'What do art advisers do?'...

August 11 2016

Image of 'What do art advisers do?'...

Picture: Artnet News

...asks Henri Neuendorf for ArtNet News. The answer sheds a maddening light on the snobbishness of the contemporary art market:

[...] with rising demand, galleries often sell only to their most loyal or high-profile clients, making it difficult for new buyers to get access to desirable works. A respected advisor on the other hand can use their connections to help facilitate access to artworks normally reserved for loyal repeat customers.

“There are a lot of novice collectors out there who don’t realize that you can’t run through the doors and make your first purchase,” dealer David Zwirner told the New York Times in 2006. “Primary market galleries like us often have three-year waiting lists. We’re very picky.”

For those of us who strive to make art, and the art market, accessible to everyone, to hear dealers bragging about being 'picky' is jarring.

But perhaps the wider question is, why do people still fall for this act? The system of advisers and gallery waiting lists - of a manufactured exclusivity only available to those on the inside - is designed to make collectors feel compelled to pay, unquestioningly, high prices for mediocre works. 

As the article goes onto to explicitly state:

Beyond providing access to elusive artworks, advisors also help refine their clients tastes [...]'

In other words, you pay a fee to be told what you like, and for the privilege of buying it. And as Neuendorf wisely concludes:

The downside to relying on art advisor is that the age-old “buy what you love” mantra is lost when a market expert tells you what to purchase. As a result, art collecting has become increasingly homogenized and eclectic, individual collections have become increasingly rare.

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