London Art Fair Reveals Market Optimism

London Art Fair

London Art Fair survey reveals gallery optimism for 2012, with gallerists convinced collectors collect for love of art irrespective of economic climate

A survey of leading galleries undertaken by the London Art Fair has revealed considerable optimism for the future of the art market, despite general doom and gloom about the economy. So, while 76% of the galleries believe that the economy will either stay the same or worsen in 2012, alomost half (45%) believe that the art market will improve over the next 12 months.

The art market has so far remained remarkably buoyant despite the general economic downturn. 2011 was a year in which the art market outperformed the stock market by 9%, effectively making art a better investment that stock. But there are fears that this relative vibrancy may wither in the year to come, if the economy remains flat or worsens. In this context, exhibitors at the 24th London Art Fair, which specialises in Modern British and contemporary art, were surveyed to get a sense of how they felt they would fare, not just during the fair, but in 2012.

But the galleries remain optimistic, confident that the art market will always be buoyed by the fact that collectors will buy whatever the economic outlook. This belief, it seems, comes from the principle that, while art may be a good investment, collectors ultimately collect for the love of artwork. 72% of galleries, for example, cited factors such as ‘passion’ for a particular artist (33%), recognition of high quality (20%), and enjoyment of buying (19%), as the reason people collect art. In the words of one gallerist, ‘the people who keep coming back are those who have a deep attachment to the art. It is fundamental to the way they live.’ Only 8% of galleries think that collectors buy work primarily as an investment. But the point has also been made that factors like low interest rates may indeed have driven more people to invest in art, with 16% of galleries believing this to be true.

A further reason for belief in continued art market buoyancy, in London at least, is the Olympics, with 75% of galleries believing that the Games will have a positive effect on their business. Similarly, given that the London Art Fair galleries specialise in Modern British and contemporary art, 2012 looks to be a good year for these galleries, with blockbuster exhibitions of Lucian Freud, David Hockney, and Damien Hirst, promising to increase the profile of their field.

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