The Art Perspective blog is a collection of thoughts, musings, and reflections on art, artists, and current happenings in the art world. 

Art as an Investment (part two)

Image courtesy of European CEO

Image courtesy of European CEO

Art has been emerging as a new asset class for the well-diversified across most countries and major cities for many years now. In markets like London, New York, and Hong Kong investors turn to auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's to add to their portfolios. Many others attend art fairs in prominent markets in Europe, Asia and in the United States acquiring key works from both established and emerging artists. Despite the global influence and recognition of the art market, Canada remains oddly absent from much of this discourse.

Unlike it's counterparts to the south, or across the pond Canadians have been slow to adopt art as a viable business sector, instead treating it like a poor cousin. Art is more than a nice-to-have cultural by-product, it is an essential element of our lives from the time we are born; it is in every aspect of our lives from design, and music to the visual stories and inspired works we see in theatres, galleries and museums. Where other countries have embraced art as an asset class and are benefitting from the diversification, our lack of adoption leaves us struggling to compete globally. As a result we continue to lose emerging artists to those larger markets where their work is being more effectively valued and sold. We recently interviewed a 24 year old artist, originally from Alberta, who has lived and continues to work abroad in Europe. When asked why he made the move his answer was simple - in Europe there was an appreciation for his work that wasn't matched in Canada. And while there are many examples of musicians or actors or other artists who have had to first find success in other markets before being celebrated back in Canada, many of the visual artists we lose, don't ever return home. It then behooves us as dealers, gallerists and patrons of the arts in Canada to ensure we aren't losing our best talent to other markets by evolving our thinking and approach to the art market as a whole.

As the global market continues to be volatile, more people may consider art as an investment where this was previously viewed as an asset class for a privileged few. Discerning investors and collectors are recognizing the value that can be realized from art market investments and are looking for ways to balance their portfolios and ensure long-term value. Detractors will always argue that the opaque nature of the art market makes determining values increasingly subjective and difficult, but with record selling prices from several of the auction houses this year alone, it isn't difficult to see why art as an investment makes more than a bit of sense.