I have mixed feelings about the success of Art & Objects NZ art auction last evening.
It featured most of the greats including a number of works by Gordon Walters, Shane Cotton etc.
Whilst it is great to see the secondary or investment market in art thriving it is this sort of risk averse cookie cutter collecting that impacts on the primary market (today) and in the future.
Apart from a few contemporary (living) artists most of the "good stuff" was being sold by long term collectors and estates, very little if any of this money goes to the actual artists.
Internationally Auction houses have always commanded the dizzy prices but the markets they work in are a lot larger than New Zealand’s small and prejudiced market.
Consider this: Most of the art sold last evening was bought from galleries 25 - 40 years ago, at the time the "secondary market" was in its infancy and work was bought by people who liked living with it and not because they thought that one day they could make a healthy profit.
The market in New Zealand is small enough without the lion’s share of expenditure unable to trickle down.
I am sure the auctioneers will argue that the money gets reinvested and that collectors buy emerging artists but in my experience there is only one reason for putting works into auction; you need the cash.
Gordon Walters, Tautahi, 1969,
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