H. d’Ursel: “Art goes beyond investment, it is a daily passion”

Decision makers. How did the contemporary art market mature so quickly?

Hubert d’Ursel. Contemporary art fell into disrepair by the year 2000. In fact, since the 1990s, we have seen the art market fall due to the financial crisis in Japan. The Japanese, who at the time were great speculators in the art of Impressionism, bought the paintings in order to later resell them at a profit. This phenomenon became significant and lasted for several years before the country disappeared from radar, which then led to the collapse of the art market and prices. It was not until the 2000s that contemporary art gained momentum, especially for some artists, such as Anselm Kiefer, who at the time exceeded the most expensive price for a living artist. Since then, we have seen an influx of artists who have become very famous. Due to the phenomenon of globalization, many wealth has been created in several previously developing countries, such as China, Russia, Brazil or even the Middle East.

Creating wealth goes hand in hand with the art market and prestige…

Absolutely! Wealthy people buy art, and this phenomenon is repeated in history. We felt it quickly, because today the world is changing faster. Contemporary art has captured modern Impressionist art, and the works of these two movements are sold at exorbitant prices due to the many offers.

“Wealthy people buy art, and this phenomenon is repeated in history”

We also note that in all developing countries – in the Middle East, but especially in China – the creation of public or private museums and art centers. Reasonably, China’s big auction houses and galleries were already selling well in major cities thirty years ago, and when China, the world’s second-largest art market after the United States, saw that the wave had changed over the past fifteen years, the country was booming. fashionable Western artists such as Jeff Koons, Christopher Wool and Louise Bourgeois. They then presented their work to wealthy Chinese at trade fairs in Shanghai or Hong Kong, which allowed the Middle Kingdom to integrate the art market. Finally, this very short period, marked by a phenomenal acceleration, when supply and demand caused a boom in contemporary art, allowed the market to globalize.

How is art a relevant investment tool?

Art has value and is determined by supply and demand. Thus, the more investors bet on the artist, the greater his value and overall quality goes hand in hand with demand. As an integral part of heritage, art goes beyond investment and is a passion, unlike unrealistic assets. However, art is a niche that is a small part of the heritage and does not bring a steady income, but remains important in the lives of investors. It also offers tangible investment, an aspect that has proved important, particularly during the health crisis. Finally, art can be overused at exorbitant prices, while there are works available to everyone that are good investment opportunities.

What are the current trends in the art market?

This sector is changing significantly. We remember the pop art movement, represented by Andy Warhol, an iconic artist and then an abstract artist. In recent years, the trend is colorful and figurative. Some artists, including Magritte, returned to surrealism, discovering colorful paintings filled with poetry. Among the materials that are often used in modern art, we can highlight the failure and porcelain. Despite its attractiveness, the art market is associated with many risks that require the involvement of specialists and time to avoid making mistakes in their investments.

Has the pandemic changed investment in art?

The health crisis was an incredible electric shock in the sense that access to art was limited. Almost all major fairs were canceled for two years, and galleries were closed for several months. This moment was capital for those who survived and absorbed themselves into the digital age: auction houses and large galleries rapidly multiplied their digital offerings to such an extent that their visibility remained unchanged and they were able to maintain their strength. Within months, large auction companies such as Christie’s have adapted perfectly, allowing art to become sustainable and continue to sell despite closures. After the pandemic, the fairs returned en masse.

“The world has changed, but traditional sales will continue”

In addition, digital technology remains a significant tool: last March in London, I attended Christie’s big digital sale and sat for several hours, amazed to see live auctions from New York to Hong Kong, traveling through all the capitals. world. Of course, the world has changed, but traditional sales fairs will continue, because nothing can replace a real work of art, especially if it has value.

How good is it to invest in art in 2022?

The best way is to keep track of new artists and current trends with advice from an independent expert to help you make a purchase. In addition, it is necessary to check that the work was in good condition, with a good pedigree. Finally, buying with your heart is important! It is better to invest a little, but well and dedicate yourself to the best works of the artist. Everyone has better menstruation than others, so it is important to be accompanied by a good expert.

Interview with Juliet Woods