I can’t wait for 2010, because it must be better than 2009 for the art and antiques trade. If nothing else, there are changes and underground currents in the industry and wealth in general, that should have an effect on how and why these items are traded. As a matter of some economic thought, financial catastrophes push the evolution of money and its value.
The last year has been more than a challenge in our industry, and in particularly the decorative arts and furniture trade. This segment of the trade never really was influenced with a speculative impulse. When the Japanese speculation abandon the Impressionist market in the 1980’s the effect on fine arts was quite separate from a decorative arts market that was still thriving. This current economic storm has both decorative and fine arts in its grasp, but for different reasons.
In 2009, the decorative arts market realized that a speculative price has nothing to do with the lack of any demand. The churn of auctioneers and dealers was always a given, and the European/American pipeline was solid and time tested. Well, wake up to the New Year 2010! Selling this stuff now requires knowledge and not just money.
For some time, there has been a balance of supply of available inventory around the world; after all, we live in a world market economy where goods are everywhere on the globe. At the end of the day if you don’t have a demand you don’t have anything of value. That is why items of good quality, style, and even functionality, should not be worthless. With the Internet as the most powerful tool for distributing that information, the future certainly won’t go backward. So what other innovations are possible in 2010?
Well, we always have those gala art and antiques shows. There’s lots of glitz, high prices, and usually pretty good inventory on display. I would question why that format hasn’t worked in drawing significant public awareness to these markets. I would give more credit to the Antiques Road Show for creating mass appeal. It is also the impersonal set-up of cookie cutter displays that seem so dry and not as exciting as actually going in a shop. Shops are all so different in presentation and ambiance. For me, it is exciting and is part of the thrill of being introduced to new dealers, with their own knowledge and style of doing business. Perhaps next year we can make dealer shops the go to destination, as encouraged by the National Antiques Week in England.
The last part of my wish list for 2010 is for the creation of a dealer organization that understands and works for dealers towards improvements in the industry and its relationship with the public and government. The opportunities for every aspect of the industry next year are immense; it’s there for those in the industry who are imaginative and unconventional in reaching out to one’s inner passion to own and enjoy these things.