The global contemporary art market is not just surviving; it’s thriving. According to Artprice’s Contemporary Art Market Report for 2023, the sector has seen remarkable growth, both in terms of turnover and the number of lots sold. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the market, from key figures to emerging trends, and offers a glimpse into the future of contemporary art.

Key Takeaways:

  • Robust Growth: The global contemporary art market has seen a 17% increase in turnover, reaching a staggering $2.1 billion. Over the past two decades, the market has grown by an astonishing 1,200%.
  • Geographic Dominance: The United States continues to lead, accounting for 35% of the global turnover, followed by the United Kingdom and China. New York, London, and Hong Kong are the epicenters of sales.
  • Blue-Chip Artists Lead: Jean-Michel Basquiat, KAWS, and Banksy are the top-selling artists. However, female artists like Yayoi Kusama are making significant strides, and NFTs are also entering the mainstream.
  • Rise of the Ultra-Contemporary: Artists under 40 are gaining unprecedented attention, with auction turnover from this group exceeding $200 million for three consecutive semesters between 2021 and 2022.
  • A Cooling Phase: After two years of frenzied activity, the Ultra-contemporary art market has cooled off, with turnover dropping to $127 million in the first half of 2023. However, demand remains high.
  • Major Auction Houses Take the Lead: Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips are the dominant players in the Ultra-contemporary segment. Sotheby’s led the pack in the first half of 2023 with a turnover of $53.8 million.

The report also highlights the role of major auction houses like Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips in shaping the Ultra-contemporary art market. Sotheby’s, in particular, has been innovative in dedicating entire sales to the ‘latest’ art, thereby stimulating collector interest well beyond pre-sale estimates. Phillips, known for its prospective work, has been instrumental in introducing young artists to the auction market. Christie’s, although a bit more conservative, is gradually including younger artists in its prestigious sales, signaling a shift in market dynamics.

While the market has shown signs of cooling, particularly in the Ultra-contemporary segment, the appetite for new and innovative art remains unabated. The report serves as a testament to the resilience and dynamism of the contemporary art market, offering both collectors and artists much to look forward to in the coming years.


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