Art Trends 2022: How a revitalised art market must still navigate the ongoing impact of COVID-19

Artissima 2021 Visual identity The art market at the end of 2021 is a complex animal.

Resurgent and revitalised, it is also still tainted by ongoing uncertainty and the threat of closures, postponements and cancellations.

At the top of the market, the world’s leading auction houses have all reported bumper years. The two biggest players, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, both saw their total global sales surpass $7 billion, while Phillips enjoyed the best year in its history, achieving $1.2 billion, up 32% on its pre-pandemic 2019 results.

For other important market players, though, the current situation is less straightforwardly optimistic.

As scientists scrutinise the severity of the Omicron variant and politicians implement new restrictions – or else play a waiting game, holding on to the threat of restrictions yet to come – organisers of high profile physical art events must remain alert.

The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) has already decided to postpone its March fair in Maastricht, with the hope that it will take place at an as yet unscheduled date later in the year.

With TEFAF Maastricht having closed early in 2020, before being postponed and then cancelled in 2021, the latest COVID-induced disruption to one of Europe’s biggest art events does not augur well for a smooth year ahead.

Exemplifying the tensions such disruption can cause, dealers set to attend the March fair have been left to question if and when the event will now go ahead. Should it not, TEFAF has stated that exhibitors will each be liable to lose up to €7,500 in participation fees already paid.

As the Chairman of TEFAF’s Executive Committee, Hidde van Seggelan, explained to Euronews:

“This has been an incredibly challenging time for both TEFAF and our exhibitors. Until recently,plans for TEFAF Maastricht in March 2022 were progressing, however, the volatile COVID-19 situation meant that a decision to postpone was inevitable. TEFAF has a full-time team of eighteen and it will come as no surprise that the organisation has incurred significant costs to-date during the fair planning stages.

Unlike other fairs, TEFAF is a not-for-profit foundation and as such, TEFAF is not able to underwrite the fair. On the basis that TEFAF Maastricht can be moved to later in 2022, all exhibitor payments to date will be rolled over.”

Meanwhile, organisers of other big European art fairs remain hopeful that their events will go ahead as planned. One of the earliest fairs scheduled to take place is ARCOmadrid , from 23-27 February. Following a downsized version of the fair this summer, the 2022 edition is set to return to its normal winter slot, marketed as its 40 (+1) Anniversary. ARCOmadrid’s Director, Maribel Lopez, says that, “as of today we are optimists for a better fair than in 2019 and 2020, in terms of quality, quantity and collectors.”

Cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID, another event hoping to be well clear of restrictions introduced this winter is Belgium’s premier contemporary art fair, Art Brussels, scheduled to run from 28 April to 1 May.Anne Vierstraete, the Managing Director of both Art Brussels […]

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