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The trend towards increased globalisation had a major impact on the branding strategies of international companies. Next to important economies of scale that a global brand can bring to the company, the advantage of benefiting from a unique worldwide image across markets is considered by managers as an important advantage to manage brands on a global basis. Companies have traditionally followed two types of strategies to create their global brands. One strategy has consisted of expanding successful local brands on international markets. The second strategy has consisted of creating global brands from the start. These brands are launched on a worldwide basis quasi at the same time.
© SYMPHONYA Emerging Issues in Management, n. 2, 2006
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Codignola Federica, Global Markets and Contemporary Art, Symphonya. Emerging Issues in
Management (, n. 2, 2006, pp. 73-93
Global Markets and Contemporary Art
Federica Codignola
Today’s contemporary art world has to come to terms with a highly unstable socio-
economic context that is evolving rapidly and constantly, with the result that any
analysis to establish the state of the demand and supply of artistic goods and services in
a global scenario is quite complex.
The supply of contemporary art is renewed and must continue to be renewed, in
line with the recent requirements of demand and with economic and technological
Keywords: Contemporary Art Market; Contemporary Art; Marketing; Supply of
Contemporary Art; Global Economics; Globalisation; Global Competition
1. The Structure and Characteristics of the Contemporary Art Market
Today’s contemporary art world has to come to terms with a highly unstable socio-
economic context that is evolving rapidly and constantly
, with the result that any
analysis to establish the state of the demand and supply of artistic goods and services in
a global scenario is quite complex. On one hand, by definition, the creation of
contemporary artistic products is ‘in progress’ and therefore without the time limit
typical of the artistic products of other periods and historically concluded currents
(ancient art, modern art, etc.). On the other hand, under the influence of globalisation,
today’s environment is changing constantly (the liberalisation of markets, of trade and
of international investment, the opening up of once-closed economies, the weakening of
trade barriers, continuous technological innovation, etc.), and this in turn has a strong
influence on the contemporary art market
. The number of contemporary art collectors
has grown considerably in the last twenty years, but there have also been interesting
changes in their origins, which have expanded significantly (particularly to Russia and
China). The globalisation of the economy and of culture lies behind this and other
significant changes in this field. Both condition and characterise the supply of artistic
products and services, which become global on one hand, while they respect and
safeguard the local and national characteristics and traditions typical of each country’s
art on the other
. So it is also thanks to economics, communication and technology,
* Assistant Professor of Management, University of Milan-Bicocca (
© SYMPHONYA Emerging Issues in Management, n. 2, 2006
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which globalise the supply, demand and competition of artistic events, products and
services, if a global contemporary art market has emerged. But the most decisive of the
latest mechanisms underpinning the contemporary art market, is competition: on one
hand, genuine competitive systems have developed outside (for example, a visit to an
exhibition competes with a visit to a theme park or sports event) and inside the sector
(the competition between two contemporary art galleries or two auction houses), and on
the other, organisations in different sectors (banks, local authorities, etc.) have chosen
contemporary art as a competitive factor
The supply of contemporary artistic products thus seems unable to avoid following
global management and marketing strategies because it is intrinsically linked to
market logics. On the other hand, the evolution of the individual and therefore of
demand (based on changing lifestyles, expectations, taste, purchasing behaviour and
enjoyment of what the art world has to offer), has demanded from the art market an
equally global review of how it produces, distributes and sells
. The supply of
contemporary art is therefore renewed and must continue to be renewed, in line with
the recent requirements of demand and with economic and technological changes,
taking product peculiarities into account at the same time.
1.1 Global Economics and the Supply of Contemporary Art
Today’s global markets, where competition is open, are generally oversupplied, a
real structural development factor for companies, which have to come to terms with
the gradual over-supply of goods (which can be produced at ever-lower costs as a
result of continuous technological development); ‘goods which ... must be
proposed with a copious choice of alternatives, to meet increasingly sophisticated
consumer requirements’
In the light of the above, one might now expect the contemporary art market to
adopt the same marketing policies that are valid for other types of goods. But the
art market is dealing with a type of product (the work of art) for which,
exceptionally, supply may fall short of or exceed demand, depending on the market
. It is an anomalous market, simply because the coexistence of over and
under-supply is itself anomalous. At the same time, however, this market comes to
terms and competes, at a higher level, with the over-supply endemic in the cultural
sector. The latter, which has grown and diversified, now competes directly with the
art world in general, and then with the contemporary art market. Basically, if the
competition within the contemporary art world used to be played out directly
between the main traditional parties (private galleries, auction houses and, more
recently, art fairs), today, with the individual’s growing physical and virtual
mobility and increased financial resources (cost of purchasing a work, cost of an
entrance ticket, but also transport, etc.), there is also indirect competition between
the contemporary art market and anything that can be considered a ‘replacement’
for it (antiques, performing arts, cinema, publishing, ‘short’ weekend or wine and
food tourism, festivals, etc.), in other words, large, medium and small cultural and
sports events.
The supply of contemporary works of art
feels the effect of continuous technical
and technological innovation in the creative field, while distribution and
communication systems and venues are expanding and changing. It has also become
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broader and more dynamic as a result of the appreciation mechanisms and guidance
capacity exerted by producers of information
. This seems to take place in two
complementary influences: ‘On one hand, the trends and fashions of the artistic
content of a product, in other words the succession and overlapping of styles, schools
and currents, (…), and often sudden changes in trends and fashions; on the other, the
organisational structure of the markets, which tends to change constantly because it is
aware that the art product acquires a more complex semantic and symbolic
importance if the means with which it is made available for exhibition and trade are
flexible and able to bring out its many possible meanings.’
So renewal and dynamism both characterise the contemporary art market, both in
terms of contents and in terms of the organisational-managerial structure. The
introduction of innovative forms of production, diffusion/distribution, promotion
and sale of the artistic product ‘generates a gradual reduction in cost-opportunity.
This is true both for alternative forms of artistic output, and for other choices linked
to the consumption of the intangible economy’
1.2 The System of Intangibles in Contemporary Art
Works of art have a dual function: an aesthetic function, which defines their
identity within a strictly cultural context, and a non-aesthetic function, which can
be broken down into several sub-functions. The non-aesthetic functions are
particularly important for contemporary works of art, because they are intrinsic in
today’s reality. They reflect the socio-cultural and socio-economic dimension of the
environment in which they are created and marketed
. On one hand they perform
the function of a symbolic asset, because possession is a means of increasing the
owner’s status and prestige; on the other they have an economic function, which is
intrinsic in the previous function because it considers the artistic product by its
trade value, and therefore whether it is a potential source of profit (investment
asset, collectible or speculative value)
The peculiar nature of the contemporary art market is the fact that it handles and
markets works whose quality and value are not easily evident from the works
themselves. Not only do they obey theoretical-aesthetic canons that are entirely new
compared to the past, but they are produced using techniques and materials that also
make an economic and artistic evaluation difficult. Moreover, from an economic
viewpoint, one could maintain that the product-work of art is incomplete in the place
where it is created (an artist’s studio, for example), because at this point it would only
incorporate its own physical characteristics. The quality and value of these works
cannot be properly appreciated unless one understands the system of intangibles, or
rather the work’s intangible characteristics, in other words who has sold, purchased,
valued, communicated, criticised it and so on.
