I'm not so sure that art is taken seriously in a boom. Prices and collectors and dealers seem to be taken seriously. Art tends to be a byproduct - a means to an end in our fascination with the market during a boom. Who bought that? And they paid what?
That being said, the recent boom was good for art, I think. We read about art and artists and the art market in almost every newspaper and magazine in this country - Time, The Economist, and even the glossiest of glossies, Elle Decor, Vogue, Metropolitan Home, etc. The more eyes on "the biggies" (those making news at auction) helped draw eyes to the "up and coming" (artists in mid-career). More people wanted to play in the art sandbox so there were opportunities for more sandboxes to be built. More collectors, more galleries, more art available.
A bust means that less will be spent on art, for sure. But perhaps it also means that more people will be focused on the art rather than on the market of art?
We all know it is just plain tough impossible for an artist to support themselves by making art. I know that in a bust it is even harder for artists to be artists. Many say this (fewer artists) is good for the art world. I don't agree. Rather I think a few less collectors would be good for this art world. Smarter dollars being spent to ensure smarter careers (longer shelf life) for artists. But it is all connected, isn't it? With fewer collectors (less $) in the market, fewer artists will be able to live on art. Many will give up making art all together. But some will survive and thrive in a new market creating new art for new reasons and new audiences. Art because it has to be made. Hopefully leading to inspiring collecting. More collecting to support artists (primary market) rather than supporting auction houses and other collectors.
I post this on the day before the opening of art fair weekend in New York. I am out of town this weekend. Part of our collection is being shown in Dallas. I'm here for the opening. Bad timing on my part because now more than ever I hope to support the market by continuing to collect. Boom or bust, I'm a collector. It's in my blood. I'm hooked. There's no recovery for this addiction. I hope others will join me, whether this weekend or next month, in continuing to be inspired by art and supporting artist by buying their work.
In a future post I hope to share some great places to continue to collect some great art at great prices. Join me if and when you can...