The market for Post-War and Contemporary art – The Property Chronicle
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The market for Post-War and Contemporary art

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The art market has historically been subject to generational shifts. Old Master paintings dominated the market until the 1980s, at which point a diminishing supply of great works saw Impressionist and Modern art take over, fueled at the high end by an influx of Japanese collectors chasing masterpieces by Monet, Renoir and van Gogh. In the 2000s, a new era took hold as Post-War and Contemporary art began to represent an ever-increasing proportion of the art market: five years ago, almost half of global sales at auction were in this category and this growth has continued since.

In the 21st century art market, the internet, globalisation and cultural shifts have created a greater demand from more people than ever before to collect art, and while many of the major works by Old Master and Impressionist artists are now secure in museum collections, it is far easier for today’s collectors to acquire a top-class work by a more recent or living name. This in turn has prompted a huge industry, supported by countless galleries, auctions and art fairs which offer a plentiful supply of work, particularly in the contemporary field, where artists can keep producing work to meet demand. Before the Covid pandemic, there was enough supply to support more than 250 global art fairs, the majority offering contemporary art.

“The more traditional approach to the market, whereby people inherit or buy and keep works of art for a long time, has been eclipsed by an investment-driven approach”

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