The traditional value of a modern artwork, in the most basic, linear economic terms, was created by high demand and shortage in supply. High prices corresponded to exclusivity, scarcity and desire. Art became inherently unique due to its limited availability at any given time.
This linear economic thinking hinders the inclusive quality of art and restricts its accessibility.
However, in contemporary culture we find several additional factors need to be considered in an exhaustive explanation of financial trends in art.
Today’s artists, such as the now celebrity figure of Marina Abramovic, have spread the scope of art, changing the ways in which it can be valued. Performance and public projects render art more experience- than object-based and as a result, rather than being reduced to an intrinsic, static price, art holds longer-term remuneration around the artists themselves.
A recent survey from the wealth management department of Bank of America highlights the differences between the approach of younger art collectors compared with those before them.
The study suggests that millennials now focus more on aesthetic, intellectual and content-based principles than on trends, exclusivity and intrinsic pricing.
Progressing from the linear economic thought, investment in art has become increasingly cyclical. Art is an asset ‘expected to increase in value over time’, where short-term importance has not been replaced but rather augmented by long-term view-points.
‘Younger collectors have grown up in an ecosystem of art as part of the global experience economy’. Millennials invest differently, and the art world must react to this change in consumer culture.
Self-made businessmen, entrepreneurs and tech gurus are motivated and accustomed to networking and hustle. They are more proactive, looking for interactive events that sell experience, participation and dynamic involvement. They appreciate first-hand, personal access, preferring to buy directly from artist studios or artist-led events. They feed on the energy and high pace they live by, looking for thrills and the consistent potential for the discovery of new or maturing talent.
Younger collectors tend to gravitate towards unusual materials, looking to learn more about the artist in question, their creative processes, intentions and career trajectories. Risk is rewarded rather than rejected.
The pejorative consideration of ‘art flippers’, a term coined to refer to those who invest in short-term collecting, can be re-interpreted through a different perspective. The sale of works can be re-invested into the acquisition of another: a healthy, constant way to ensure the expansion of the art market and public interest.
Millennials want to do their own research, connect to the right people and identify with the artist as well as their work. Collectors look to feel a close affinity with the artists whose work they collect. They pursue artists who connect with the culture that surrounds them, those who give a visual voice to the events, contexts and surroundings that we share: artists that make an impact on our world.
This new wave doesn’t just want to buy art, they want to learn about it. Demand for art programmes, workshops and events has increased. Art becomes integrated in our existing lifestyles rather than segregated as mere accessory.
Melt week capitalises on these changes. It brings art to the people. The artist projects are intelligent, profound and insightful – they express our experiences without distancing us from them. The investments they require are re-injected into the financial market rather than disappear into a static sale. It encourages immediate participation in art whilst maintaining high standards. The event facilitates expansion and will incorporate wider and wider audiences on a yearly basis.