Monday, November 30, 2015   

Art pillar needs solid foundation

Monday, November 05, 2012

A striking feature of our art industry is that even though the market has grown exponentially over the past decade, reaping in billions and billions in revenue year after year, it remains by and large unregulated.

Prices, authenticity and standards are all determined from within the art world itself, without much interference from, or reporting to, the government.

Regulation of the art market is different from other industries. Unlike stocks, the price or "value" of an artwork is difficult to calculate against any independent measure.

It depends more on intangibles like the pleasure and pride of owning a painting, whether it came from a prominent collection or collector, whether it is seen as a marker of social status, as well as subjective and emotional connections to a particular piece.


It is also challenging to predict whether an artist will have long-term market importance, or even canonical significance, particularly in an age where the market is constantly delivering new artists.

As such, a universal regulatory set of governing laws has proven difficult to formulate, and the situation will likely remain so. It must also be said that many of those within the art trade thrive on and prefer the current system.

They hold an ask-no-questions - insider dealing is part and parcel of the trade - mentality that has contributed to the continuous growth of the art market, even while the global economy was on the brink of collapse.

A critical pillar of the self-regulating market is scholarship. This, by traditional definition, is an independent research, review and analysis of key art trends and achievements, providing proof of provenance and professional expertise behind an artist's critical reception and their market value.

As the art business continues to expand and globalize, its long-term sustainable growth depends on ensuring and supporting high- quality, uncorrupted, reliable and accessible scholarship.

Architectural critic Nicholas Ho and art historian Stephanie Poon don't always see eye to eye.

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