1.3 Product Orientation, Marketing Orientation and Market-Driven Orientation
In order to analyse the different classifications of works of art in detail by the system
of tangible and intangible factors underpinning them, and to contextualise this
classification in today’s contemporary art market, we must first consider a few
theoretical points that emerge when an economic-business approach is applied to art
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To define the contemporary art market we can discuss and compare three different
perspectives: an orientation to the product (focus on production), an orientation to
marketing (focus on demand) and a market-driven orientation (focus on competition)
Only if we consider these three approaches together can we understand the determinants
of artistic value and the characteristics for its dissemination.
There can be no doubt that the rules of product orientation have always applied to
other types of artistic products (ancient art, for example), taking little (in the case of
commissioned works) or no account of the public they addressed. With the gradual
development of a structured art market and with it today’s contemporary art
market, supply has had to shift in the direction of potential and actual consumers.
Responding to the market means first of all identifying the demand, the preferences
and expectations that it embodies, and subsequently proposing suitable supply
(marketing orientation)
. But when these variables have to act in today’s very
changeable and extremely competitive context, market strategies must take other
factors into account too (market-driven management).
The process of creating and spreading artistic value on the other hand, makes it
easier to identify certain segments of the art world that may actually reveal a link with
some dynamics peculiar to business economics. However, these dynamics are not
implicated directly in the act of artistic creation, but only in the subsequent stages of
diffusion of the artistic value to the various publics that make up the art market.
These stages would preserve the artist and his creative act, while allowing the artistic
value to enter society, so as to meet the needs of the various target segments at
different stages of the process. Theatre, dance, reading, writing, photography,
architecture and painting, but also design, cinema and radio are only a few examples
of what has artistic value, in other words the way in which people express their
creative talents within society, contributing to its cultural identity
The variety and complexity of the type of market could lead one to instinctively
choose a product-oriented approach in the context of economic-business theory
applied to art. Grouping artistic products together in sub-categories on the basis of
their attributes authorises an analysis of the specific characteristics of each market.
Scientific literature has also adopted a product-oriented perspective to divide artistic
products into groups such as, for example, high and popular art, visual and
performing arts, or artistic goods and services
. High art includes painting, sculpture
and music, and represents art in its purest and most original forms. The artist pursues
art as an end in itself, with no explicit intention to mould it to the market’s needs.
Popular or liberal art includes the cinema and fashion design, produced by experts
striving for commercial success and a return on their investment, and it therefore
addresses a much broader audience through the mass reproduction of the artistic
creation. Performing art is distinguished from visual art by the way in which the work
is presented and the manner in which the audience interacts with the artistic product.
Performing art is interpreted and represented in the same way as dance, theatre and
opera. Where visual art is concerned (painting, sculpture, photography, etc.), the
interpretation of the artistic product depends entirely on the observer’s sensitivity and
experience. In the breakdown of artistic goods and services proposed by De Biase et
and Evrard
, the nature of the artistic product may be tangible, as it is for books
or paintings, or intangible, as it is for ‘services’ (festivals). This distinction between
goods and services vanishes if one considers a continuum between products and
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services that depends on the degree of tangibility of supply
designed to meet a
particular need.
Where the definition of a sector is concerned, first of all, recent studies indicate that
this is increasingly arduous, particularly in today’s competitive, complex and
permeable environment
. Secondly, the distinctions between artistic sub-sectors
impose certain limits, because they are extremely subjective concepts. However, the
same limits can be found in all aspects of the product-oriented approach, because it
emerges that the consumer’s perspective is not considered. According to marketing-
oriented logics (in which the tangible factors typical of a product-oriented approach
are partly replaced by intangible factors), products are not defined on the basis of
their objective properties, but of a perception of their ability or inability to meet the
needs of specific market segments. A correct economically oriented approach to the
definition of this subject could start from an analysis of the sum of benefits obtained
from the consumption of works of art.
The focus on demand (marketing orientation) in the definition of the subject under
examination requires analysis of the motivations leading to the consumption of the
artistic product. In this regard, in Spranzi
, Frey and Pommerehne maintain that the
best way to define art is to consider people’s individual preferences regarding the
subject in question. Literature that has tackled this issue has tended to group the
benefits of art consumption in the following categories: functional (cultural)
symbolic (social)
and emotional
. Functional benefits are expected when the
individual feels tension provoked by preoccupation with a need. Art could fill a need
when it possesses an educational benefit or makes a cultural contribution. For
example, numerous studies have shown that the acquisition of knowledge is one of
the main reasons why people visit museums and art galleries
. Unlike strictly
functional benefits, symbolic benefits refer to the significance that the product
acquires on a psychological and social level, but they are also linked to semiotic
aspects: the consumption of artistic products reveals aspects of the individual’s
personality and cultural level on one hand, and a striving for a particular social status
on the other
. Emotional benefits are linked to the desire for a stimulating and
entertaining experience but, unlike functional benefits, they do not see consumption
as a way to solve a problem or fill a vacuum: emotional benefits are related to the
sensations and fantasies aroused by consumption as an experience. It therefore seems
clear that the consumption of art brings various types of benefit, some extrinsic
(utilitarian) and others intrinsic (emotional), which probably combine or diversify
depending when consumption takes place in a given timeframe.
Having said this, it is also obvious that art consumption differs from other forms of
consumption because of the importance that non-utilitarian and emotional aspects
acquire. A marketing-oriented approach to the definition of the art market would
therefore focus on the relative importance of the different needs met by art
consumption, also giving weight to the emotional aspects. But this perspective also
seems to underline its limits, for example in the sense that there is a risk of reducing
art to a purely subjective phenomenon dependent on the individual’s sensitivity.
Attempting to define a similar substratum as an economic basis and orientation to
tackle the system of the tangible and intangible factors of a work of art, leads us to the
following conclusions. From a product-oriented viewpoint, artistic products may be
classified and sub-classified on the basis of their respective inherent characteristics.
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This implies that works of art may be recognised as such in advance, considering the
aesthetic standards and conventions they obey. However, this view contradicts the idea
that a product is defined on the basis of the consumer’s perception of it. Even if a
similar perspective may be useful to organise current thought, it does not correctly
express the concept of the utility of business-economic theories applied to art.
If we adopt a perspective that focuses primarily on demand, the intrinsic links
triggered by interaction with the artistic product seem to facilitate a definition of art,
unlike extrinsic links. Works of art arouse strong emotional reactions, which are
extremely subjective, but individually they may be ineffective in formulating a
general criterion; they can be embraced for their broader understanding of the
contemporary art market, which is coming up against global economies and against a
third fundamental factor (in addition to supply and demand): competition. Each
criterion, taken singly, has both advantages and disadvantages. But taken together,
these criteria help to understand the relations between art and economic-business
reasoning, or to analyse more specific concepts in greater depth.
2. Globalisation and Competitive Size
Taken as a whole, economic globalisation, technological-IT evolutions and the
progress of the individual-consumer have caused strong competitive market tension.
Competition variables, combined with market, cost, technology and governance
variables, identify five basic globalisation drivers
. Artistic supply, built around
systems of tangible and intangible factors, has to manage not only a situation of
internal competition (between players in the same system-market)
, but also, as we
have seen, external competition from the broader cultural context (performing arts,
publishing, etc.)
