In this post, the Canberra based art historian Sasha Grishin outlines the changes in the art world. Restricting himself to the primary art market Grishin says that this market was a traditional part of the traditional infrastructure for selling art, but now it is failing to do this.
Grishin says that:
"The traditional structure for selling art in Australia is through a commercial art gallery that picks up fresh talent, and then through the auspices of a newspaper art critic who promotes it to an art buying audience...[However]... In the 21st century, this 19th-century system of marketing and promoting contemporary art is seriously breaking down and the number of commercial art galleries in Australia has roughly halved over the past couple of decades."
He adds that patron visitation rates are poor and, outside exhibition openings many galleries report minimal visitors a day. People complain that they are time-poor and are more likely to visit a gallery online, than participate in the dying ritual of the weekly art gallery crawl. Online sales have not been seriously explored.
Grishin says that the sad conclusion is that, though the interest in art has increased, the commercial art galleries in Australia are not delivering a product that the art consuming public wants. Current existing mechanisms for marketing Australian art on the primary market are under severe strain as the traditional commercial art gallery model has broken down.
Furthermore the problem with the marketing of Australian art, or the marketing of art in Australia, is that it largely remains a provincial exercise within a global art environment. In the second decade of the 21st century, it is a global market place. and we need to trade globally. It is a matter of distance and scale that stops the commercial art galleries getting Australian art into the international circuit of art fairs and the international art market.