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Art market 2022: what happened?

Here are the 5 market trends to take with us into 2023

Written by
January 9, 2023

The year 2022 has recently come to a close, so it is time to draw conclusions.

What are the market trends that have characterized this year? In this article we look at 5 of them.

1. The boom and flop of the NFT market.

In early 2022, NFTs promised to be the new frontier of the art world. Finally a way to democratize and make the market more transparent. In March, Bored Ape Yacht Club founders Yuga Labs acquired CryptoPunks and Meebits, creating an NFT behemoth, while many NFT artists used profits from their works to support war efforts in Ukraine. Meanwhile, many galleries around the world have also noticed this new trend and moved to cater to this new wave of collectors.

In May then came the flop!

Or rather, the decline.

Many people were just waiting to say: I said it!

The truth is that much of the flop was caused by the implosion of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange. and as a result, much of the brilliance of blockchain-based works had been depleted by the huge collapse in cryptocurrency prices, which worsened over the course of the year.

However, this has not intimidated the art world bigwigs so much that Christie's, for example, announced its shiny new platform, Christie's 3.0, in conjunction with Miami Art Week.

We will see what 2023 holds for cryptos and NFTs. I am very curious!

2. Charity auctions on the rise

The year 2022 saw the emergence of a new motivation among established collectors: collecting for charity.

Not only during the early months between February and March were so many auctions held to donate the proceeds in support of Ukraina, but even the more established artists themselves donated some of their works to support their own peoples caught up in fighting and wars.

The most exemplary case was artist Salman Toor (an American of Pakistani descent) who donated all the proceeds from the sale of his work 4 Guests during a Christie's auction to a charity that provides relief to flood victims in Pakistan. With a price tag of $856,800, the work sold for nearly four times its estimate.

In general, this trend of charitable auctions coincides with a desire on the part of collectors to focus their purchases on marginalized communities, such as BIPOC, women, or LGBTQ+ artists. In fact, more and more collectors are prioritizing sustainability when purchasing artworks.

3. Abstract wins in 2022

While 2021, the year after the pandemic, had been the year for figurative works, in 2022 there was a boom in demand for abstract works. Record sale prices were reached at auction for abstract genre works, just as during the biggest art fairs, works with geometric, monochromatic shapes were the most sold and acclaimed. Who knows whether in 2023, too, the abstract genre will be confirmed in first place as the most popular.

4. Market boom for ultra-contemporary artists

In 2022 most of the blue chip galleries (if you don't know what that means I suggest you read about it here) began representing artists born in the 1990s. White Cube, for example, with Danica Lundy (class of 1991), Louise Giovanelli (class of 1993), Ilana Savdie, and Marguerite Humeau (both class of 1986) Gagosian, for its part with Jadé Fadojutimi (class of 1993) and Anna Weyant (class of 1995); Earlier this year, Rococo-inspired painter Flora Yukhnovich, born in 1990 and represented by Victoria Miro since 2021, set a new sales record: $3.1 million at auction.

Never more than in this case is it clear that the ultra-contemporary market is booming.

5. New light to surrealism

Opening at the end of 2021 at the Met in New York, hosted in Europe at the Tate Modern in London until August 2022, the exhibition "Surrealism Beyond Borders" confirms the interest on the part of the art world's most important institutions to give voice and light to one of the artist movements that characterized the last century by offering a reconsideration of both the movement and its lesser-known artists.

It is no coincidence that the 2022 Venice Biennale with the exhibition "The Milk of Dreams" curated by Cecilia Alemani also foregrounded the subconscious, the mythical and the spectral through a list of surrealist women.

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