Where does art go when it gets cold? Where do art prices go when it’s time to trim the economic fat? Whatever shrinkage occurs collectors will have us all walk in the room as they change out of their swim trunks next month at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Holding auctions on November 8th and 12th respectively, the big boys will double down on the art market’s ascendance in the past decade. Is there truly an aesthetic side to their participation in contemporary art? If so then they may fare better than the rest of the market, if not then perhaps we will consider other avenues to fund the artworld’s massive bureaucracy. Returning to mid-century grants to artists seems highly unlikely given the rise of liability concerns, and the non-profit system currently waning will be hit by the market crash from both sides, as they lose on both investments and incoming donations. Luxury goods, paintings, may be the closest to safe, like money market accounts, but the current global artworld capacity is still too small for paintings to hold value.
Oh! They just pulled a Picasso from the Sotheby’s auction an hour ago. Well, I guess that’s shrinkage. The auction houses are betting that Abu Dhabi will save them, which makes me wonder if they pump their own gas. Probably not. Saltz’s dire predictions may come true, but now is not the time to lament those who have mortgaged their future, it is an opportunity to look to new systems of distribution that may leave us with a mutated, hideous version of the art market, cross-bred with Target and etsy.com. With seven mouthes and dozens of malformed limbs, this short-lived movement will have artists making dimes off of downloaded screensavers and art writers getting a cut of students reading for classes, cross-Atlantic brand wars among middle class consumers, corporate performance art, rural grafitti, regionalism in public works, restructuring of schooling to allow for twenty years of higher education and travel, travel, travel. Hell, P.1 in New Orleans might be the artists and an audience from Houston and Atlanta. Wouldn’t that be fun? I only know one person from Atlanta, and she says the strip clubs are great. So what else is there in Atlanta?