. Wherever it emerges, competition today is worldwide because of
the supply of artistic products and services that has effectively become global, and the
demand for technological-IT innovation that is equally global (increased mobility of
the individual, information that is available and accessible at any time and place, the
possibility of transactions over the Internet, by telephone, etc.). Where supply is
concerned, even the producers and players in the exchange are global (artists,
museums, galleries, fairs, auction houses and international events). As we said, these
economies have also influenced this market indirectly, by making contemporary art a
source and factor of competitive advantage for businesses outside the sector that
habitually invested in other types of assets.
2.1 Distribution Centre, Artist and Competitive Advantage
If we analyse the product-work of art in relation to related marketing centres
(making an exception for ‘pure’ collectors and gallery owners)
, we can see that the
product policy is expressed in the choice of a range of products-artists that are
handled on the basis of the reachable purchasers. In this way, the distribution pole
tends to take a different approach based on the notoriety of the artists marketed, the
degree of specialisation (i.e. the breadth of the range handled in terms of artistic
currents) and ‘depth’, i.e. the multiplicity of the authors of each artistic current. If the
operator is to be able to guarantee the future availability of new products or the
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conditions for the quantitative expansion of his activities, he may launch new artists
who are unknown or only successful in minor markets, without failing to also market
successful artists. If an artist’s renown can be measured by his ability to influence his
entire socio-cultural environment, the strength of the distribution will stem from
specialisation and ‘depth’. Extensive specialisation and greater ‘depth’ of the
operator’s assortment can potentially influence purchasers to form a positive
judgement of the reliability of the distribution organs; they are a source of
competitive advantage for the latter, because important implications emerge
regarding the degree of spatial dissemination and continuous distribution in time.
Where spatial dissemination is concerned, the renown and image of the distribution
company is more important than the actual physical location of the premises visited by
the public (whether a gallery or an auction house). This image translates into various
degrees of attraction, which can even have an international impact. And at the same
time it might choose to create more distribution units
. In terms of continuity, there is a
precise alternative. Bearing in mind the cyclical nature of artistic marketing, one can
identify organisms or individual subjects that limit their activities to precise periods of
the year, like contemporary art fairs, others that operate with relative continuity
(galleries), and others still that combine these two methods, for example auction houses
that organise a series of appointments all year round.
Distribution slows the rhythm down, or it can accelerate it, depending on the extent
to which an artist’s work meets the needs of current purchasers or the possible
demand for changes to the market or the price. And finally, the market’s potential
absorption limits influence both the dissemination policy on one hand, encouraging
the search for an ever-larger market and, on the other (as we said earlier with regard
to the ‘manipulation’ of an artist’s production) the stimuli put in place in relation to
the artists encouraging the reduction or increase in the intensity of supply and
therefore of his output, or changes in certain qualitative characteristics.
To conclude, the competitive force of the activities performed by each centre that
distributes contemporary art may be classified, not only by its size and image, but
also by its potential and capacity to pursue a real distribution policy and not just to
sell the work of a specific artist, possibly overcoming the limits of the structural
characteristics of the distribution centre, including the features of the clientele
normally reachable.
2.2 Production, Diffusion and Global Competition
So we can say that ‘the globalisation of competition has opened up new prospects
for consumers, making it possible to export some cultural products. On the other
hand, it has also been possible to import some products from foreign countries and
this has meant additional competition for local products. In the culture industry,
organisations are grouped together or concentrated so that a small number of
multinationals controls the creation of a large number of cultural products’
. The
cultural organisations in countries where population intensity is low, must work
synergetically to achieve an advantageous international position, taking into
consideration not only the products themselves but all the links in the production
chain (from supply to distribution). The fragmentation of production sectors can also
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intensify competition: in Colbert
, Porter lists five forces that can trigger the latter:
‘forces (...) that rival each other inside the sector, new competitors, suppliers,
purchasers, replacement products (…). The arts sector is fragmented, with numerous
small organisations’
, but unlike the industrial sector, the art sector ‘does not offer
any possibility for concentration
because (adapting Colbert’s 2000 analysis of arts
and culture to the specific sector of contemporary art), there are no barriers to
entrance (opening a gallery is easy because it does not require the high initial
investment necessary to start an industrial company), and economies of scale are not
possible given the nature of the product. We are therefore looking at fragmented
businesses which to emerge must focus on a competitive advantage which may
derive, for example ‘from a product characteristic, a promotional tool, a different way
of using distribution networks or an interesting price policy’.
If we observe the structure of contemporary art from closer to, the distinction
between the sale and resale of recognised artistic assets, and activities to instil
value into and market new artistic values is complex, both because some galleries
perform both functions, as we said earlier, and because there are many galleries that
in the past have undertaken avant-garde activities, promoting new artists, then
continuing to work with them once they were successful, becoming less committed
to new proposals. The latter will gradually lose their appeal, because they are
overtaken by the competition in the process of artistic innovation.
The marketing strategies of the avant-garde market are in many ways a model for
more innovative dealers, even if we can see many changes because of the increasingly
complex structure of the contemporary art world described earlier, and the fast
turnover rate of artistic movements. This complexity reveals the close connection
between the international network of leading galleries, large collectors and museums.
In this situation, the activities of the most innovative dealers, with limited financial
and organisational resources, become more difficult internationally. Their role, in
large artistic centres like New York
or London
, can be very effective at the
discovery stage, supporting new trends by direct contact with the young artists. But if
success follows, these dealers very soon have to leave the stage to the large galleries
as it is unthinkable to compete with them, and certainly better to collaborate, even
from a subordinate position.
Unlike the past, strategies to promote new artists are no longer long-term in view
of the legitimation (of the works) and the historicisation (of the authors) that must
develop gradually, but are achieved in the very short term on the basis of consistent
investment, intense programmes of exhibitions in galleries and museums, and
critical promotion adopting marketing communication logics in the media. The aim
of all this is to create an ‘event’ and to stimulate the interest of collectors and/or
speculators. In today’s scenario, the quality of the artist and of the work of art is
only one of the components that determine success, ensuring that the consensus of
the critics follows that of the market and not the other way round as it did in the
past. This is how the image acquires importance, even in this sector, becoming a
source of added value when the relevant gallery is well known, when the artist has
taken part in exhibitions or won particular prizes, and so on. In a situation of over-
supply, even art seems to feed on image and advertising, inverting Warhol’s
assertion that advertising was an art. An artist’s work should therefore be located
not only in museums but also in important collections, like Charles Saatchi’s
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collection in London, although there is always a risk, for example, of the instability
typical of this type of collector. In today’s highly competitive environment, if these
complex strategies are to be successful, the galleries must have a dynamic,
prestigious image, generous funding (even thanks to external financiers) and good
relations in the international art system in terms of alliances and collaboration
(networking) with the other players on the market (other dealers, critics, museum
directors, etc.).
However, there seem to be few leaders at the peak of the contemporary art system
who determine the dominant trends, simultaneously managing innovation and the
creation of emerging values. As we saw earlier, the economic-marketing strategy
envisages a monopolistic or oligopolistic control of the output of successful or
emerging artists. This determines resistance in prices, which may be high to start
with, even during the launch of new products and therefore of new proposals. To
penetrate the wider market it becomes necessary to establish branches and
associations with galleries operating in particular markets and in different countries.
