Artsy’s Art Industry Trends 2023 was released to identify the art genres that generate the most revenue for galleries and the key factors affecting the contemporary art industry.
Artsy’s Art Industry Trends 2023 was released to identify the art genres that generate the most revenue for galleries and the key factors affecting the contemporary art industry. The report surveyed 886 gallery professionals and dealers from 85 countries online between March and April 2023.
With 41% of respondents being U.S.-based galleries, the report best reflects trends in the U.S. art industry. However, given that the U.S. is still the world’s largest art market, understanding the U.S. art market is an important resource for evaluating the current global market and predicting possible trends in the Korean art market.
The most important art genre for gallery sales: abstract paintings
The most important contemporary art genres for gallery sales were paintings, especially non-figurative ones. Abstract paintings were the most popular choice at 44%, followed by expressive figurative works at 28%. Realist figurative works were the third highest at 17%. Landscape paintings followed at 12%, conceptual art at 10%, contemporary surrealist paintings at 9%, minimalist works at 7%, followed by street art, neo-abstract expressionist paintings, and landscape photography at 5% each.
Figurative painting was found to be more prominent online. Respondents without an exhibition space selected expressive figurative painting as the most important genre, while those with an exhibition space chose abstract painting as the most important.
While 76% responded that painting was the most important genre for sales today, all genres of painting were judged as slightly less likely to be important in the future. Queer art, video art, and Afrofuturism were the areas that are currently less important in gallery sales but are expected to become increasingly important in the future.
In South Korea, the Korea Arts Management Service (KAMS) released its Analysis of Korean Millennial and Generation Z Art Collectors in the second half of 2022. The report surveyed 1,361 Korean art collectors to investigate collector trends in Korea.
The Analysis of Korean Millennial and Generation Z Art Collectors found that while paintings are the most popular art genre across all generations in Korea, average Millennial and Gen Z buyers (MZ collectors) are less focused on paintings and more likely to purchase drawings than older generations due to their limited incomes.
In addition, all generations in Korea show a preference for Korean artists, but top MZ collectors, who spend 50 million KRW or more per artwork, were relatively more likely to purchase works by international artists, particularly those from Europe and the U.S., as well as blue-chip Korean artists.
When the Korean collectors were asked what artwork they would like to purchase in the future, MZ collectors said they hoped to acquire works from young and emerging artists and international artists, especially artists from Western countries. Top MZ collectors particularly preferred works by blue-chip, international, younger artists and preferred visually compelling works that were immediately understandable.
The research has shown that new, younger collectors tend to be more pop-art oriented and prefer contemporary works by artists their own age.
Online Channels Still Going Strong
Online art sales and channels have flourished during the pandemic. There was a significant increase in the volume of online art sales in 2020 and 2021, and most respondents predicted that sales through online channels would decrease as the physical art world largely returned to its pre-pandemic state.
However, Artsy’s survey showed that online sales are still growing or stable. The largest group of respondents, 38%, said their online sales increased in 2022 compared to 2021, while 34% said their online sales were about the same.
Describing online buyers, 51% of respondents said that most were new to them, and only 12 % were collectors they already knew, making online selling a useful channel for connecting with new collectors.
Those who displayed the price of their artwork on online channels reported better sales performance, while those who did not and only shared prices by request reported that their online sales mainly remained the same. When asked about the source of their increased sales, 45% said “online marketplaces/e-commerce,” 32% said “Instagram,” 31% said “in-person conversations,” and 25% said “email conversations.”
In the case of the Korean survey of MZ collectors, average MZ collectors are more likely to gather information about artworks through online communities, influencers, and other online sources compared to older generations. However, average MZ collectors were less likely to purchase works through Korean online auctions but more likely to purchase works at in-person art fairs.
In the case of top MZ collectors, they responded that they preferred to consult with professionals and purchase works through international channels, such as overseas galleries or online auctions.
Artwork price increases due to inflation
In 2022, the rise in interest rates caused by the global economic crisis significantly impacted the art market, driving up the price of works of art. Forty-one percent of respondents chose inflation as the most influential factor in art pricing.
For galleries in the primary market, 66% reported a significant or slight price increase, and only 25% reported no change. For galleries focusing on the secondary market, 46% said they experienced price increases, and 29% said there was no change.
Thirty-two percent attributed the price increase to increased demand for their work on the secondary market, while 27% attributed it to a lack of available artwork.
Artsy speculated that this is because the prices of works by popular young, trendy, ultra-contemporary artists continue to rise. Other factors contributing to the price increase include artist fees, shipping costs, and currency exchange rates.
Discovering new artists through networking
Networking was shown to be important for galleries in finding new artists, with 51% of respondents saying they had found new artists through other artists. This was followed by 44% of respondents who used Instagram to discover artists. Newer galleries (less than three years old) were more likely to use Instagram to discover artists.
Younger galleries are more likely to deal with younger collectors and have more diverse sales channels. Of these new galleries, 59% said the 35-55 age group was the primary group that drove their art sales. Only 19% of new galleries selected the 55+ age group as their primary age group for sales.
Of galleries that have been in business longer, 41% of respondents said that the 55+ age group drives the most artwork sales. This doesn’t mean the 35-55 age segment was less influential. Of galleries older than four years, 46% said the 35-55 age segment had the biggest impact on their sales.
Of galleries that sell mostly secondary market works, 34% showed interest in blue-chip artists and 29% in 20th-century artists. But of galleries that sell mostly primary market works, mid-career/established artists ranked highest at 36%, and 35% were interested in ultracontemporary artists.