centerlogobigAAD logo


What has happened to the Vanishing Middle Market and what does that have to do with the old and proven processes of “intellectual legitimation” that once defined experiencing and purchasing fine art. Where has the so-called middle market been transfixed in the last ten years; China for starters, South East Asia, primarily the Hong Kong market, and Africa on a much smaller scale but the market is developing none the less.


Lest we move to far to fast let’s stop and define what exactly are we talking about.

First, the [fill in the appropriate word, style, period] middle market, the ill-defined ground where artworks start at low five-figures estimates and go upwards of $90,000+ depending on the buyer/collector’s willingness and disposable income.

Intellectual legitimation, on the other hand, is the longstanding process whereby the intellectual, and therefore knowledgeable art professional, defines an artwork to be important, consequential or significant, and can point with confidence to established historical collaboration or provenance defining it as a valuable artwork.

Affordable Art

There is another concept, often hidden and unspoken, that affordable art is mediocre art. If it doesn’t cost that much then it cannot be all that good in the first place. The end result is that artworks become objects defined as affirmative assets with aesthetic capital and is therefore legitimized by affluent society.

A Prophecy

Serious buyers and collectors expect to purchase acuity, standing and an affinity with the object and the market through the price. The price becomes a self-fulfilling, self-justifying, and the likelihood that the validity of the buyer’s insightfulness and shrewdness will pay off down the line.

Price is what the buyer sees, whereas value is what the collector sees.

Screen Shot 2016 03 24 at 11.18.29

You may also like to read:

* Bad guys bedevil the Art Market

* On Artnet

* A Message For Michael Bruno

* 1st Dibs, Restraint of Trade?

* The Best Bits from Burning Man

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...