Each connected gallery can thus operate as an agent, facilitating the purchase of
works by the leading gallery, even financially. In this way, even if they accumulate
stocks of works of different movements (which might go unsold), leading galleries
permanent renew their supply, constantly looking for new artists to promote. Even for
new operators, the only way to emerge is to launch an emerging movement. A
circular relationship is thus established between continuous renewal and the demands
of market competition. Recently, because competition and the price of launch
operations have increased, some operators focus on short-term investments, trying to
obtain an immediate return on the capital invested.
The expansion of the contemporary art system has gradually accelerated on an
international scale, and marketing logic has become increasingly conditioning,
making it impossible to respect the natural maturation times of new artistic research,
and expressions of cultural value. This means that valuable artistic products can still
emerge, but within a complex system of fashions that are presented as artistically
authentic values, thanks to their rapid consecration by museums (whose function
tends to be to promote and support artists, backed by more powerful operators).
However, compared to the large number of artists whose success is very fleeting
because it is the fruit of a short-term commercial operation, the number of artists
whose image is strong enough to be transformed into unquestioned and lasting value
is very small. For this reason, while the works of the former may reach very high but
unstable prices, levelling off once the speculative phase has passed, the prices of the
latter (which may also suffer significant speculative fluctuations) tend to consolidate,
gradually growing in time to much higher levels.
If we observe how competition plays out between distribution centres, it is useful
to take a closer look at the phenomenon of contemporary art fairs which have
multiplied, from events exclusively for collectors, broadening their target universe
in Italy and abroad. Unlike collectors, private galleries and auction houses
museums, art fairs offer the potential purchaser a wide range of products. Supply
may be both diversified and very strong, in the sense that (in the case of large
international fairs) the level is no lower than that of other distribution centres. Not
only, but because they are cultural events, unlike a gallery or an auction house, the
container of an art fair may become a centre that attracts all the operators on the
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market, combining the traditional content of works of art with displays, exhibitions,
internal conference cycles, etc.
In a ‘domestic’ competitive system, fairs appear to favour contemporary art as a
motor of the general art market.
In 2005, 23 new contemporary art fairs were launched around the
world. This only confirms the trend of recent years, with six new fairs in
2000, seven in 2001 and 2002, 15 in 2003 and 18 in 2004
Inside these fairs, there is however a competitive strategy usually based on a
supply differential: there are certain so-called consumer events, structured like
large exhibitions so that they are accessible to the broader public, and others that
are more exclusive, with a small number of highly selected exhibitors. Between the
two macro-types there are also micro-fairs, like those held in hotels, or events that
combine contemporary art and other sectors. But if a fair is a decisive moment of
contact with a large number of potential purchasers who can come into contact with
numerous galleries and receive comparable information about prices of works all in
a single venue, it also causes of an evident decrease in the number of visitors and
purchasers to the gallery’s main premises (which, in the case of a fair, utilises part
of the budget earmarked for its corporate activities).
Alongside the gallery and the large fair, there is a third direct competitor: the
auction house, which has always existed and continues to be a major source of supply
for the gallery. What has changed is its role: from being a partner and supplier of
operators on the market, the auction house has become a competitor. The reason for
this transformation could be linked to the recent technological developments (for
example, the recent phenomenon of online auctions)
. Until a few years ago, it was
unthinkable that collectors could receive the results of international auctions in real
time, whereas today, thanks to the Internet, a growing number of specialist sites allow
collectors and purchasers to monitor the short, medium and long-term trend of every
single artist or work auctioned very precisely.
The following case regarding fairs and auction houses in Britain is
interesting. Since the Frieze Art Fair, which was launched in London in
the Winter of 2005, the contemporary art auctions that have been held
simultaneously have been a great success, doubling the previous results
of the regular London Autumn appointments. Sotheby’s and Christie’s
have completely revamped the structure of their auctions, carefully
choosing the lots offered, publishing large catalogues and organising
collateral events to attract international purchasers to London. Christie’s
even wanted to transform its auction into an evening sale (in other words,
an evening auction which normally represents the big event in the
calendar of the two leading organisations), but the rules of the Sunday
Trading Act did not allow it
. The style remained that of an evening sale,
as one could see from the catalogues, which presented the best emerging
artists. Similar marketing strategies therefore point to a competitive
balance between the two distribution centres, the fair and the auction
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2.3 Impact of Globalisation on the Contemporary Art Market: Some
Concrete Evidence
The great complexity of the contemporary artistic-marketing world is also
aggravated by the comprehensive mixture that is created between the new forms of
cultural production/consumption (new-media, Internet, new venues of cultural
consumption) and the cultural domains that are structurally and historically more
traditional. In fact:
- the traditional venues where art, particularly contemporary art, is enjoyed,
tend to be hybridised with the typical logics of commercial premises;
- the Internet sites of specialist magazines, galleries, museums and auction
houses, and other sites specialising in art like those containing databanks,
artist price indices, etc. become the centre of excellence for the
experimentation of new ICT forms to access and conserve the visual,
technological and documentary heritage;
- trade in works of art is drastically rethinking its structures, because it has to
come to terms with the new virtual logics and with the new computerised and
ITC channels and supports;
- the supply of works of art therefore tackles the risks and potential of ICT
- contemporary art production also dialogues directly with the new technologies,
new materials and digitalisation (video art, installations, etc..).
The dynamism of these phenomena characterises the context in which all
businesses, including artistic businesses and the figure of the artist himself, move
today. As we have seen, the greatest changes regard the environment, which in turn
impacts on the competitive context, forcing organisations to take it into account
when they define their strategies
. The technological variable is no less significant,
representing the most unstable factor in the current scenario, if we take into account
both the speed with which new technologies are developed, and the intensity with
which they can propagate, often in applications that are very far from their original
context. This is why we have repeatedly mentioned Internet technology as a
concurrent cause of globalisation but also a tool to boost the exchange of
information in the art market
The contemporary art market is therefore also subject to globalisation, revealing
extensive changes and becoming a global market. Some phenomena seem more
significant in relation to the above: demand, which is more fragmented and
diversified, has grown strongly and globalised, ‘prompting purchasers and dealers to
move themselves to reflect the morphology of the market and of transaction costs’
The entire contemporary art market has globalised, ensuring that every national art
venue is part of a global system of cultural and economic exchange, and that the
circulation of individuals, works and information can favour close links between
. Although the large auction houses hold their sales in the world’s capitals,
every week there is also an art fair somewhere in the world. But if in some cases,
there is a relatively high degree of market concentration in relation to demand, on the
American market for example (which alone represents almost half the world market)
and the UK market (one quarter), in others there is great dispersion of distribution
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and marketing points. Take the example of the Continua Gallery of San Giminiano
(which, like other galleries, recently opened a branch in Beijing, China). The art
market seems to embody the dual characteristics of being both extremely
internationalised and concentrated in a small number of large cities, which is the
reason why New York, London and Paris continue to be the dominant marketplaces.
This spatial configuration plays a functional role both in the creation of
interdependence between economic, cultural and political players, and in the speed
with which information is gathered and circulated
The gradual growth of art fairs internationally underlines the globalisation of the
art scene, in which multicultural supply is gathering strength. Regional and local art
markets have encouraged global competition through art fairs, international
auctions and branches of art galleries located around the world. This shows how
much global competition has developed, because it is this global presence that
raises the profile and value of works of art around the world. As a result, even
artistic movements from Africa, South America, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong,
Vietnam or Russia are exported and given visibility. At the same time, institutional
networks dedicated to modern artistic creations have also developed around the
world (for example, galleries, museums and exhibitions dedicated to worldwide
contemporary art proliferate, incorporating the artistic output of different
Every year the German magazine Capital publishes Kunstkompass,
a list of the leading living artists. It is very influential all over the world
and is intended to reflect its own aesthetic values based on the opinion
of experts and appearances in major exhibitions. In 2004, the 100 best
artists included 33 Americans, 28 Germans, 8 Britons, 5 Frenchmen, 4
Italians and 3 Swiss. Of the remaining 16 artists, only 5 came from
developing countries (South Africa, Cuba, Iran, Mexico and Thailand).
