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Globalization and the Art Market

In the past few decades, the art market has changed drastically. This change has been due to one uniting factor: globalization. The impossible has been made possible. Art developed in one country can now be sold all over the world. Globalization has advanced the art market in different ways that seemed inconceivable in the past. This essay describes the art market today and the effect that has been caused by globalization to this market.

According to Steger (2013), globalization in a short sense can be seen as the worldwide expansion and intensification of consciousness and social relations within traditional, cultural, economic, political, and geographical boundaries. The relationships between global and local have an influence on the art market. Sometimes the dichotomy of local and world art markets is explained by governmental policies. For example, Brazil shows a high import rate on the artwork. In other cases, the correlation exists because collectors prefer to amass from local art or shared cultural and artistic tastes. Globalization opens up the domestic market to the world. Local artists connect to the various art galleries and their works are represented in different art markets. Local buyers can also observe artworks from different parts of the world and have a wider market of art to choose from. 

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The locals offer protection from the perceived harmful effects of globalization. Localization of the artwork cuts down these struggles. Sometimes globalization creates a negative impact on local art markets, and therefore, artists have to walk on the thin line between local and global markets. Art is developed embracing the local spirit, which can be accepted globally. However, sometimes the local art market is undermined due to globalization. Art buyers forget that by buying from foreign artists, they are nurturing their talent. However, there should be a balance to make sure that the art market prospers.

According to Harris (2011), Malcolm Bull mentions that the two economies of the art world are the money economy (art market) and the attention economy. The money economy is an indication of the price value of acquiring ownership of art but not the value in the eyes of others. The attention economy, on the other hand, is an economy distinct from the money economy, but that operates on similar capitalist principles. In this case, the gallery owner or museum curator lends artists capital regarding exhibition space and in return gets enhanced attention for his/ her gallery or museum.

The relationship between the two economies is based on data collected from two online resources. Artefacts.net is an online resource providing the ranking of artists depending on their exhibition profile while Artprice.com provides the annual ranking of artists solely regarding the value of their annual turnover at auction. From this data collected, an inverse relationship exists between the two economies. At one end of the pole is the attention economy driven by pure art and culture, and on the other end is the money economy driven by the pre-existing demand of its customers. This is due to the modes of consumption within the narrow sphere of canonical cultural products. The money economy and the attention economy are relatively independent economies. The important aspect of this is to balance primarily the inequalities generated by each of the markets since each of them has its drivers. Pure art and culture being the driver of attention market and the clients’ demand drive the money economy. 

The current art market has made some developments in the past years. According to Clare McAndrew (2014), the international art market in 2013 reached 47.4 billion euros in sales of art and antiques. The increase in the art market value has, therefore, created employment directly for artists, art dealers, art auction houses, and trade fairs, which generate a cluster of valuable economic activity in a short span of time. 

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In the past, the art market was slow in identifying the potential of online marketing as a selling and client enlargement platform. This has slowly changed as shown. Online sales were at 5% of this global art sale, and this market including online-only companies, dealers, and auction houses is expected to grow at a rate of at least 25% annually. Collectors can bid remotely or even follow an auction online. They can also buy directly from artists’ websites or third-party platforms. The importance of this development is that it broadens the client base and opens up auction houses to a wider market.

Dealers reported that in 2013, the sales made through art galleries went up by 6% and reached 50% while those conducted privately or through auction houses went up by 1% each. The sales made through art fairs was 33%. Dealers, who made online sales of art in their gallery reported that 62% of their clients who purchased the art were new customers or even customers who’d never visited their art galleries. This shows that a new online market is still to be tapped through online sales by art galleries.  

Apart from the domestic sales, there is a trend that shows an increase in the flow of art and antiques between countries in the form of the value of art traded. World imports on arts and antiques made a rise of 19% to the highest total yet recorded of 17.6 billion euros. World export also grew to reach 18 billion euros. An increase in the import and export of art and antiques has raised domestic consumption and international trade and exchange.

In conclusion, globalization has had a big effect on the art market.  Other market base for art have been opened up by globalization through exportation of art and even online sales. Therefore, globalization has led to an overall increase in the sale of art and antiques worldwide in the art industry.

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