutes later, but this does not happen in the art market. The art market has characteristics that differentiate it from the others: it is very resilient, quite safe, a bit ruthless, considered a buffer, characterized by few players, it does not generate cash flow but only capital gains . Translating: it is a niche market, considered very safe, even if not accessible to everyone, and its risk is linked almost exclusively to the potential fraud encountered with fake works and not to future returns. It therefore represents a safe investment , a bit like gold.

 Both the production and the circulation of art reflect, as is known, the historical, social and political moment of society: for example, feminist, anti-racial movements, particular political situations have a notable media echo and consequences of various kinds and this is also reflected in a change in sales volumes and prices, as well as in the shift of market shares from more consolidated sales categories to some that are less explored .

More generally, the art market moves cautiously and follows wealth creation trends: between 2019 and 2020, for example, with the onset of the pandemic, it contracted moderately compared to other markets. Most of the auctions have moved online, with two consequences: mainly the sales of top lots (i.e. all the goods awarded for more than $ 2,000,000) have decreased in favor of the intermediate categories of the market, but online sales are more than doubled compared to 2019. This recession, the most serious in the world since 2009, has created serious problems of uncertainty in numerous markets, including the artistic one, which however has shown flexibility - understood as the ability to adapt of a market that has been able to react to unprecedented challenges posed.

Flexibility first of all on the part of the offer: the operators had to find solutions in a short time to keep the market alive, relying on virtual platforms and studying new strategies to stimulate demand, also with the use of social networks. Even on the demand side, the response has been quite positive: many collectors and enthusiasts have been willing to adapt and make compromises online in order to continue their business. Moving part of the market to the web is one of the – few – positive legacies of the pandemic, because it is a tool that will certainly continue to be exploited, given its enormous potential. However, the physical market remains of vital importance, because virtual platforms are only able to partially support the market: the collector continues to have the need to see a live work.

The Venice Biennale has always played an important role in dictating the trends of contemporary art and in periodically outlining the direction that art is taking. Focusing on the last few years, we notice a massive presence of works from the black community in the 2019 Art Biennale, May you live in interesting times curated by Ralph Rugoff. In the main world markets, sales of works from the African continent recorded a record £14 million that year , an increase of 41% on 2018 (£9.9 million). The current Biennial, The milk of dreams curated by Cecilia Alemani, is the consecration of black and female art (about 90% of the artists exhibited identify with the female gender). For this and other reasons, we highly recommend a visit.

What shape the market will take in the coming years is an interesting question. The legislative framework for the protection of new forms of digital art will certainly evolve and we will see increasingly massive volumes of transactions carried out in cryptocurrencies. New market places are likely to strengthen alongside the more established Paris, New York – which remains the strongest, with 43% of value sold in 2021 – London and Hong Kong. According to Cristina Masturzo , pen of the Art Tribune, the level of exchanges has returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to data from ArtBasel, and this thanks to the increased spending of buyers (in addition to their numerical increase). This has pushed up the value of some works to the detriment of works in which interest has fallen. Most of the art on the market right now is contemporary and for now there's no reason to think it won't be the same in the years to come.

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