On November 16, 2004 Christie’s held one of the two largest
auctions of contemporary art in New York: of the 48 artists whose
works were sold, 26 were from the United States, 6 from the United
Kingdom, 5 from Germany, 4 from Italy, 3 from Switzerland, 2 from
Japan and 1 each from France and South Africa
On November 17, 2004 Sotheby’s held its auction of contemporary
art: of the 63 works sold, 50 belonged to American artists or artists
with American nationality.
In art, like many other fields, there seems to be a ‘centre’ made up of a few
countries in a very rigid hierarchy, and a ‘perimeter’. And even if the artists from the
‘perimeter’ have achieved a certain degree of fame and their works have touched
relatively high market values, the proportion is minimal and recent trends, Asian or
African art for example, might disappear as rapidly as they have formed. And finally,
it is interesting to note that while there is ample focus on innovation on one hand,
through young artists and new trends, on the other there is still an aptitude to
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minimise risk, particularly of a financial nature, and this eventually inflates the value
of artists from recognised art centres who are promoted more easily.
Globalisation, measured by the degree of penetration of different markets or by
the type of organisation
, seems to be a difficult concept to apply to the
contemporary world. It might be more useful to observe the globalisation
phenomenon through the different structural types that make up the contemporary
art system. What is clear is that globalisation simultaneously affects both demand
and supply, and that it is achieved to different degrees. However, it is essential to
actively establish strong relations in the global art world. Starting from this point,
we could see globalisation as gradual inclusion in the worldwide network and as a
spotlight on the ebb and flow from the inside to the outside. It is clear that
globalisation has undoubtedly favoured the increase, diversification and renewal of
supply, provided the intensity of competition is taken into consideration at every
market level. The importance of a similar approach and also of the very value of
the resources and the system of intangibles of the product-work of art, combined
with the choice of how to organise production and diffusion, could actually
represent a source of success and therefore of differentiation.
2.4 The Case of China
China is still to a great extent outside the competition logics typical of
contemporary art markets like that in the West, focusing on its own culture and
‘national brand’ (founded on typical national products) to add value to artistic
supply. Never before in the history of the world economy has a country been the
subject of so rapid and so long a period of growth. Development recorded in China
in the last twenty-five years equalled that recorded by several Western countries in
a century. The Chinese market continues to move very fast, and the same can be
said of its art and art market.
From the Venice Biennale of 2001 at which about twenty artists
represented the different genres of contemporary Chinese art, to the
2003 edition with another important section; from the various
international exhibitions dedicated to Chinese art (like the one held in
the Spazio Oberdan in Milan last Summer), to the large industrial
districts of Beijing and Shanghai which have been transformed into art
centres, with studios and galleries. Even the 2006 edition of the Milan
MiArt Fair chose China as its guest of honour and therefore the main
In the last five years, a growing number of Chinese artists has gradually involved
and conditioned the organisation of galleries, museums, auction houses and
international fairs
, and the cultural context has evolved from a state of penury to
one of richness and resounding commercial success. The artists themselves play a
doubly active role in the art market circuit: after producing and selling their work,
they have gained significant purchasing power (which is actually still strong for
part of the Chinese population), and they enter the market again, acquiring other
works of art in order to build up collections.
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In China in particular, demand seems to exceed supply and as a consequence
distribution centres, such as galleries, are not familiar with the phenomenon of
competition. In fact numerous European, Japanese and American galleries
already opened branches in China, benefiting from the visibility that comes from a
direct presence. However, from a cross-cultural viewpoint, power still seems to be
in the hands of the native galleries: the Chinese galleries have complete mastery of
the language, the mechanisms, and the codes of practice of a cultural system that is
still a long way from being easily understood by the rest of the world. From a more
practical viewpoint but for similar reasons, the galleries are also preferred by
Chinese artists. The same is true of purchasers.
‘To date, numerous works by contemporary Chinese artists have
been exported, and while this has encouraged the spread of Chinese art
abroad, it has also caused a loss and dispersion of the national cultural
heritage. The value of a country’s works of art is increased and
sustained by monetary growth and goes hand in hand with economic
development. At present, investing in real estate and stock in China is
not profitable, so it is better to invest in art. For this reason, while
collectors of Chinese art in America and Europe break down into
enthusiasts, connoisseurs, speculators, etc., 98% of Chinese collectors
purchase as an investment. Many of them belong to the leading
economic classes and have huge resources at their disposal; they are
addicted to the frenetic search for new luxury goods, but have little
understanding of them, nor do they have a precise
purchasing/collecting philosophy. They prefer painting to photography
or video art, and limit their attention to Chinese art both because they
are not familiar with contemporary foreign art and because they are
still extremely nationalistic.’
Because it is actively involved in the entire system of the international
contemporary art market, typical Chinese art could not remain outside the auction
In addition to the local auction houses
, in 1994 the two world
leaders, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, both opened branches in Shanghai,
followed in 1996 by the inauguration of a branch of Christie’s in
Beijing and a fixed calendar of auctions in Hong Kong by both
organisations. Sotheby’s has also now created a Chinese contemporary
art department in New York which will hold its first auction on March
31 this year, predicting an estimated total of up to $ 7.5 million for
about 200 works of art.
According to the auction house experts, the new Asian purchasers
represent an important market share (in New York alone they have
increased tenfold in the last three years), but it is still the Western
collectors who take the best lots, particularly the Americans who
account for 50% of purchasers
. The world auction market of
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contemporary Chinese art was valued at about $150-200 million in
2005 and it is growing by approximately 20% a year
, while Gabrius
Artindex calculates that the turnover of this sector increased by 247%
between 1996 and 2005.
Briefly, globalisation and the competition it has triggered have unquestionably
created a flow of novelties that is helping to determine the contemporary cultural
climate, which by definition is constantly renewed. Our contribution to the analysis
of the contemporary art market sees the specific contextualisation of globalisation
as the main novelty. Many recent marketing and business economic studies have
analysed the assets, services and organisations that interact in the global scenario,
but a similar analysis had never been performed for the distinct and atypical genre
of contemporary artistic goods and services.
What emerges first of all is the presence of a hyper-supply of information and
hyper-potential of access to this information. Basically, the excess of information
and the ease with which it is accessed, and shrinking distances between countries,
economies, goods and individuals becomes an insurmountable horizon that artists,
collectors, critics, purchasers, distributors, exhibitors, etc. have to come to terms
with, while accepting the risk of being involved in situations of growing stylistic or
commercial competition, and therefore becoming a target of conditioning.
Art Market Trends 2004, Artprice (
Becker S., Art Worlds, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 1982.
Belk R., Bryce W., Christmas Shopping Scene: from Modern Miracle to Postmodern Mall,
International Journal of Research in Marketing, n. 10, 1993.
