prtothetrade

The New Collectors are Alive & Well in Miami

In Art and the American Way, Art business, business, Cool Exhibitions, events, Young Collectors on December 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Found: The Young Collectors

SOUTH BEACH, FL.  I’m feeling a bit like Archimedes this morning, having made a discovery that answers the question antiques and decorative arts dealers have been asking, mantra-like: “Where are all the young collectors?”

The only reason I’m not shouting “Eureka” is because the news is not particularly good. The young collectors have been leeched away from the decorative arts and antiques market by something more meaningful to them.  That something is contemporary art and artists.

Everything you have ever read or heard about the art market and the commercial fairs in Miami is true. There are thousands of young shoppers here and they are doing what antique collectors used to do. They are buying.

Yesterday, I spent about 11 hours at Red Dot, Art Asia and Scope, three big shows of contemporary art that complement Art Basel Miami.

I have interviewed dealers and artists. I have heard collectors make strategic decisions about how they will cover the shows and make their purchasing decisions.

I have been given the same “take-home” material the buyers get – everything from traditional catalogs to flash drives. I have been greeted and sold by entrepreneurs in their 30s, who reel off auction records and big name collectors as proof of the investment value of the art they selling.

And I have been jostled by dozens of tee shirt / cargo short clad buyers who look like they can’t afford bus fare.  I’ve met couples that work the shows in teams, splitting up to cover the vast number of offerings at the fairs.

By the time they arrive, they already know what sort of things they’re looking for. If they are budget conscious, they’re looking for buys under $10,000. (Cheapest pieces I’ve seen run around $8,500 for a work of art by a mid-career artist.)

Parisian Dealer with International Artist Roster

It's All About Investments

As one young and highly successful dealer told me, “It’s all about investments.”

When decorative arts and antiques dealers can figure out a way to compete with the energy level that the contemporary art market generates, the market may begin to look up for them as well. Until then, you’ll find your audience in Miami, in Switzerland, in Singapore, in Mexico City – following the contemporary art circuit.

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  1. Exactly! I’ve noticed this too. If you go to an antiques show it’s the opposite, very few people are under 40. People like to see themselves as hip, young, trendy. Antiques aren’t giving people that feeling. Art Basel isn’t just the shows, it’s the parties, the whole energy of the event. They see antiques as belonging to their parents generation. I think part of this is also display. Art Basel is full of white walls, spare lines, bright colors. Antique shows are often more softly lit, booths are very cluttered, it can seem dated.

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