Turkish art another fad? The lowdown on this new market

TURKISH ART MARKET INTERVIEW

In the week of Sotheby’s inaugural sale of Turkish art, Art Radar gets the lowdown on the Turkish art market from Anders Petterson, Managing Director of research company ArtTactic.

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Sotheby’s holds its inaugural sale of Turkish contemporary art  this month – why is Turkish contemporary art receiving attention now?

The local art scene in Turkey has experienced a boom in new art institutions since 2004, from galleries, artist-run spaces, privately funded museums and art centres, to art fairs and auctions. At the same time the value of the domestic Turkish art auction market has quadrupled in the eight years after 2000. The international auction houses have been keeping a close eye on these developments and are beginning to test the market now.

But what about the recession? Does it make sense for Sotheby’s to launch a new category now?

Yes this is a valid issue. Arguably this is not an ideal time to launch a new category, perhaps the decision was made in better times. On the other hand there is a base of collectors and strong institutional support. Unlike other emerging art markets this is an art scene with an established infrastructure which has been overlooked by international collectors. Furthermore Christie’s tested the market in October 2008 when it included Turkish modern and contemporary artists in the Dubai contemporary art sale. Eleven of the fifteen lots sold which was a robust result.

Istanbul holds its Biennal in 2009 and will become the European Capital of Culture in 2010 which could give the arts scene further impetus over the next year or so.

Are there any other auction houses selling or planning to sell contemporary Turkish art?

There are several local auction houses and it is rumoured that Phillips de Pury and Bonhams plan to follow in the footsteps of Sothebys.

Is there a secondary market? Which are the leading galleries focusing on contemporary Turkish art?

The gallery scene has expanded considerably over the last two years. New galleries have opened showing  cutting edge art alongside the more conservative galleries which date back to the 80s and 90s. If you are interested in delving further, our report on the Turkish art market profiles approximately a dozen galleries with information about when they opened, who runs them and what kind of art they focus on.

Are the contemporary artists in the Sotheby’s auction new to the auction scene or do they have an auction history?

Out of the artists born after 1950, 44% have never sold at auction and most of the rest have sold a few works in domestic auctions in Turkey. The exceptions are Mustafa Horasan, Kezban Arca Batibeki, Bedri Baykam and Kemal Onsoy who sell frequently at auction.

It sounds like this auction will be an intereting test for the future of theTurkish art market. If it is successful will it be yet another international art market fad?

While this is possible of course, I hope not. In its favour is its strong infrastructure of galleries, curators, museums and not for profits. Read our report for information on the most important of these in each category. Prices of Turkish art are cheap relative to Indian, Iranian and Chinese art and that could help too.

Find out more about ArtTactic’s 20 page report on the Turkish Modern and Contemporary Art Market Feb 2009

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