Changing of the Art Guard

We have been collecting art since we graduated college. The first piece we bought hangs at the entrance of our city apartment. It is not surprising that I have been angel investing in the art world for the past decade.

The artworld is a unique business. I am not sure I can pinpoint any other business that runs the same way. There was once a time where there were a few random galleries that represented artists of a particular genre. Metro Pictures, which has been around for 40 years, just announced, it is time to close the doors. They originally got behind the Picture Generation that blossomed between 1974-1984.

Metro Pictures won’t be the first to pass the wand. Even this summer, Gavin Brown closed and merged with Gladstone. Over the past decade, we have seen many smaller galleries close as the rise of large ones such as Hauser-Wurth, Zwerner, Gagosian, and Pace have become more than just a gallery but a place to see an important show, just like a museum. They have become more like institutions.

The chatter around NFT’s is becoming a cacophony. I strongly believe that everything should be on the blockchain. It gives authenticity to each piece in a secure place. There have been a variety of NFT’s sold at extremely high prices recently. I, for one, do not think they are worth the value that they were paid for. Yet, art prices have always been a reflection of simple economics: supply and demand.

The women behind Metro Pictures are seeing the next generation of art that at 75 has decided that they would rather play along from the sidelines. I applaud them for that. The question is, what happens to the next generation of galleries? The importance of seeing work and experiencing it can’t just take place in museums. Will gallerists become more like agents for an artist without having to own a brick-and-mortar space? Even new interactive shows are coming through cities that can now be achieved with technology.

The rise of the art fair worked hand in hand as the large galleries began to grow significantly. Post-Covid, will those art shows remain the same? How will they change? Will auction houses continue to be significant? How will they need to change?

Art is also being traded as an asset class on sites like Otis. Many people use art as an asset vs. something they love and want to support an artist’s growth, like a start-up. Are the top artists happy about their art on these sites? Will they participate in NFT’s? Unclear.

I have seen many changes in the art world over the past decade, including the rise of technology that has forced change. Everyone should have art in their lives; I wonder how the business model changes and how that affects the most important asset, the artist.