The future of the art world and its business is perhaps in a more interesting state than it has ever been. This century will certainly bring more changes to the arts and culture industry than we have seen in the last one thousand years.
New trends and players will revolutionize our concepts and ideas. Out of the major players today – whether artists, architects, or gallerists, only one or two will do down in the art history books. The primary reason will be that the shifts will be swifter and trends shorter.
Some of the major trends during the first half of the 21st century will be:
Revival of paintings
After a slight decline in its popularity, especially in the museum and gallery circles, art collectors and lovers will revive the trend of paintings in art, as the most popular medium. As a consequence, artists, followed by galleries, critics and museums will be forced to return to paintings.
Comeback of pre-20th century art
Late-19th century and early-20th century trends will make a comeback, along with some of the more classical art forms. 21st century artists will go retro and find inspiration in what now seems to be so antiquated.
Modernization of the gallery business
Some of the dated concepts that have plagued the art business will soon disappear. Galleries will be forced to become sophisticated retailers and will begin employing strategies that are currently used by luxury and other retail companies. Artists will benefit from these changes and will force galleries to stop using ridiculous techniques like exclusivity clauses in their contracts, a trend already visible in the major Asian markets.
Disappearance of small galleries
It will be an era of large generalized galleries and small specialized galleries. Galleries will have to define themselves as large retailers, similar to say a Saks or a Harrods or transform themselves into very specialized boutiques. The gallery will either have to cater to a large audience or to be recognized as an expert in a particular niche. The hobby-gallerist or the socialite-turned-gallerist dealing with a mish-mash of a dozen painters, photographers, a printmakers and video-artists will soon become part of the history books.
Popularization of photography and printmaking
With the fast-growing open-minded middle class worldwide, we will see limited-edition art forms become extremely successful. Less inclined to follow in the footsteps of collectors before them, these up-and-comers will have more individualized and sophisticated tastes and will push the multiples to a new height,
Decline in the viability of video art
While Video and Media-based art will continue to strive at museums, on the Internet and in our lives, the commercial viability of this art form will be in severe doubt. A signed copy of a limited-edition video by a well-known artist will not have the cache, if the same video can be downloaded on the Internet, for free.
Asia will become the 2nd most important art market
The economic domination of Asia will be reflected in the art markets. This will be a windfall for Asian artists , during the next 20 years, as wealthy Chinese and Indians, amongst others, continue their rampage of “heritage” acquisitions. However, in the longer term, it would be a boon for other artists as well, as Asian tastes become more global. It is only a matter of time when the Asian appetite for Picassos and Warhols and emerging art from Europe, Americas and Africa, will become insatiable.
China, India and Japan will dominate in Asia
Amongst the Asians, the 2 Billion+ Chinese and Indians, along with the Japanese, will dominate the art markets. While at first, they will focus on their own national artists, it will soon create an interest in broader South Asian and South East Asian art. The severe shortage of contemporary art fairs and museums in this region will come to an end and we will see an amazing number of new art centers and events, in cities like Mumbai and Shanghai.
Convergence of Art, Architecture and Design
We will get used to the acronym AAD, as art, architecture and design converge. The future will consist of an artist design a building, an architect designing jewelry, and a designer making an art object. The future superstars will be a Zaha Hadid meets Pablo Picasso meets Mark Newson.
The United States will remain the biggest and the most exciting art market
All is not lost for the U.S.. Americans will remain the biggest art buyers and most of the art superstars will still continue to be Americans. One of the primary reasons for this continuation is that in today’s cosmopolitan world, there is no society as cross-cultural as the U.S. As global tastes converge, it will be the cross-cultural Americans who will transcend countries and tastes and give us the most interesting ideas for the 21st century.
Physical auctions will disappear
The guys wearing the suits and pounding hammers will disappear. While auctions while still remain an important way for selling expensive artworks, the new technologies will ensure that the golden days of physical auctions are over.
African contemporary art will become the trendiest art style
The last frontier of contemporary art – Africa, will come to the forefront. Global trend-setters will finally bring into limelight, Africa and its artists. Currently, plagued by the lack of trained artists creating interesting art, economic development will lead to the establishment of African Arts.
Art fairs will decline in popularity
New technologies and larger galleries will lead to the declining importance of art trade fairs. There will be a significant consolidation in the art markets and similar to the world of galleries, the art fairs will decline in numbers.
More people than ever will buy art
Economic growth and more sophisticated tastes will imply that more people than ever will patronize the arts. This will be a great time for artists and certain galleries and auctioneers.
Museums will have to be successful commercial enterprises to survive
All art institutions, including the state-owned museums will have to become entrepreneurial and cater to the tastes and whims of the public. In a way, their approach will have to become more sophisticated. Often, these museums will have to collaborate with private entities. While the number of museums in Europe has grown significantly in the recent years and it now seems that every city over the size of 200,000 now has a museum, some of them will have to close due to market saturation.