Bertello V., Arte Friezante sul Tamigi, Il Giornale dell’Arte, n. 249, Dicembre, 2005.
Best R., Market-Based Management, Upper Saddle River, Pearson Prentice Hall, NJ, 2005.
Bondardo M., Perché una collezione di impresa. Gli esempi di Saatchi&Saatchi, Hugo Boss, Mandarina
Duck e Deutsche Bank,, The Independent Review – Speciale Arte, n. 3, Settembre/Ottobre, 2003.
Brondoni S. M., Comunicazione, risorse invisibili e strategia competitiva d'impresa, Sinergie, vol.
43/44, 1997, pp. 3-37.
Brondoni S.M., Marketing Lexicon, Clueb, Bologna, 2000.
Brondoni S. M., Comunicazione, performance e sistema delle risorse immateriali d'impresa,
Sinergie, vol. 59, 2002, pp. 41-53.
Busacca B., Il sistema motivazionale del consumatore, E. Valdani (ed.), Marketing, Utet libreria,
Turin, 1995.
Busacca B., L’analisi del consumatore, Egea, Milan, 1990.
Carù A., Il contributo del marketing dei servizi all’evoluzione degli studi di marketing, Sinergie, n.
40, maggio-agosto, 1996.
Codignola F., The Art Market, Global Economy and Information Trasparency, Symphonya.
Emerging Issues in Management (, n. 2, 2003.
© SYMPHONYA Emerging Issues in Management, n. 2, 2006
Edited by: ISTEI - University of Milan-Bicocca ISSN: 1593-0319
Colbert F., Marketing delle arti e della cultura, Etas, Milan, 2000.
D’Harnoncourt A., The Museum and the Public, in The Economics of Art Museums, University of
Chicago Press, 1991.
Day G., Market Driven Strategy, Processes for Creating Value, The Free Press, New York , 1999.
De Biase F., Genovese M., Pessinotto L., Saggion, O., Manuale delle Professioni Culturali, Utet, Turin,
Douglas M, Isherwood, B. 1994, Il mondo delle cose, Bologna, Il Mulino.
Evrard Y., Culture et marketing: incompatibilité ou reconciliation?, in Proceedings of the First
International Conference on Arts Management, Montréal, Canada, 1991.
Foglio A., Il marketing dell’arte, FrancoAngeli, Milan, 2005.
Gainer B., Ritual and Relationships: Interpersonal Influences on Shared Consumption, Journal of
Business Research, n. 32, 1995.
Golinelli G., L'approccio sistemico al governo dell'impresa. La dinamica evolutiva del sistema
impresa tra economia e finanza, vol. II, Cedam, Padua, 2002.
Hill E., O’Sullivan C., O’Sullivan T., Creative Arts Marketing, Butterworth-Heinemann, 1995.
Hirschman E., Holbrook, M., ‘Hedonic Consumption: Emerging Concepts, Methods and
Propositions’, Journal of Marketing, n. 46, summer, 1982.
Holbrook M., Consumer Research: Introspective Essays on the Study of Consumption, Sage
Publications, London, 1995.
Holbrook M., Hirshman, E., ‘The Experiential Aspects of Consumption: Consumer Fantasies,
Feelings, and Fun’, Journal of Consumer Research, n. 9, September, 1982.
Johansson J., Global Marketing, Columbus, OH, McGraw-Hill.
Kelly R., Culture as Commodity: The Marketing of Cultural Objects and Cultural Commodity,
Advances in Consumer Research, v. 14, Association for Consumer Research, 1987.
Lambin J.J, Marketing strategico e operativo, Mc Graw-Hill, Columbus, OH, 2000.
Lambin J.J., Brondoni S. M., Ouverture de ‘Market-Driven Management’, Symphonya. Emerging
Issues in Management (www.unimib.symphonya), n. 2, 2000-2001.
Lury C., Consumer Culture, Polity Press, 1997.
Mattiacci A., La gestione dei beni artistici e culturali nell’ottica del mercati, Guerini e Associati,
Milan, 1998.
McLean F., A Marketing Revolution in Museums, Journal of Marketing Management, vol. 11, 1995.
Menger P., L’hégémonie parisienne. Économie et politique de la gravitation artistique, Annales ESC,
nov./déc, 1993.
Pepe C., Il doppio sistema distretto/canale nei percorsi internazionali delle piccole imprese, G. Esposito
(ed.), La globalizzazione dei piccoli. Fattori di competitività e promozione dell’internazionalizzazione
delle pmi, Franco Angeli, Milan, 2003.
Pepe C., Connotati organizzativi dell’impresa per il mercato globale, Sinergie, n. 60, 2003.
Perlmutter H., The Tortuous Evolution of the Multinational Corporation, Columbia Journal of
World Business, 1969.
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Poli F., Arte Contemporanea, Le ricerche internazionali dalla metà degli anni cinquanta a oggi, Electa,
Milan, 2003. (
Poli F., Il sistema dell’arte contemporanea, Editori Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2003.
Quemin A., La dimension territoriale de l'art contemporaine, Pratiques, n. 1, 2002.
Sacco P., L’arte fa bene alla cultura, Il Sole 24 Ore, 23 novembre 2003.
Scheff J., Kotler P., Crisis in the Arts: The Marketing Response, California Management Review, n. 1,
Shostack L., Breaking Free from Product Marketing, Journal of Marketing, n. 2, April, 1977.
Spranzi A., Economia dell’Arte, Università Bocconi, Cescom, Milan, 1996.
Trimarchi M., I mercati dell’arte contemporanea: preferenze individuali, azione pubblica e strategie
private, M. De Luca, F. Gennari Santori, B. Pietromarchi, M. Trimarchi (ed.), Creazione contemporanea.
Arte, società e territorio tra pubblico e privato, Luca Sassella Editore, 2004.
Troilo G., Addis M., Building Market Orientation in Arts or Cultural Institution, in AIMAC
Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 2001.
Valdani E., Botti S., Dall’evoluzione alla coevoluzione, dalla concorrenza all’ipercompetizione,
Working Paper Series, n. 27, Dipartimento di Marketing, Milan, SDA Bocconi, 1996.
Volpato G., Concorrenza Impresa Strategie, Il Mulino, Bologna, 1995.
In Europe ‘contemporary art’ generally covers art from Impressionism to the present day; in the United
States, on the other hand, the same period is divided into ‘modern art’ (up to the Second World War) and
‘contemporary art’ (from the Forties to the present, starting from Abstract Expressionism, i.e. the first
American avant-garde movement to become an international success). ‘But the real turnaround that
changed the basic coordinates of artistic research defined as strictly contemporary, whose most significant
aspects are still a vital stimulus for today’s complex, ramified situation, began in Europe and in America
more or less in the late Fifties, developing in the next decade. This turnaround eventually broke down the
traditional boundaries between painting and sculpture (which remain very important practices but are no
longer dominant in artistic creation), starting from a radical critique of the excess of subjective and
existential expressiveness of the informal and of action painting, and more in general of the illusionistic
dimension of the work of art. And it is characterised by the concrete involvement of objective daily reality,
a provoking opening up of elite culture to the universe of mass culture, a new and more direct relationship
between art and life, in terms of performance art and environmental installations, and as a process of self-
referential reflection on the specific character and limits of artistic languages and on the very system of art.
