ArtNet.com just tweeted this dire headline: “Art Market Poised to Plummet in October,” which was linked to an article on Luxist. (Honestly, it's a site I’d never heard of, which doesn’t have a tag line. Seems to be for luxury sales and living, which might explain why I'd never heard of it.)
In any event, I made the mistake of retweeting this headline as is. If you read the headline and read the statistics on the article, you would be hard pressed to find any good news about selling contemporary art.
Here’s the problem: Most of my Twitter followers and blog readers aren’t at all affected by this. The “art market” referred to in this article is really, as John T. Unger pointed out, an auction sale estimate. In fact, when most articles refer to the “art market,” they are talking about sales at the big auction houses. Auctions usually (except for last year's big sale by artist Damien Hirst) focus on secondary markets–art that is being sold by dealers and collectors.
Had your work appear at auction recently? I didn’t think so. That’s why you can safely read these dire predictions and know that they have very little to do with you and your own personal art market.
The article mentioned here also says that collectors are turning to private sales in order to have “more control over the outcome of the transaction.” This doesn’t mean they’re buying directly from artists. This means they are offering works from their collection for sale through private dealers rather than auction houses.
To learn more about the art market of big auction houses, I recommend the following books.
I Sold Andy Warhol (Too Soon) by Richard Polsky
Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton
The $12 Million Stuffed Shark by Don Thompson
Talking Prices by Olav Velthuis