Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Contemporary Art Collectors Stay Close to Home

While contemporary art collectors' tastes are multifarious, and the locales they visit to purchase art vary, there is one aspect of art collecting that many collectors have recently agreed upon: the desire to buy local art. This trend - due in most part to the economic downturn of the past year - is a worldwide occurrence.

In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, Gary Wasserman, a major collector and Detroit steel company executive says he's stopped buying work from English and Chinese artists (like he previously had). Instead, he has decided to focus on buying "powerfully Midwestern" art.

Italian art collector Pierpaolo Barzan agrees, saying,

"I believe that I can put together a much stronger collection, and make an impact in the art world, by collecting local artists rather than trying to find the next Chinese star"

In addition to supporting local artists and strengthening local economies, the trend of buying locally has allowed art collectors to cut-back on expensive art-buying trips to international destinations.
Likewise, auction houses and galleries are noticing the shift and have made the appropriate changes. As Grett Gorvy, Christie's international co-head of postwar and contemporary art notes,

...the company decided to shift Chinese pieces to sales in Hong Kong. "There's been a reluctance in the U.S. and Europe for these works but the appetite is still strong in Hong Kong and Taiwan..." The New York sales for both houses also include no Indian artists, with the exception of Mr. Kapoor, who was born in Mumbai. Mr. Gorvy says top examples of Indian art were scarce this time around. Instead, both houses [Christie's and Sotheby's] have packed their catalogs with works that traditionally appeal to U.S. buyers, like Alexander Calder, Jasper Johns and Joan Mitchell.

The new direction of art collecting could prove to be extremely positive for artists in smaller U.S. cities (like Atlanta, Austin and Detroit) that have typically been overlooked by the art world. While some collectors are hesitant to stay local, many like that works by primarily regionally-known artists are cheaper (than those of international artists) and collectors may also feel a personal connection to artists who live and work close by.

To read the full article from the Wall Street Journal, click here.
Above images courtesy of the Wall Street Journal