Global art market - Global - Visual Arts
Tag : auctions

Relative to the global market for visual art, the Australian market is small. In 2011, Australian auction sales represented 0.6% of the total global auction market.

China is emerging as the largest visual arts market in the world in terms of auction sales, recording $5 billion in 2012 (41% of the global auction market) – highlighting big opportunities for Australia in the future.

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The global art auction market is valued at over $12 billion, led by the US, China and the UK markets

In 2012, global art auctions generated $12.269 billion, of which $5.068 billion was generated in China and $7.2 billion in the rest of the world

Accounting for 41 percent of the global share, China has the largest share of global fine art auction turnover in 2012. The next largest markets – the USA and UK trail behind with 27 percent and 18 percent of turnover share respectively.[1]

Australia is emerging as a player on the art auction scene. While 2012 revenue was estimated by Artprice at $82 million,[2] this represents an increase on 2004 revenue.

[1]   Indexed auction records are based on Fine Art and Design catalogued auctions (paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, prints, watercolors, etc) recorded by artprice.com, except antiques and furniture.

[2]   Note some differences in reported auction turnover for Australia exist between Artprice and Australia Art Sales Digest due to differences in definition and auction houses included in analysis.

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Australia’s secondary market is small relative to the size of our economy

Art auction sales contribute considerably more to the GDP for the UK and China than Australia.

Despite growth over the years, Australia is still in the early stages with fine art auction revenue contributing to only 0.005 percent of GDP. In comparison, the secondary market is four time in Switzerland, relative to the size of its economy.

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China is emerging as the largest visual arts market in terms of auction sales

China has been the leading global art auction market since 2010, with 41 percent market share in 2012 ($5.07 billion).[1]

This is $1.7 billion higher than the USA (in second place, with 27percent of global art sales) and $2.9 billion ahead of the UK (in third place, with 18percent of global art sales).

However after the rapid growth of 49 percent between 2010 and 2011, visual art auction sales in China increased more slowly (6 percent)  from 2011 to 2012. Despite this slower growth, auction sales in China continue to make up half of the top ten highest grossing artists worldwide.

[1]   Indexed auction records are based on Fine Art and Design catalogued auctions (paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, prints, watercolors, etc) recorded by artprice.com, except antiques and furniture.

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Paintings and drawings represent 96 percent of auction turnover globally

According to Artprice, paintings and drawings garner higher average prices at auction compared with sculpture, print and photographic works.

In 2010, it estimated that paintings and drawings accounted for 69 percent of lots sold, but 96 percent of auction turnover globally.

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The majority of European auction sales relate to Modern art, but Contemporary and Post-war sales are growing

Sales of Modern art works represent 48 percent of the European visual art auction market. Artprice reports that in 2012 Modern works sold at auction generated over $3 billion in revenue.

Contemporary and Post-war works generate an increasing share of the market. Between 2000 and 2012, sales of Contemporary and Post-war works increased from 11 percent to 34 percent of European auction turnover.

Sales of ‘Old masters’ and ‘19th Century’ works have decreased over time, respectively accounting for just 8 and 11 percent of the market in 2012.

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Secondary market - Industry - Visual Arts

Sales of works at auction reached $95 million in 2012 – around five times the market in 1991

Auction sales of visual art works in Australia reached around $95 million in 2012. These sales are understood to relate mainly to the secondary market, in which artworks are resold, and include contemporary and heritage works.[1]

Sales at auction have experienced strong growth since the 1980s – peaking at $175 million in 2007. Since 2007, total sales have fluctuated between $88 million and $115 million annually, and they remain more than 5 times the size of the market in 1991.

Australian auction turnover includes sales of works by non-Indigenous Australian artists (83 percent), Australian Indigenous artists (8 percent), and overseas artists (9 percent).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art sales have stabilised around $8.2 million, after four consecutive year of decline.  Sales remain well below the record total of $26.4 million set in 2007.

[1]   The primary market is made up of works being sold for the first time – usually in a commercial gallery.

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Speculation by investors fuels price fluctuation in the secondary market

Between 1998 and 2011, the average price of works sold at auction increased markedly. Prices peaked in 2007, with the average price of works sold reaching $15,000 (64 percent higher than the 2006 average of $9,138).

Commentators suggest that speculation by investors led to a ‘market aberration’ in 2007.

Sales have since returned to pre-2007 levels. After the economic downturn in 2008, sales grew between 2009 and 2010, before stabilising in 2011 and 2012.

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Sales of Indigenous visual arts and craft has decreased since the Global Financial Crisis, after several decades of growth

The visual arts sector provides a significant source of income for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, particularly for those living in remote areas where employment opportunities are limited.

Figures compiled by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) suggest that the sector experienced strong growth over 1979–2007. However, since 2007, there has been a decline in the average revenue generated by Indigenous visual arts organisations, including remote arts centres.

Based on a review of financial reports lodged by the 101 corporations registered as making and selling Indigenous art, ORIC reports that between 2007-08 and 2010-11 the average revenue[1] generated by Indigenous visual arts organisations fell by 52 percent from almost $390,000 to $186,000 per organisation.

Whilst there is no conclusive information about the number of art centres, ORIC reports that this period saw a gradual decrease in the proportion of Indigenous organisations generating more than $500,000 in art sales revenue and an increase over time in the number earning no revenue at all.

Auction sales figures confirm that the total revenue generated through the public auction of Indigenous art fell 69 percent from $26.5 million in 2007 to just over $8 million in 2012 – a more marked decline than that experienced by other Australian art.

Declining sales in this area may be linked with the strong performance of the Australian dollar since 2009-10, which has affected the buying power of overseas visitors.

[1] Revenue from art sales refers to the amount directly generated from the sale of artworks, before expenses are taken into consideration.

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