x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

A cheaper Chagall?

A new approach in the art auction market, emphasising contemporary regional artists to attract a new generation of buyers, is to be welcomed.

The art market is not driven by aesthetics alone. In times of inflation, artworks keep their value; in times of unrest, they are fairly easy to hide or transport. But in times of economic anxiety they can be hard to sell at a profit.

True, the art world's superstars can always fetch big prices. Tycoons and deep-pocketed museums guarantee that. But in times like these the auction houses which make the market in the gamut of less-famous works are naturally driven to seek new avenues to profit.

And now one such avenue has led to the Emirates. The National reports today that Christie's Middle East plans a new sales format, already used by the company elsewhere in the world. On a night separate from the high-end sales, a "Part II" sale will feature contemporary artists from this region. The idea is to "encourage a new generation to buy at auction" by offering art investments with more manageable price tags.

Access to quality art, even during these times of economic malaise, is good for all. The auction format has worked for centuries; there's no reason it shouldn't work for a new generation of more frugal buyers too.