The Art Market: Cautionary Sales

Posted filed underArt Market, News, Russia.

Russian galleries close, Art London bites the dust, and sales of Middle Eastern and Arab art in Dubai dip.

“Bad news for Russian contemporary art: three of Moscow’s leading art galleries are closing. Citing plummeting sales, Aidan, Marat Guelman and XL are shuttering at the end of this month”, writes The Financial Times. “All three galleries have an international profile and exhibit in major art fairs outside Russia. But inside the country, says Marat Guelman, “The main clients of the gallery are leaving Russia. More and more rich people are affiliated with the state, or they are its representatives such as state bureaucrats. These people are careful to hide their income, and collecting contemporary art is not one of their priorities.”

Guelman will keep his Winzavod space as a non-commercial enterprise. As for XL, a stalwart of Frieze, Basel and Basel Miami Beach, it is also transitioning to a non-commercial format.

Aidan Salakhova, an artist in her own right, is also keeping her space in Winzavod but will turn it into a studio. She says her total profit for the gallery in 2011 was $60,000 and that, unlike elsewhere, the Russian art market never recovered from the 2008-09 financial crisis. She has had more success as an artist, having sold three pieces at the Venice Biennale last year; they went to a Russian collector for €200,000 and she has now been signed on by Dubai’s Cuadro gallery.

With names such as Roman Abramovich known as big art buyers, it may seem surprising that there is so little support for the domestic market, but he and other super-rich Russians have moved to buying international names.

One good outcome of the closures, says Salakhova, is that “Our decisions have acted like a wake-up call to the Russian authorities, they are asking what they can do to support us by, for example, paying for participation at art fairs. So maybe there will be change in the future.”

Read on at The Financial Times

Image above from Aidan Salakhova