We examine how the contemporary art market has changed as a result of the disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus. Based on interviews with artists, collectors, a dealer, and an auction house executive, we argue that the decline of face-to-face interaction, previously essential to art market transactions, has placed strain on each corner of the community. In the absence of physical co-presence with the artworks and art world actors, participants struggle to evaluate and appreciate artworks, make new social ties, develop trust, and experience a shared sense of pleasure and collective effervescence. These challenges especially impact the primary gallery market, where participants emphasize a communal commitment to art above instrumental speculation, which is more accepted in the secondary auction market. We find a transition to distant online communication, but the likelihood of this continuing after the lockdowns end and the virus dissipates varies according to the subcultures of these market segments.
- Art market
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science