The Art Market, Explained: How and Why a Patron Supports an Artist

What motivates patrons to fund artists’ wildest dreams? How has the concept of art patronage changed over time? And what’s behind the dramatic rise of private art museums? In the third installment of “The Art Market (in Four Parts),” we explore how and why patrons support artists and their careers, from the Medici family’s backing of Michelangelo’s work during the Renaissance to today’s most influential collectors, museum donors, and behind-the-scenes benefactors. Patrons and art-world influencers like Eli Broad, Maja Hoffmann, Josh Baer, and Sarah Thornton provide their insights.

Patrons is the third installment of a four-part documentary series, preceded by Auctions and Galleries and followed by Art Fairs, released weekly through mid-June. Together, the four segments tell a comprehensive story about the art market’s history and cultural influence.


This series is directed by Oscar Boyson and produced in collaboration with UBS.


—Artsy Editors