It all takes shape through the use of new techniques and new materials, and the elaboration of new working
procedures,’ Poli, F., Arte Contemporanea, Le ricerche internazionali dalla metà degli anni cinquanta a
oggi, Milan, Electa, 2003, available from the site
For the evolutionary processes that have led to the globalisation of the markets, we refer you to:
J.J. Lambin, S.M., Brondoni, Ouverture de ‘Market-Driven Management’, Symphonya, Emerging
Issues in Management (www.unimib.symphonya), n. 2, 2000-2001; Colbert, F., Marketing delle arti
e della cultura, Milan, Etas, 2000, pp. 76-79.
In this regard, Foglio talks about glocalisation as a strategic blend of globalisation and artist
localisation’. Cf. Foglio, A., Il marketing dell’arte, Milan, FrancoAngeli, 2005, p. 23.
For the concept of contemporary art as a source of competitive advantage for businesses, we refer you,
among others, to: Sacco, P., ‘L’arte fa bene alla cultura’, in Il Sole 24 Ore, November 23, 2003; Bondardo,
© SYMPHONYA Emerging Issues in Management, n. 2, 2006
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M., ‘Perché una collezione di impresa. Gli esempi di Saatchi&Saatchi, Hugo Boss, Mandarina Duck e
Deutsche Bank’, in The Independent Review – Speciale Arte, n. 3 September/October, pp. 29-42, 2003.
‘The globalization of today’s marketplace makes many new demands on a marketer. Not only are
there important decisions to be made about which countries’ markets and segments to participate in
and what modes of entry to use, but a marketer must also help formulate the marketing strategies in
these countries and coordinate their implementation. (…) It is a job in which proven marketing
techniques and face-to-face contacts are invaluable and one that requires a thorough grasp of
marketing fundamentals and use of global communications’
. Cf. Johansson, J., Global Marketing,
Columbus, OH, McGraw-Hill, p. 1, 2005.
Cf. Ibid, p. 8.
In fact, there is a state of over-supply in the output of artists with little notoriety: beginners,
unknown or little known, and of low quality; on the other hand there is a tendency to over-supply for
the works produced in multiples. On the other hand, there is a natural scarcity of supply in the
segment of artists who are requested, or greatly requested by the market, well-known or no longer
alive. At the same time, in the same market bracket we can note a state of artificial scarcity of
supply, when the latter is manipulated (asking the artist to produce less, keeping artists’ works
privately without launching them on the market, etc.) in order to raise the price of the works.
According to the econometric data published by Artprice, 2004 was the year of contemporary art;
turnover in this market doubled in one year, and thanks to a 17% increase in prices over twelve months,
the share of this segment as a percentage of total sales increased from 4.4% to 6.4%. The results of
auctions of younger generations of artists (i.e. those born after 1960), reveal that although the latter still
do not achieve the prices of Picasso, Renoir or Van Gogh, they are nonetheless acclaimed
internationally and have become proper ‘benchmarks’ for the market (some of them have reached one
million Dollars and their prices continue to rise). See: Art Market Trends 2004, in
‘In addition to the commercial commitment of dealers, we have the commercial commitment of
collectors, who defend and try to instil value in their purchases, the commitment of art critics who
address the promotion and cultural recognition of the works, and also the commitment of museum
directors and curators (…) important for the official legitimisation of the values (with a historicising
function) on both a cultural level and an economic level, both because the museums represent a very
important part of demand (public collections), and because museum ‘recognition for an artist is a
prestigious added value that reverberates all through his production’. Cf. Poli, F., Il sistema dell’arte
contemporanea, Rome-Bari, Editori Laterza, 2003, p. 48.
Cf. Trimarchi, M., ‘I mercati dell’arte contemporanea: preferenze individuali, azione pubblica e
strategie private’, in Creazione contemporanea. Arte, società e territorio tra pubblico e privato, edited
by De Luca, M; Gennari Santori, F.; Pietromarchi, B.; Trimarchi, M., Luca Sassella Editore, 2004, p.
Cf. Trimarchi, M., Ibid, 2004, p. 33.
The peculiarity of the contemporary work of art lies in the fact that it appears as an asset
‘produced’ and finished in the same timeframe (or very close in history) as the one in which it enters
the market as an item of monetary exchange.
On the product and the functions of the product/work of art, see: Codignola, F., ‘The Art
Market, Global Economy and Information Trasparency, in Symphonya. Emerging Issues in
Managemen (, n. 2, 2003.
See: Becker, S., Art Worlds, University of California Press, 1982.
For the theories of Market-Driven Orientation or Market-Driven Management, see: Best, R.,
Market-Based Management, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005; J.J, Lambin, Marketing strategico e
operativo, Market-driven management, Columbus, OH, McGraw-Hill, 2000; Day, G., Market
Driven Strategy, Processes for Creating Value, New York, The Free Press, 1999. For these theories
applied to the arts: Troilo, G., Addis; M., ‘Building Market Orientation in Arts or Cultural
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Institution, in AIMAC Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 2001; Mattiacci, A., La gestione dei beni
artistici e culturali nell’ottica del mercato, Milan, Guerini e Associati, 1998.
For example, from the galleries’ viewpoint, the selection of the artists and the works to sell, and,
from the auction houses’ viewpoint, the choice of the works to handle at each sitting. But also the
creative piloting in relation to or on the part of the artists themselves in their approach to demand.
See: Hill, E., O’Sullivan, C. e O’Sullivan, T., Creative Arts Marketing, Butterworth-Heinemann, 1995.
See: De Biase, F., Genovese M., Pessinotto L., and Saggion, O., Manuale delle Professioni
Culturali, Turin, Utet, 1997; Evrard, Y., ‘Culture et marketing: incompatibilité ou reconciliation?’, in
Proceedings of the First International Conference on Arts Management, Montreal, Canada, 1991, pp.
37-50; Hill, E., O’Sullivan, T. and O’Sullivan C., cit., 1995; Holbrook, M., Consumer Research:
Introspective Essays on the Study of Consumption, Sage, 1995; Scheff, J., and Kotler P., ‘Crisis in the
Arts: The Marketing Response’, in California Management Review, n. 1, pp. 28-52, 1996; Spranzi, A.,
Economia dell’Arte, Cescom, Università Bocconi, 1996.
See: De Biase et al., cit., 1997.
See: Evrard, cit., 1991.
See: Shostack, L., ‘Breaking Free from Product Marketing’, in Journal of Marketing, n. 2,
April, p.73, 1977; Carù, A., ‘Il contributo del marketing dei servizi all’evoluzione degli studi di
marketing’, in Sinergie, n. 40, May-August, pp.69-93, 1996.
See: Volpato, G., Concorrenza Impresa Strategie, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1995; Valdani, E. and
Botti, S., Dall’evoluzione alla coevoluzione, dalla concorrenza all’ipercompetizione, Working
Paper Series, n. 27, Dipartimento di Marketing, Egea, 1996.
See: Spranzi, A., Economia dell’Arte, Milan, Cescom, 1996.
