Follow the Money
A retrospective look at the art market and the fine art photography market, and its relevance to today’s market.
DATE: Saturday October 21, 2017
LOCATION: Society for Photographic Education Northwest Conference, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
DESCRIPTION: Except for, perhaps, the Paleolithic paintings of the Kondoa, Sulawesi and Lascaux caves, art has always been a commodity. Photography, in particular, was a pursuit of entrepreneurial inventors and businessmen long before the process of fixing an image had even been resolved. Once the Daguerreotype entered the public realm, a new industry was born and with it an array of possibilities relating to science, business, politics, advertising and art.
Why is this important? At a fundamental level, the basics of the art business are no different than any other time in history; the tools, mediums and tastes have changed, but the art market has patterns as well as cycles. The art world can be deliberately cloistered and the market mystifying for many. The aim of this lecture will be to demystify and illuminate based on my experience working at galleries, art fairs and as an art & photography appraiser. Many of the issues and topics addressed are relevant to many photographers and artists with with photography today.
This presentation will briefly review:
- The evolution of the art market in Europe.
- The motivations of invention and the birth of the photo industry.
- The “modern medium” and its acceptance as an art form.
- Snowballing of the photography market in the 1970s and 1980s, when there was a flourish of photography galleries in the US and major auction houses dedicated departments exclusively to photo.
- Top selling photographers and photographs—auction records and what’s interesting about the markets where those top tier prices were achieved.
- The current landscape of the fine art photography market, including a discussion of art fairs and online platforms.