Red Earth VI by Hughie O’Donoghue sold for a hammer price of 28,000 at Morgan O’Drsicoll
In 2016 the most notable antique and art market trends are an increasing use of online bidding and a growth in younger, wealthy buyers. This will impact on taste in the year to come.
In Ireland younger buyers new to a market are that has been dominated for what seems like forever by Yeats, Henry, Orpen, Lavery et al are more likely to opt for more cutting edge contemporary work into the future. The most expensive artwork sold in the winter season of Dublin art sales was a pastel on paper entitled 1.6.92 by Sean Scully which made 165,000 at hammer at de Veres.
Research by art and antiques search engine aggregator Barnebys – covering 1,600 auction houses carrying half a million objects at any one time – shows that about 35% of bids now come in over the internet. Millennials are logging on to buy, instead of searching the high street. Growth by younger buyers is anticipated. The environmental aspect of buying at auction – upmarket recycling – appeals in particular to this segment. Another consequence of the internet is that auctioneers are making huge savings by cutting back on the number of catalogues they print, using online catalogues instead.
This year the market performed strongly at the top. Auctioneers are increasingly focused on the middle and lower markets. Unique items – think of Marilyn Monroe’s Happy Birthday Mr. President dress making $4 million on the hammer at Juliens – are achieving prices not seen since 1990 and before the 2008 crash. The middle market is struggling but the lower end is growing, thanks to the internet.
The real excitement for new investors in emerging art markets is in contemporary African and Indian art, Latin American art and Cuban art. Barneby’s predicts that there will be an increasing focus on African art, and this will include sculpture. In terms of auction results right now artists from South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana are leading the pack.
Globally the hunt is on for female artists. Gallery owners, dealers and museums will place great emphasis on finding new artists and the best works by artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, Irma Stern and Frida Kahlo. These four already enjoy high profiles and achieve strong prices at auction.
Another growth area is 20th century design. Demand has been growing since the late 1990’s and it is expected that this will continue.