The Art Market as defined by some book.

So. Course readings. You would think that as an MA student of art administration, that certain things wouldn’t need to be explained. Like for instance, what a curator is, a critic, a connoisseur or particularly the artist. However, I guess it is better to never assume anything – even if this means a lot of page flipping. In this page flipping, I found a great chart of the art market. (there were many charts, but this one, more of a list actually, was the best!) So here it is, how you divide up artwork?

Alpha: gilts or treasury notes, high quality art of dead artists. Old master paintings, the best modern and highest quality Asian art and antiques. Exclusively second market with considerable and certain resale and investment value. Proprietors: Collector-connoisseurs, businessmen (former merchant-bakers or speculators), amateur dealers who may choose, for tax reasons, to operate at a loss.

Beta: blue chip securities, highest quality contemporary art, exclusively second market with highly potential resale and investment value. Proprietors: Businessmen (financial services), amateur dealers who may choose for tax reasons, to operate at a loss.

Gamma: index-linked bonds and futurers, works of art that may prove worthless or ascend to the beta level. Proprietors: Artist dealers and intellectuals.

Delta: junk bonds, i.e. worthless unit value of art, with significant aggregate value but no resale value. Oil paintings, sculptures and low value (often damaged) antiques. Proprietors: souvenir merchants and tourist memorabilia sellers, parkrailing merchants, art supermarket and warehouse salesmen.

(taken from Understanding International Art Makerts and Management by Iain Robertson)

So, what was the point? you might be wondering. Now for that to come across, come with me on an imaginary journey. Picture this: me. sitting at my kitchen table. reading on google books, thinking why am I reading this stuff. Alpha, yes. Blue chip, beta, uhuh. Reading chart, reading chart. Get to gamma. Interesting term and then here, in this quick second you find why I’m bothering to spend time writing about this book. Gamma art, Proprietors: Artist dealers and intellectuals. That just gets me right there. Who wants to sell art that may have no value? The intellectual of course! And funny that this should be the only mention of the intellectual in the art selling market. Funny that they mention the mysterious category of intellectuals at all, because last time I remember the list of public intellectuals wasn’t that long. Go ahead, try and name some. I’m coming up short, but thats just natural. And the artist of course, the artist would take a risk on art that may not go anywhere. Its just fantastic. So there we get to my part of the art selling world. The land of aesthetic philosophy and faith in what we love. I love how it gets just stuck in this chart like an after thought, or an aftertaste of appreciation if you will.


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