I want to be the first to go on record to say that the existing strength of the art market will continue through 2005 and for several years to come. Why am I so bullish on the art market? There now exists an unprecedented transparency and accessibility to the art market that has never existed before in history. This is largely due to the Internet and the extremely efficient shipping companies. In short, the art market is starting to behave like a real market. This will bring more and more new buyers to the market and demand will outstrip supply for the next several years.
I concede that the highest end of the market where pieces sell for in excess of $100,000 is still a somewhat closed society, but that segment of the market is a small percentage of the overall sales that occur in a year.
I'm a small-potatoes collector but in 2004 I bought work from Tokyo, Berlin, London, Toronto, New York, San Francisco and of course, Atlanta. This would have been nearly impossible even 5 years ago and completely impossible 10 years ago. Dealers are more willing to sell to a broader market and even casual collectors have access to market information that previously was far more difficult to obtain. For example, I know what every Vik Muniz at every auction house IN THE WORLD sold for in 2004!
This all boils down to the inescapable fact that the art market is really starting to look and behave like a real market and not like a closed "club" of dealers and collectors who have inside access. Its true that you may not be able to buy the next Inka Essenhigh from 303 Gallery if you are not "on the list", but with the increasingly rapid turnover of artwork at auction, most likely a collector will have several opportunities to acquire one in the next few years.
With art investment funds debuting in 2005 it appears that more and more people share my belief. Naysayers are not acknowledging the sea change that's occurring in the way art is bought and sold today.