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A sign that we’re entering into a danger zone in the art market is the increasing occurrence of ‘non-linearity’, or sudden, unexpected deviations in the art world’s fundamental economic order.

Linearity is defined as progressing from one stage to another in a single series of sequential steps, as in the procession of price points over an extended period of time that aligns progressively getting higher and higher over time. That’s not to say the queue is a straight line, but over time the line progressively increases along a somewhat predictable boundary. Non-linearity is works that markedly or drastically increase (or decrease) in market value in a relatively short or abbreviated time period.

What is the current art market positioned to accomplish.

Begin with the dealers who are always looking for the newly recognized gems. These can be works a decade old or a century old and older. The dealer, or agent, sets out to discover the ‘new’ artists and the artworks that value-seekers are looking for and are willing to pay top speculative dollar for. Artists who predominate in this market are usually secondary artists whose works are building both dealer reputations and content value equally.

Second come the collectors. Collectors are the accumulators of works that make a unified and combined statement about not only the works of art but about the collectors as well by identifying established but under-valued artists and establishing the reputation of the collector and the collection.

At the top of the market are the connoisseurs. Specialists looking for the value price point but also looking for the one work that adds not only its value as a single unit but also extends to the unit or body of works already owned by the collector. The classic connoisseur is trying to discern the over-looked modern and historical masters whose works will increase in projected value into the foreseeable future.

Numerous articles written of late highlight artworks that were bought a mere three to five years ago that are back on the market at double and triple their original sale points. Dealers who acquired artist’s estates and marketed a portion of the estate to establish a baseline price point, but often retained a quiet handful of polished works to run on the market at a later price appreciated date. Collectors who reaped the benefits of holding recognized works that established credibility for their collection cashing in earlier less demanding works relative to the whole of the collection. And lastly, connoisseurs fine tuning holdings and stocking cash for known future acquisitions.

What is the current art market positioned to accomplish: Presenting a variety of attractively valued works and at a sell-through rate well above pre-sale expectations. What is it that is not being said: The Birth of the Sylph.

But that’s for another article to decipher.

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*  Positive Instability, Pt. 1


About the Author

Lawrence Klepper

Lawrence Klepper

As an artist, Gallery Management Instructor, Gallery Director, Independent Curator, and Special Exhibitions Coordinator for City art museums, college art galleries, and commercial galleries in Califor...