Confidence in the International Photography Market Reaches an All-Time High

Confidence in the International Photography Market Reaches an All-Time High

According to the latest ArtTactic Photography Market Confidence Survey published in December 2013, the overall confidence in the international Modern and Contemporary Photography market, increased by 7% in the last 6 months. The Indicator currently stands at 75 (a reading above 50 implies that there is more positive market sentiment than negative). After a 38% jump in the Confidence Indicator between November 2011 and May 2012, the market confidence has risen by 9% in the last 12 months, signalling a continued positive outlook among the experts in the international Modern and Contemporary Photography market.

A more positive outlook for the economy resulted in a 40% jump in the Economic Indicator from 51 to 71 (signalling a much more bullish sentiment for the economy), and was the main driver behind the recent increase in confidence for the Photography market.

Int3Experts expect the market to continue to go up in the next 6 months
In terms of market direction for Modern Photography, the outlook remains the same as 6 months ago. 57% of the experts believe the Modern Photography market will go up (versus 92% in November 2012), a further 43% think it will be flat or no change (versus 8% in November 2012). None of the experts believe the market will fall in the next 6 months. For the Contemporary Photography market, the outlook has improved from April 2013, with 41% (up from 33%) of the experts expecting the market to go up in the next 6 months.

Photography Auction Sales up 36% in 2013
The international Photography auction market has gone from strength to strength since the downturn in 2009. The total auction sales of photography for Phillips, Sotheby’s and Christie’s came in at $50.7 million in 2013, up 36% from 2012. The increase in sales was largely driven by the Modern Photography market, which saw sales increase by 22% from $18.7 million to $23 million. The Vintage Photography market saw a 125% increase from $7.3 million to $16.4 million in the same period. Contemporary Photography sales remained unchanged at $11.2 million between 2012 and 2013, and accounted for 22% of the overall sales of photography.

African Photography Outlook
Int2The positive market sentiment is also likely to benefit the African photography market, which is already gaining international curator and collector interest, especially as photographer Edson Chagas from Angola won the prestigious Golden Lion Prize at the Venice Biennale in 2013. Malick Sidibé, a Malian photographer, who noted for his black-and-white studies of popular culture in the 1960s in Bamako, won the same prize in 2007.

However, the auction prices for many of the top African photographers are still low compared to many of its international peers. Photographs by Malick Sidibé, typically sell for less than $5,000 at auction. Other artists such as the internationally renowned South-African photographer, David Goldblatt recently sold Selected Images from the Transported of KwaNdebele (1983/84) – a set of eight photographs for $42,000 through Phillips in New York, an auction record for the artist.

It is likely the price gap between the African and international photography market will narrow on the back of the recent surge in interest and demand for African art both by domestic and international buyers.

Anders Petterson is a leading authority on art market research, with particular focus on the global contemporary art market. He is the founder and Managing Director of ArtTactic (www.arttactic.com), a London-based art market research and advisory company set-up in 2001.


Anders Petterson is a leading authority on the art market, with a particular focus on the modern and contemporary emerging art markets. He is the founder and Managing Director of ArtTactic Ltd, a London-based art market research and advisory company set-up in 2001. He previously worked at JP Morgan in the investment banking division, responsible for debt capital market and structured products for banks and corporates. He worked as an independent research and evaluation consultant for Arts & Business in London between 2002 and 2007, and has been involved in a number of large research and evaluation projects in the cultural sector. Petterson is lecturing on the topic, Art as an Asset Class for CASS Business School and Sotheby’s Institute in London. He is a Board Member of Professional Advisors to the International Art Market (PAIAM), and a founding member of the Art Investment Council (AIC).

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