Lorenzo Rudolf

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SUCCESSFUL STRATEGIES, CONCEPTS AND PERFORMANCES IN THE (CHANGING) ART WORLD / ART MARKET

about

SUCCESSFUL STRATEGIES, CONCEPTS AND PERFORMANCES IN THE (CHANGING) ART WORLD / ART MARKET

The art world, and especially the art market and its clientele, is undergoing major changes. How can we successfully act and position ourselves in such times?

Known for his accurate analysis and comprehensive knowledge of the art world / art market – which, in the end, mirrors our economic, geopolitical and social reality -, Lorenzo Rudolf is a pioneer and leading expert of the industry, responding to its challenges with forward-looking strategically, conceptually, artistically and economically successful solutions:

The 1990s

Technical achievements like the mass expansion of communication (cell phones) and the internet, played an important role in the development of a neo-liberal economy and of globalization. The fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the end of the communist era and the dominance of the US as the only remaining super power, led to the establishment of a free trade economy in the 90s, which encouraged an explosion of contemporary art as a new form of investment, and artistic production succumbed to financial power.

Response:

Art Basel

Under Lorenzo Rudolf’s direction Art Basel was transformed with a totally new art fair concept into the world event as it is up to today: A top brand, a museum-like art experience, an exclusive social event, a successful business, and, with the creation and launch of Art Basel Miami Beach, a global player. [ details see "Bio" ]

The 2000s

The notion of contemporary art as a “Western activity” was no longer the only acceptable standard. New booming cities and artistic centers like Sao Paolo, Mexico City, Moscow, Dubai, Mumbai, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul or Singapore became urban metaphors for the truly tectonic shifts in the cultural, economic and political landscape. With China we had for the first time a non-Western art scene where global taste has been forged ... and the yellow giant was rapidly becoming the powerful locomotive of the unstoppable Asian rise.

Response:

Art Basel

Together with two partners, Lorenzo Rudolf created and realized ShContemporary in Shanghai (2007/08), the first international art fair of worldwide recognition in Asia: Asia’s own competitive market platform, boosting its contemporary art market and creating a new self-awareness (particularly in China). [ details see "Bio" ]

The 2010s

Artistic centers were no more limited to certain Western capitals, but widely dispersed all over the world. Due to economic development - with, as a consequence, social and political liberation - and to global networking, artists no longer emigrated to the West and new independent art scenes and art markets steadily grew. Although artistically strong and interesting, they lacked the necessary professional infrastructure, and often they did not come beyond local or regional success. A typical example was Southeast Asia.

Response:

Art Basel

With Art Stage Singapore - and subsequently Art Stage Jakarta - Lorenzo Rudolf, together with his wife Maria Elena, put Southeast Asia on the global art map. The fair was the region’s flagship and necessary catalyst, and opened to the Southeast Asian art scenes the door to the international art world / art market. [ details see "Bio" ]

And the 2020s?

We are facing increasingly turbulent times, generally as well as in the art world / art market, and it will be more important than ever to set today the course for tomorrow. Can the art industry, often captured in once successful structures and traditions, afford not to develop sustainable responses to the (new) challenges confronting us? This on an individual level as well as on the general level ... where we can now observe two main trends demanding new solutions:

I. The polarization in the art world / art market

Vertical / structural polarization I

How can we create (again) a healthy balance between the art market becoming more and more dominant - and obviously mostly pursuing its own interests - and serious and transparent independent academic guidance which is increasingly losing importance and influence? Beside artistic quality, a sustainable art world, including its market (!), needs diversity, contradiction and confrontation - styling, fashion and saleability are not enough -, if not it risks sinking into an uniform, monotone and shallow mainstream ... and in oversaturation and boredom.

Remark:
In particular the (new) unexperienced buyers and investors want / need to rely on trustworthy information and guidance ... if not, sooner or later they will feel exploited and will turn away ...
Vertical / structural polarization II

How can we better bridge the constantly increasing gap in the art industry between the few dominant, globally omnipresent mega players (galleries, art fairs) - the financially sound top brands - and the many engaged but struggling middle class actors, increasingly excluded from international market access / acceptance and hence often fighting for survival? A sustainable art market needs a healthy, strong and innovative middle class, if not it loses its basis and breeding ground.

Remark:
Without a prospering middle class, there is also no blooming elite ... and vice versa ...
Horizontal / geographical polarization

How can we, in an increasingly global world, overcome the still prevailing Western supremacy and achieve a more balanced art world / art market? A sustainable international art market has to respect and to pay tribute to the new scenes and markets, most of them proud and self-confident of their origin and their culture, if not it will increasingly be confronted with negativity and accusations of colonialist paternalism.

Remark:
The biggest growth potential of the global market is in the "New World"... as long as we take it seriously and do not see or treat it as a naive and clueless outlet market for mediocre works not sold / sellable in the "Old World"...

II. The changing clientele in the art market

In the analogue market I

How do we adapt ourselves to a new, demanding but volatile clientele with limited knowledge, for whom buying / collecting art is one of various exciting leisure activities where they expect an exclusive experience providing

  • social recognition and status (buy a prestigious luxury good),
  • cultural recognition and status (buy a prestigious piece of art),
  • a worthwhile investment (making a purchase that can profitably be resold)?

A sustainable performance in the art market means not only to offer good art, it means also - even in a sellers’ market - to align yourself to the (changing) needs and demands of the customers ... otherwise, they will always find an alternative.

Remark:
The behavior of the clientele will not change, on the contrary, the upcoming millenials clientele will even intensify the trend ...
In the analogue market II

How do galleries adapt themselves to a new, demanding but volatile clientele that almost exclusively frequents art fairs (and no longer the galleries)? How do galleries handle the double burden of, on the one hand, as many as possible participations at (expensive) art fairs - certain galleries generate over 80% of their turnover at art fairs -, and, on the other hand, their very labour- and cost-intensive traditional gallery business? Many galleries increasingly no longer manage this balancing act ... and the art fairs, increasingly affected by this development, don’t know how to react. A sustainable art market needs a healthy, well-balanced, diversified and innovative gallery scene ... the same applies to the art fairs market ...

Remark:
The behavior of the clientele will not change, on the contrary, the upcoming millenials clientele will even intensify the trend ...
In the digital market

How do we adapt and extend the market to a new, demanding but volatile clientele with limited knowledge, who want to purchase their piece(s) of art online, in an easy but serious and professional way without any risks? Why do the various digital platforms trying to establish themselves in the art market, with various concepts, not really prevail so far? A sustainable digital art market has its own digital logic, concepts and business models ... but first of all it has, just like the analogue market, to satisfy the expectations and demands of the (new) clientele ...

Remark:
The behavior of the clientele will not change, in the contrary, the upcoming millenials clientele will even intensify the trend ...

Progression and changes entail new challenges and difficulties. But progression and changes bring also new opportunities. Challenges are there to be mastered, and difficulties are there to be overcome. The winners will be the courageous, innovative and forward-looking ones ...