5 Top Art Advisors on How the Art Market Could Change in 2024

Surprisingly divergent predictions from pros in the know.

Helena Newman, auctioneering Gustav Klimt's record-breaking Dame mit Fächer (Lady with a Fan) by Gustav Klimt. Photo by Haydon Perrior, Image courtesy Sotheby's.

With geopolitical turmoil swirling but the economic horizon possibly brightening, the trajectory of the art market in 2024 is anyone’s guess. Nonetheless, we got some of the best guessers to opine on where they see things going as the year kicks off.

The feeling that the art market is being hit by a major shift was particularly palpable near the end of the year. War in the Middle East and in Ukraine, combined with inflation, and murky, sometimes contradictory, economic indicators might have seriously shaken the global art market in 2023. To the surprise of some, these factors did not entirely deflate it, although they’ve definitely slowed the market from the breakneck pace of recent post-pandemic years.

Of course, supply and demand play major roles in what blue-chip pieces turn up on the auction block. Christie’s CEO Guillame Cerutti referenced this in a recent conference call, deeming 2023 a “paradoxical year,” because of the inevitable comparison to 2022, the house’s “best year ever,” when it pulled in more than $8 billion in revenue, thanks to several stellar single-owner collections.

We asked five top art advisors for their take on what to look for—and brace for—in the global art market in the year ahead.

 

Thomas Stauffer, Art advisor and co-founder of Gerber & Stauffer Fine Arts, Zurich

The entire world is in a severe crisis mode—wars, climate change, the unknown impact of A.I. In uncertain times like these, collectors are returning to solid and supposedly safe values. The tendency to focus on safe blue-chip contemporary artists will continue to increase in 2024.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for young artists to find exhibition opportunities. The competition is fierce. Many more artists and art school graduates are entering the art market than 25 or 30 years ago. Although there are around 20,000 galleries worldwide, the number of artists vying for exhibition opportunities and gallery representation is much higher.

In 2024, we will see an increased tendency towards underrepresented and marginalized artists, artistic movements and groups. I am thinking in particular of the indigenous art of the Sámi in Scandinavia or the indigenous art from Brazil and other Latin American countries. There is still a lot undiscovered and unexplored in this area, but it has enormous potential. Curators, researchers, museum directors, and galleries are showing increasing interest in this type of art. The first-ever Sámi Pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale was a pioneering example of how indigenous art is gaining recognition worldwide.

The female avant-garde could become a major theme in 2024, and with it the avant-garde in Central and Latin America. Female artists and LGBTQ+ artists have been underrepresented for decades and shown significantly less in galleries and museums worldwide compared to their male counterparts. In 2024, we will hopefully have the pleasure of seeing a lot of art by women and art by LGBTQ+ artists. In this respect, the art market has a lot of catching up to do.

 

Karen Boyer, founder of Elements in Play Fine Art Advisory, Miami

It’s very much the buyer’s market and I do think it will stay like this for a bit.

There are opportunities. At the fairs [in 2023], sales were slower than in the past and for me that was good. We didn’t roll in on Wednesday and everything was sold. There was work available. Clients had longer to make decisions. We could buy things without having to BOGO (Buy One Give One policy by galleries that has become common for in-demand artists). That’s the change: Being able to buy things on their own. Which is very good. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when there were no discounts and you had to BOGO. We got discounts on everything. Not huge out of the ordinary discounts; like 10 percent to 15 percent. The next big art fair is Frieze L.A. That’s the next indicator.

I spoke to a client who said he’s thinking of putting a work at auction and I told him that we should wait because the auctions were soft in the fall, and we should see how the market is. The big works wouldn’t be consigned until May anyway. People like me might want to sit on the sidelines and see how things go between now and then—no offense to the auction houses.

 

Todd Levin, founder of Levin Art Group, New York

There’s currently a deadlock in the art market as we enter 2024 that’s been in formation since the week after Christie’s Paul Allen sale, and this impasse will last most or all of this calendar year. Sellers are not willing to accept what buyers are offering, and they need to acquiesce to new price levels. There’s been a lot of recent mention in the pages of Artnet about this being a so-called “buyer’s market.” That opinion seems to be unrealistically optimistic rather than sensibly coherent. This current market deadlock will be broken when the global economy worsens and/or an actual buyer’s market appears, where sellers are forced to accept less than they imagine to be optimal.

 

MaryKate O’Hare, co-head of art advisory and finance, Citi Private Bank, New York

The year ahead is full of unknowns, from politics to the economy. Our clients are responding by bringing greater thoughtfulness to why they’re collecting, what they’re buying, and how much they’re willing to pay.

We anticipate the recalibration we’ve seen in 2023 will continue. We wouldn’t go so far to say that it’s a buyer’s market, but it does feel like the market is acting more rationally. We expect auction estimates will continue to ratchet down to less speculative levels, paired with more sensible asking prices on the secondary private market and greater openness to negotiation. Consignors will have to temper their expectations as frenzied buying retracts.

We believe 2024 will offer opportunities to those collectors, like many of our clients, who focus on historical and more established artists. Though investment is always a point of consideration, our clients are driven more by how art offers personal gratification rather than by possible financial returns. As the Baby Boomer generation transitions its wealth, many significant art collections will continue to come up for sale. In contrast to some reports, we see noted interest in these collections on the part of the next generation of collectors. Their curiosity and openness to discovery will continue to fuel the market.

 

Nazy Nazhand, founder of Nazhand Art & Culture

Given the lackluster fall auction season, my view is that we’re in fact on the road to a more robust art market in the spring of 2024, and that there will be a healthy spike in the market with savvy sellers and buyers recognizing the opportunities that can come from past slow cycles. And I foresee 2024 will be the year of the Great Woman Painters, with Emma Webster, Danielle Mckinney, Ambera Wellmann, and Louise Bonnet leading the way.

 

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