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Art Market

The Art That Collectors Care about Today

Artsy Editors
Jul 28, 2021 2:00PM

This article is part of “Art Collecting 2021: An Artsy Report.” To download a PDF of the complete report, click here.

In addition to asking collectors how they discover, buy, and sell art, and what motivates those decisions, we also wanted to know what art they actually collect—what work inspires, moves, and motivates them.

Percentage of collectors who prefer to buy works by emerging artists

Based on Artsy’s internal data.

Among all respondents, 60% said they prefer to purchase works by emerging artists. This preference was even more pronounced among Next-Gen Collectors, 63% of whom said they prefer to collect works by emerging artists. These findings mirror collector behavior on Artsy’s marketplace, where works by emerging artists are among the most sought after.

Artists with the greatest surge in demand 2020

Based on Artsy’s internal data.

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The artists who saw the biggest leaps in demand on the platform in 2020 were a racially diverse cohort of predominantly emerging artists. Among the 20 artists who had the biggest increase in demand over the last year on Artsy, 15 were artists of color. Among that group, there was also a near-balance across male and female genders, with women artists accounting for 9 of the top 20. And, beyond a handful of more established figures like Luchita Hurtado and Tomashi Jackson, the list skewed young and emerging, including fast-rising figurative painters like Gerald Lovell, Cassi Namoda, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Jon Key, Esiri Erheriene-Essi, and Genesis Tramaine.

Roughly a quarter of collectors surveyed said that collecting works by minority artists was important to them. These collecting priorities align with the art world’s growing awareness that the artistic canon historically excluded women and BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) artists, as well as a desire among curators, gallerists, acquisition committees, and others to champion a more diverse and inclusive range of voices.

Artists with the most demand overall 2020

Based on Artsy’s internal data.

Overall, 45% of collectors surveyed expressed a preference for collecting works by established artists. Marketplace activity on Artsy bears this out: The artists with the most demand in 2020 included blue-chip artists like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Yayoi Kusama, and Takashi Murakami, and well-known figures associated with street art such as KAWS, Banksy, and Keith Haring. Another 37% of collectors said they prioritize collecting works by established artists who have secondary markets, suggesting an interest in reselling works in the future.

Artsy Editors

Thumbnail image: Alvin Armstrong, detail of “To Change Now,” 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Zorina Gallery.

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019