Art, market and crisis

In an article published in this blog on November 25th last year, entitled “The role of the collectors”, I quoted Michel Poitevin’s sentence : «there is no market without consumers  and no creation without the act of purchasing “.

I twisted this sentence in all directions to try and catch all the nuances, so I’m going to deliver now the conclusions to which I came.

In Europe as a whole, but in a more visible and dramatic manner in Southern Europe, we have gone through, we are living in, and we’ll continue to live a crisis, that began as a financial one, but which eventually ended up being economic, social and of a crisis of the society model.

This crisis, that had for main characteristics the explosion of debts and deficits, the rise of taxes, the shrinkage of credit, freeze of investments, and the decline of what we used to call ‘the Welfare state ‘-, took away lots of people, many models, many rules and many illusions.

As a result of this crisis, lots of people remain unemployed, many others see their income shrink, many young people loose hope and expectations, and we see reappearing shortages and poverty. Material poverty and human misery.

In this slump those who suffered most, and continue to suffer are middle classes, individual entrepreneurs, small businesses, independant and educated professionals and the average  savers. Public administrations and financial markets always require more, and have less and less to offer. They are about to crush those who are neither poor enough to live subsidized, nor rich enough to have the access to mechanisms of tax evasion.

These social groups, now seriously in danger, were an essential constituent of the market of art. They consituted the buffers which allowed artists and galleries and picture framers…to continue to exist. There are very few gallery owners who can earn a living through wealthy collectors, and on the other hand most of them exist and survive thanks to the market of educated art lovers, who could or who still can purchase works with affordable prices.

All this was upset. The crisis crushed the market of the art, in terms of number of transactions and turnover, and this contraction could be mortal to the duo “artist – gallery owner” as well as to the pursuit of quite a lot of art collections.

Here is thus how the crisis hits the world of the art. So, if somebody really wants to help the artists, it is necessary to make sure that a market exists, and this market needs  buyers. The rest is not more than public sponsorship, installations for museums, words gone with the wind, preaches full of good consciousness, and the vanity of a minority which establishes canons and modes and whose objective is to favour the interests of the happy few big collectors.

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