See: Busacca, B., L’analisi del consumatore, Egea, 1990; Kotler, P., Marketing Management, ISEDI,
Cf. Busacca, B., ‘Consumatore, sistema motivazionale del’, in Marketing, Turin, Utet, pp. 236-239,
See: Hirshman, E. and Holbrook, M., ‘Hedonic Consumption: Emerging Concepts, Methods and
Propositions’, in Journal of Marketing, n. 46, Summer, pp. 92-101, 1982; Holbrook, M., and
Hirshman, E., ‘The Experiential Aspects of Consumption: Consumer Fantasies, Feelings, and Fun’,
in Journal of Consumer Research, n. 9, September, pp. 132-240, 1982; Belk, R., and Bryce, W.,
‘Christmas Shopping Scene: From Modern Miracle to Postmodern Mall’, in International Journal of
Research in Marketing, n. 10, pp. 277-296, 1993.
Cf. D’Harnoncourt, A., ‘The Museum and the Public’, in The Economics of Art Museums,
University of Chicago Press, pp. 35-39, 1991; McLean, F., ‘A Marketing Revolution in Museums’,
in Journal of Marketing Management, v. 11, pp. 611-616, 1995.
See: Douglas, M. and Isherwood, B., Il mondo delle cose, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1994; Lury, C.,
Consumer Culture, Polity Press, 1997; Gainer, B., ‘Ritual and Relationships: Interpersonal
Influences on Shared Consumption’, in Journal of Business Research, n. 32, pp.253-260, 1995;
Kelly, R., ‘Culture as Commodity: The Marketing of Cultural Objects and Cultural Commodity’, in
Advances in Consumer Research, v. 14, Association for Consumer Research, pp.347-351, 1987.
See: Johansson, J., cit., Columbus, OH, McGraw-Hill, p.17, 2005.
Where supply is concerned, we must consider the sector of new proposals in which there is
always strong competition between new artists or new trends, whose works fall into the same
category of cultural products. Other examples of contexts with fierce domestic competition are the
main international auction houses, and galleries that specialise in contemporary art operating in the
same territory with the same target segment, but we must also think of the competition between
contemporary art fairs, which have now also become international.
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Edited by: ISTEI - University of Milan-Bicocca ISSN: 1593-0319
See: Colbert, F., Marketing delle arti e della cultura, Milan, Etas, 2000, pp. 72-79.
By ‘pure’ gallery owners and collectors we refer to that bracket that purchases and collects according
to their own personal taste and with the primary goal of personal gratification. Clearly even the latter,
particularly gallery owners, may subsequently sell to the public the works they originally bought for
For example, the international network of Christie’s or Sotheby’s auction houses, the many
branches around the world of a private gallery (Marella Gallery, etc. which recently opened branches
in China) or even of a museum like the Guggenheim, which also has several ‘branches’ dotted
around the world.
Cf. Colbert, F., Cit., 2000, p. 73.
See: Colbert, F., Ibid, 2000, pp.73-76.
Cf. Ibid, p. 75.
Cf. Ibid, p. 75.
Cf. Ibid, p. 76.
According to the Art Market Trends 2004 research conducted by Artprice, the United States
account for a turnaround of $ 1,322 million and a record of approximately 30.000 lots sold by
auction; they have a clear position of hegemony in relation to other countries. Similarly, American
auctions possess 45.5% of the total visual arts market (against 42% in 2003). Behind this growth is
first and foremost an increase in selling volumes (+15%) and prices (+18.5% in New York),
accumulated as a result of the growing number of millionaire auctions (in New York in 2004, 229
works passed the $1 million mark, compared to 132 in 2003). The competition that leading auction
house are having to face simultaneously raised the quality of the works traded in 2004. Behind this
evolution there are other important factors: the inevitable democratisation of the art market, the
return to economic growth in the main marketplaces, the falling value of the Dollar, but also the
search for alternative investment. See: Art Market Trends 2004, Artprice, (
With 26.9%, London is in second place in the world and the first in Europe for auctions of
visual arts: the data for the London market are calculated in relation to those of New York. All the
indices are rising: prices (+14% in twelve months), sales volumes (+9%), turnover (+22%), and
finally, 69 lots exceeded £1 million. By these criteria, the United Kingdom is followed by France,
Italy and then Germany. See: Art Market Trends 2004, Artprice,
Where auction houses are concerned, although it is true that at a sale the work of art starts
‘democratically’ from a relatively accessible price, in just a few seconds it reaches very high peaks because
of the high purchasing power and therefore the bids made in the room by most of the public present.
We refer you to the data provided in:
For the online auction phenomenon, see: Codignola, F., cit., 2003.
See: Ibid.
See: Bertello, V., ‘Arte Friezante sul Tamigi’, Il Giornale dell’Arte, n. 249, December, 2005.
See Pepe, C., ‘Il doppio sistema distretto/canale nei percorsi internazionali delle piccole
imprese’, in Gaetano Esposito (edited by), La globalizzazione dei piccoli. Fattori di competitività e
promozione dell’internazionalizzazione delle pmi, Franco Angeli, Milan, 2003; Pepe, C., ‘Connotati
organizzativi dell’impresa per il mercato globale’, Sinergie, n. 60, CUEIM, Padova, 2003.
See: Codignola, F., cit., 2003.
Cf. Ibid, g. 15.
For example, information about prices of works sold at auction is available instantaneously and
worldwide on the Internet; the same is true for the indices and rankings of the artists based on the
turnover achieved at auction, with interesting indications of the state of the market and ongoing trends.
© SYMPHONYA Emerging Issues in Management, n. 2, 2006
Edited by: ISTEI - University of Milan-Bicocca ISSN: 1593-0319
Cf. Menger, P., ‘L’hégémonie parisienne. Économie et politique de la gravitation artistique’, in
Annales ESC, nov./déc. 1993.
Cf. A. Quemin, ‘La dimension territoriale de l'art contemporain’, in Pratiques, n. 1, 2002.
Seven of the first ten artists in the Artprice ranking of the most quoted artists born after 1960, are
British: the large majority are supported by the most prestigious galleries like Gagosian, Anthony d’Offay,
Saatchi, Sonnabend, etc.). They are followed by Italian Maurizio Cattelan, Japanese Takashi Murakami
and German Franz Ackermann. The élite of these new generations of artists include the Young British
Artists segment which has acquired a strong reputation following the successful event Sensations. Even the
young artists launched by collector Charles Saatchi are able to create a proper event at auction sales or
other types of sale, like the British Frieze Art Fair. See: Art Market Trends 2004, in
Cf. Perlmutter, H., ‘The Tortuous Evolution of the Multinational Corporation’, Columbia
Journal of World Business, 1969, pp. 9-18.
See: Battiston, E., ‘La Cina dei miracoli’, Flash Art, April-May, pp. 118-119, 2006.
For example, B.T.A.P. (Beijing Tokyo Art Projects) which has a gallery in Tokyo and another in
Beijing, the Urs Meile Gallery, which has a gallery in Lucerne, Switzerland, and a branch in Beijing, or the
Continua Gallery which also has branches in both San Giminiano and Beijing, like the Marella Gallery of
The thoughts of Zhu Tong, curator and coordinator of the first contemporary Chinese auction
held this year in Nanking, are quoted in: Battiston, E., cit., pp. 118-119, 2006.
The largest Chinese auction houses are: China Guardian, Beijing HanHai, Huachen Auctions,
Poly International Auction and Forever.
See: Mason, B., ‘Ricchi asiatici e collezionismo occidentale’, Il Giornale dell’Arte, n. 248,
November, 2005, p. 76.
See: Adam, G., ‘Piacerà la Cina contemporanea ai cinesi d’America?’, Il Giornale dell’Arte, n.
251, February, 2006, p. 59.
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