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Label: modern

Friday 01st July 2016Auction Houses and Millennial Artists

Millennials tend to have it rough when it comes to dealing with the established world. It could be argued that this is a universal trend experienced by all new "labelled" generations, but the art world is an example that seems to be oddly resistant to the fresh and the new.

Did that incense you? Good, because it is not really quite accurate. It's not the art world in its entirety that resists the millennial generation, but rather it seems to be the institutions that grant the final seal of approval that are resisting.

Those venerable arbiters of value and worth, the auction houses, are those who seem intent on snubbing the millennial generation. It would be an interesting comparison to see if this trend was paralleled by a similar disdain for the previous generations of new artists as they developed, but unfortunately that degree of research is out of the scope of this particular post.

Nevertheless, the data doesn't lie. In May, when the major auction houses such as Christie's, Sotheby's and so on stage their major spring sales, there was a strange absence of young modern artists. Not a complete absence, but one of that certainly could give rise to a bit of curiosity about the choices.

Charlie Moffat Jr. is the contemporary art specialist for Sotheby's and he explains some of the issue. "We've seen a lot of work produced by a lot of artists in a short period of time, [and so] we've seen an edited market for young artists."

This is certainly plausible on the face of it, and it's probably still a bit of a shock for those used to seeing everything from the paintings of old masters to some of the horrors of 90's contemporary art to suddenly be forced to come to terms with an entirely different (and primarily digital) paradigm.

Unfortunately, though, one wonders how much longer the auction house will be the arbiter of value and worth, as we mentioned earlier. Part of the digital revolution is the annihilation of the original, and that makes it a little more difficult to pin down the value of a work.
 

Posted on July 01st 2016 on 07:43pm
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