Art Market - Andy Warhol


After decades of “anti-painting”, the market of works by certain artists who seemed to be unreachable starts to show signs of tiredness. To see so many unsold works by Fontana is as amazing as the constant increase in estimation prices that occurred in the past.

Manzoni and Boetti’s anti-painting does well and Burri is on the rise, although with some unsold works. Morandi does well too, and the interest in classical artists such as Vedova and Dorazio increases. There are some hints of a decreased interest in Arte Povera, Castellani and Bonalumi, who were not featured in auctions held in London last Autumn.

The collectors’ offers on certain great names, such as J. Koons and G. Richter, no longer match the high prices asked by auction houses. This suggests that the market is looking for other legends but, as of today, it is too soon to understand which trend will prevail and lay the grounds for the growth of authors who are less appreciated at the moment.

The speculative operators that can be favoured by the market need to find other spaces. I am well aware that it is the market that shapes trends and tastes, so I understand why it updates itself by including new models in the “catwalk” of auction catalogues.

The slow but safe growth of more traditional painting and, above all, the rediscovery of great twentieth-century masters is legitimate, and even though this happened because somebody forced this trend, all the lovers of this kind of painting would feel comforted.

Today, many artists choose to create performances in which the enjoyment of art is limited to the duration of the representation, except for photographs and videos, which can make these events last longer. We are now in the presence of a great novelty: time-based media works.

In an age when the usage and obsolescence of high-tech devices is programmed, and manufacturers are constantly on the look for new products, in order to grow their businesses or just to survive, art, too, is entering a stage based on impermanence. Digital and audiovisual works, as well as works made of perishable materials, will not last in time, and I suspect that they were devised as consumer goods by their authors.

Disposability is an achievement of consumerism, and since artists have to interpret the age and society they live in, present art reflects this system.

I am thinking art has two paths for the future. It can either move towards a most advanced expression of the idea of contemporary, in which fleetingness and consumerism will be more and more interconnected, and the production of works that can be enjoyed only for a short period of time will be promoted, or focus more consistently on the recovery of the masterpieces of tradition. Given the great variety of works created during the past century, those artists who are featured in history books are going to tread the second path.

Whatever contemporary artists will do in the present or the near future, certainly they will be unable to cancel from our memory or to replace those works of art that are already present in museums, and which have become part of our collective memory.

Luciano Zerbinati