For those of you who follow my blog, you know that I've gone on and on and on and on about the robust art market and have frequently hypothesized that the market expansion is somewhat due to the huge amount data available to every rank and file collector on the planet.
Last Sunday's New York Times contained a very entertaining primer on bidding and buying at auction.
The article points out how auction data sites like art price and artnet are proving collectors with a wealth of information at the click of a mouse that only 10 years ago was difficult and often very expensive to obtain.
" But the art dealer Josh Baer, whose subscription-only newsletter, Baer Faxt, reports on the inner dealings of the art world, is skeptical of this data-driven “illusion of transparency.” Database users focus too much on precedent, he says, and ignore other factors, like the condition of that particular piece. “They think they have so much more information, when in fact they’re over-informed but undereducated.” "
Presumably Mr. Baer's $149-a-year newsletter-by-email will take care of the undereducated part.
The big auction houses seem to know better. With every passing year, they are becoming more and more adept at accurately and quickly communicating all available data to a potential collector. You can get condition reports with the click of a mouse. Mr. Baer may find himself comfortably snuggled into the art world insider's lounge, but the young collectors of today become the power players of tomorrow and these new players have always lived their life in front of some kind of glowing monitor and will continue to do so.
Despite all my defensiveness, after nearly two decades of collecting I generally find myself wanting to see the work in person before I buy, so I signed up for the free sample of Mr. Baer's newsletter. I'm sure he knows a thing or fifty that I don't!