The Art Price Global Index suggests that the art market started to turn at the middle of the year, but it's going to take the autumn art season to confirm whether this is a false positive or the start of a new trend. Maybe the slight improvements in economic conditions are leading to more art market confidence (and spending), or perhaps they're just sick to death of being in a slump.
Art prices increased by 4.97 percent at the end of the second quarter, according to the Art Price Global Index. This comes after the index fell a total of 30 percent from the start of 2008. The collective will of art collectors, dealers and auctioneers probably won't be enough to change the art world, but it could happen at the same time. The Art Market Confidence Index gained 20 points during the second quarter, supporting the notion that we're all ready for this to be over.
It was still a tough quarter for Post-War and Contemporary artwork, which saw prices drop nine percent and four percent, respectively. But, the rest of the art market has fared better, thanks in large part to the increase in the number of affordable works brought under the gavel. So far this year, 79 percent of pieces sold for less than €5,000, up from 73 percent in 2008. Paintings and multiples declined, as well, by 31 percent and 41 percent, respectively, since 2008. With 4 percent and 5 percent price drops in the second quarter of 2009, their prices have returned to 2004 levels.
But, the summer's pretty quiet for the art market. We won't be able to confirm a recovery until the fall auction season begins. Then, we'll know if wallets are ready to be opened and stay that way for a while.