Art Market Shifts from Old Masters to Contemporary

The New York Times:  Can the Old Masters Be Relevant Again?

Old masters, new world.

At Christie’s over the last few weeks, two experts in old master paintings and drawings quietly left the auction house.

Their departures followed a year of spotty sales, in which the values of works by old masters — a pantheon of European painters working before around 1800 — fell by 33 percent, according to the 2016 Tefaf Art Market Report.

At a time when contemporary art is all the rage among collectors, viewers and donors, many experts are questioning whether old master artwork — once the most coveted — can stay relevant at auction houses, galleries and museums.

Having struggled with shrinking inventory and elusive profits, auction houses appear to be devoting most of their attention and resources to contemporary art, the most popular area of their business. — The New York Times

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