Art markets in crisis: how personal bonds and market subcultures mediate the effects of COVID-19

The gallery’s online initiatives have supported sales, but at lower price points and Petzel lost substantial revenue within the first weeks. “It doesn’t keep my doors necessarily open, but it helps the artists to get through it,” he notes. A broader survey finds that nearly 200 US galleries reported a projected average loss of 73 percent for the first quarter (Kinsella 2020[12]). Reaching collectors is difficult, not only because of the pandemic’s large-scale disruption, but also because collectors are bombarded from all sides. A major collector, he estimates, receives up to 200 online offers a day. In line with the view of traditional collectors, Petzel notes that the internet has never been “a hugely popular way of looking at art,” unable to replicate art’s symbolic aura. As Petzel explains, “people that got into this in the first place… desire that type of interaction,” and that is a key reason why the gallery market has long been impervious to online sales.

The desire for personal, even emotional, connection might explain why most of Petzel’s online buyers during the crisis come from the gallery’s social orbit. They are trusted collectors who are already familiar with the artists’ work and support the gallery’s program. Petzel’s experiences mirror those of other dealers (Spiegler 2020[13]). In the “moral economy” of the primary market, the leap into a distant digital sphere has not so much generated new relations, but has reinforced trusting bonds. Because of the centrality of these relations for his gallery, Petzel does not expect that the internet will dramatically change how he operates once the pandemic is over. Artists, dealers, and collectors wish to appreciate artworks in person once again and experience their shared commitment to art through community. The rituals at openings, dinners, and even handshakes matter.

References

  1. ^ Horowitz, N. 2012. Internet and Commerce. In Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets: A Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios, ed. Maria Lind and Olav Velthuis, 85–114. Berlin: Sternberg Press. (link.springer.com)
  2. ^ Khaire, M. 2015. Art without borders? Online Firms and the Global Art Market. In Cosmopolitan Canvases: The Globalization of Markets for Contemporary Art, ed. Olaf Velthuis and Stafano Curioni, 102–128. New York: Oxford University Press. (link.springer.com)
  3. ^ Becker, H. 1982. Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press. (link.springer.com)
  4. ^ Cappelletti, A., M. Gloria, and F. Meris. 2013. Meet the Dealer: Friedrich Petzel. The Collector Tribune,
    https://www.collectortribune.com/2013/03/07/meet-the-dealer-friedrich-petzel/

    . Accessed 10 May 2020. (link.springer.com)

  5. ^ Velthuis, O. 2005. Talking Prices: Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (link.springer.com)
  6. ^ Bourdieu, P. 1993. The Field of Cultural Production. New York: Columbia University Press. (link.springer.com)
  7. ^ Fillitz, T. 2014. The Booming Global Market of Contemporary Art. Focaal 69: 84–96. (link.springer.com)
  8. ^ Velthuis, O. 2005. Talking Prices: Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (link.springer.com)
  9. ^ Velthuis, O. 2005. Talking Prices: Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (link.springer.com)
  10. ^ Alexander, J. 2004. Cultural Pragmatics: Social Performance Between Ritual and Strategy. Sociological Theory 22: 527–573. (link.springer.com)
  11. ^ Footnote 1 (link.springer.com)
  12. ^ Kinsella, E. 2020. Just How Bad Has the Financial Fallout Been for US Galleries? A New Survey Crunches the Numbers—and They’re Bleak. Artnet News, May 19,

    Just How Bad Has the Financial Fallout Been for US Galleries? A New Survey Crunches the Numbers—and They’re Bleak

    . Accessed 23 May 2020. (link.springer.com)

  13. ^ Spiegler, M. 2020. In Will the Market’s Digital Pivot Continue Post-Pandemic? Webcast by Art Basel, June 11,

    . Accessed 18 June 2020. (link.springer.com)

1 2 3 4 5

Share