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Predictions for the art world in 2021

25 January 2021

Predictions for the art world in 2021

Comments from Olyvia Kwok, Art Investor.

If you looked at the global art market figures for the second quarter of 2020 as an investor, you’d have been rather concerned. According to the UK finance and investment publication, Moneyweek, sales at the major auction houses including, Christies and Phillips, fell by a massive 97% in May alone as a result of the coronavirus restrictions. 

Although art galleries and auction houses are unlikely to return to how they used to be within 2021, the situation for the art world looks far from bleak for the coming year. These months have shown just how vital artistic expression is for the human spirit, the art community has drawn closer together and innovation has meant that art has opened its arms wider across the globe, embracing new artists, new markets and new ways of doing ‘business’.

With this in mind, art investor Olyvia Kwok shares her perspective on the current art market and her predictions for 2021.

1. The art market will enjoy a resurgence

Despite the challenges of the recent 12 months and the temporary changes to the way the global art scene operates, it’s likely to return to normal within the next few years, if not within the year. “The art market is like the stock market. It’s had a steady growth in the last two to three years, but now it’s reacting to all the recent uncertainties, i.e., COVID, Brexit, the US elections,” says Olyvia. “Overall, the market is fine – it has had a little pause.”

Many of these changes such as digital innovations, greater collaboration between artists and closer connection between galleries, artists and auction houses look set to stay and will shape the art world in future years.

2. Pop art will continue to grow in popularity

Although Pop Art first emerged in the 1950s with artists such as Andy Warhol and Richard Hamilton leading the way, it has enjoyed a resurgence over recent years. This looks set to grow over the coming year as younger consumers embrace this brightly coloured, vibrant and fun trend that embraces consumer culture across the generations.

“Phillips had an evening auction of what I call ‘short and sweet’ last week,” commented Olyvia. “All the art was fairly lower value; young, hip, trendy, pop culture, which I think is one of the biggest and fastest growing markets right now.”

3. Virtual auctions will become more commonplace

When the pandemic first struck, art galleries and auction houses realised that they needed to innovate in order to keep the industry healthy. As a result, both digital marketing and online auctions became more commonplace, reducing historical barriers to participation and allowing more artists to reach new audiences across the world.

According to Olyvia, these new tools and innovations are likely to boost consumer confidence: “So, you can use Zoom, FaceTime or even specially designed apps to bid if you can’t be there in person. This will help ‘consumer market confidence’ to return, especially after the summer.”


4. We will see greater diversity equality and representation in the art world

The Black Lives Matter protests and greater global awareness of systemic racism and underrepresentation of minority groups has brought issues of race, diversity and belonging back into the spotlight. As a result of this shift, several major museums have developed diversity plans and have started returning artifacts from the colonial era back to their rightful countries. Going forward, these issues will continue to be important and we will see a greater focus on non-white artists from around this world, continuing the work that Olyvia started with her 2019 exhibition that celebrated the friendship of Warhol and Basquiat.

Final thoughts

Despite the enormous changes that the art world saw in 2020, the future remains bright. Thanks to numerous innovations, digital technology, and a greater sense of unity within the community as a whole, the coming years look set to be more exciting than ever.


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