Has anyone ever bought art online

Art market: You don't love art, you invest in it

The art of the present comes to life. More and more people - and above all ever richer - are investing in works by living artists. These are welcome guests at parties for very important people. Art fairs are overrun by the public, and there are unimaginable increases in value. Contrary to all forecasts, the art market is doing well. And yet: the uncertainty is great. Will it go on like this? For how much longer? And what's next?

The financial crisis that started in 2008, commonly also called the economic crisis or simply the crisis, changed a lot. For most of them, it has changed little for the better. What remains are austerity programs and a widening gap between poverty and wealth, all problematic phenomena, the effects and consequences of which will be struggled for generations after those who caused the crisis.

Contrary to other expectations or fears, depending on the point of view, the crisis has not caused the immeasurably grown financial market to shrink, no taming of wild capitalism and no return to "true values", to simplicity and frugality, honesty and substance . Not even in the art world. On the contrary: it is more expensive to buy and sell than before 2008, and there is apparently more money in circulation than ever. Probably also spurred on by the assumption, which was widespread across many channels, that the bubble on the art market could expand indefinitely without ever bursting, some people would rather invest their money in art than in previously reliable assets such as real estate, gold or stocks. The island of contemporary art is inundated by a tsunami of capital, say art market observers, capital comes from new markets, money from new art lovers.

The art market is a market that functions according to its own rules. Anyone who is successful in an area as an investor or entrepreneur does not have to achieve similarly high margins with the trade in contemporary art. Supply and demand are in a different relationship to one another than in other markets. Works by old masters are housed in museums, bunkered in depots or in circulation in the art trade - new originals don't appear every day. Living artists, on the other hand, can produce what is required of them. If they can't do it on their own, they hire employees and expand their studios, sometimes into factory-like production facilities. What is sold, when, for how much and to whom, is at the discretion of the galleries, who not only represent artists on the art market and advertise their works to customers, but also co-finance larger productions and generally ensure that everything goes well.

What also distinguishes the art market from other markets is an aesthetic understanding of the matter that is less needed for raw materials or financial products. The virtue of a passion for the fine arts, the ability acquired through extensive visual training to distinguish good art from bad, appreciation for an image in itself - beyond auction auction or gallery prices. This quality is still held in high esteem by "true" collectors, this distinction from the greedy investor who pursues the vulgar pleasure of speculating in art, of loving it solely for its increase in value.

In their pamphlet "Money eats art. Art eats money" recently published in Edition Suhrkamp, ​​Markus Metz and Georg Seeßlen write: "The bank that understands art as a calling card, and the hopeful, high-earning young person who is looking for the work of art to match the color of the wall, correspond perfectly to each other. " And further: "On the way from the inner world of the super-rich to the single-family houses of the winning medium-sized companies, art literally becomes ready-made goods. Art should match the lifestyle and furnishings, but also the indirect self-image of the proud owner. You are no more fascinated as much by the power of art as it is how one can gain power over it: art has become the newest auspicious planet of capitalism's 'inner land grab'. "

Taste is irrelevant, expertise can be bought, and if you don't have space in a loft in Manhattan or in a chalet in southern France, you can simply store the trophy you have bought. It is undesirable for an artist if his work ends up in the warehouse any more than if it is resold. "The ideal is, you buy it, you hang it on the wall and it stays there," said the British artist Damien Hirst in an interview.

Even his one-time supporter, the extremely wealthy British collector Charles Saatchi, who has the bad reputation of promoting and pushing artists in order to sell their work profitably, the excesses of art investment have become too much. In a 2011 Guardian comment, he wrote that even a show-off like himself finds the new super-rich art buyers vulgar and depressingly superficial: "Are there any of them who enjoy looking at art? Or do they just enjoy it, owners to be of easily identifiable trademark art that they have bought for staggering sums in gross auction rooms to decorate their homes and yachts? "