Ask ArtFacts Part II


Dear Reader,

You asked and we answered. Thank you to everyone that sent in questions for last month’s Ask Artfacts. For our 15th anniversary, we decided to give back to our subscribers by inviting them to ask us their burning questions to be answered using Top Data.

We chose a question that addresses the duplicity that plagues the art world. People ask us all the time, why do some artists prosper immediately, while others gain fame post-mortem? Why do some sell steadily, while others show with nary a penny to their name, years later, or never? We can answer these questions by measuring trends over the years, as well as quantifying the subjective to provide insight.

We call it Top Data, you can learn more about it by clicking here.

Our featured question comes from E.H.

Dear ArtFacts,

I went to NYC where I meet a well known gallerist. He said in order to make it in the international art world, one needs either a famous curator to stand behind them, a famous museum to show them, or a famous arts magazine to publish their work.

He also said that certain gallerists make arrangements concerning who to push towards fame! So ArtFacts, Is that true? If that is indeed the case, is it true that 99,99 percent of us have no chance at all?


Dear E.H.

Things are not as dire as they seem, depending on how you look at the situation. The playing field may certainly not be equal for a variety of unmeasurable reasons, but each artist has the obligation to present their work to as many people as possible, and not every gallerist is swayed by politics. There’s also your definition of success to consider. To you, what is having a chance? Is it gaining millions in sales, or showing at the Gagosian?

Here are the hard facts you’ve come to us for. First, we looked at our catalogue and determined that of the artists in our database listed in the Mei/Moses Index, .01% (approx. 400) are sold and traded constantly. Think Andy Warhol or Picasso, for example. 10% of artists in the index (approx. 40,000) are traded and sold occasionally. And the remaining 90% (approx. 360,000) do not have an established secondary market and don’t show up at all, meaning that little of their work has been bought, traded, or re-sold. Often, they have only a few auction records, if any. That being said, many artists gain curatorial success without representation or measurable sales. That’s the kind of success we measure.

Plenty of successful artists have had no gallery representation but still have a high ranking on ArtFacts.Net. Notable examples Nástio MosquitoKasper Akhøj, Lieko Shiga, and Kristina Norman. All of these artists had their first shows after 2005.

What’s the takeaway? It’s hard to break into the market and make millions, but it’s not at all impossible. You might be a high-ranking artist with little in sales but a lot more in fame. Success is entirely subjective. That uncertainty is what makes the world of art so exciting, mysterious, and worthwhile as an artist, regardless of a number.

–Team ArtFacts

PS: Have another question? Please write to us at [email protected] with the subject line “Top Data”.

Last month, we headed to Spain for a whirlwind weekend at Arco, Drawing Room, Art Madrid, Just Mad, We Are FairCasa Leibniz, and Room Art Fair. Here are a few of our favorite images from the fairs. Click through to view each artist’s profile. We hope to see you at the next event.

Art Prague

When? 15.3.2016 – 20.4.2016
Where? Prague, Czech Republic

Art Dubai

When? 17.3.016 – 19.3.2016
Where? Dubai, U.A.E.

Art Basel Hong Kong

When? 24.3.2016 – 26.3.2016
Where? Hong Kong, China

Art Central 2016

When? 24.3.2016 – 27.3.2016
Where? Hong Kong, China

Art Paris

When? 31.3.2016 – 3.4.2016
Where? Paris, France

Art Cologne

When? 14.4.2016 – 17.4.2016
Where? Cologne, Germany

Kölner Liste

When? 15.4.2016 – 17.4.2016
Where? Köln, Germany

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