Image Source: Oda/Bay Area News Group

What’s Next For Artists & Collectors After Gallery Closures?

By Claire Moraa

  • Betty Cuningham, Cheim & Read and Helena Anrather among other art galleries have shut their doors between December 2023 and April 2024
  • Online art sales have grown in the last two years to $10.8B, up 6% from $10.2B in 2021

Gagosiar, Simon Lee, Betty Cuningham are just some of the art galleries that have taken a hit and sunset their services. The closure of art galleries has had a significant impact on artists and collectors alike, with both groups now having to navigate new challenges in the industry. The art industry has been taking a hit notably falling 4% to lows of $65 billion which has been the lowest in the last three years.

Why This Matters: Galleries are a primary venue for showcasing artwork and connecting with potential buyers and their closure can limit the visibility and opportunities available to artists. But this has been a long time coming. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the art market, leading to a decline in sales and foot traffic to physical galleries. Auction rooms which account for 37% of sales had their doors shut and sales worth $ $16.6 billion were lost.

At the same time, technological advancements have made it easier for artists and collectors to buy and sell artwork online. Online art sales had a positive growth of 6% reaching highs of $10.8 billion and contributed to a two-year accelerated growth in the industry. Online platforms provide a broader reach and accessibility, allowing artists to connect with a global audience and collectors to access a vast selection of artwork from the comfort of their homes.

Still, the closure of physical galleries cannot go understated. Not only does it give you a physical experience but also helps you feel like you belong to a community through networking. In addition, galleries often provide storage, insurance, and other logistical support that can be difficult for artists to replicate on their own.

Situational Awareness: It’s here and it’s not going away. The rise of digital technologies and online marketplaces has provided alternative channels for artists to sell their work and for collectors to discover new artists. And while the art market has taken a hit in the last three years, artists and collectors can still salvage this moment. Gallery closures present challenges, but they also open up new opportunities to engage with art in innovative ways through digital platforms, technology, and community-driven initiatives. Collectors may need to be more proactive about seeking out new artists and discovering new works outside of traditional gallery settings.

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