As reported by CNN, the Turkish modern art market has seen a tremendous shift in fortune in recent years. After being given the cold-shoulder for decades, Turkish art is finally being recognised. What are the reasons for this success? Read on to find out.

The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art funded by the Eczacıbaşı family. Photo: © Franz Conde.

The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art funded by the Eczacıbaşı family. Photo © Franz Conde.

Click here to read the article, titled “The boom of the Turkish art market”, in its entirety on CNN.

Turkish modern, contemporary art market booming

Kerimcan Güleryüz, art dealer, owner of Empire Project art gallery, and the son of Mehmet Güleryüz, who is one of Turkey’s most famous living painters, tells CNN,

Unfortunately, until five or 10 years ago … the number of artists I could count who were making a living just off of their work was three to five, maybe. Now you can look at a work from Taner Ceylan being put in the Sotheby’s auction and reaching more than 280,000 pounds sterling (USD444,000).

Examining the results from Sotheby’s Turkish art sale brings to light just how quickly the  Turkish art market has grown.

In 2009, [on] 4 March, Sotheby’s Turkish art sale held its first auction of Turkish modern art in London. The auction grossed more than USD2 million in sales. The next year, those numbers nearly doubled.

Art galleries have mushroomed in Istanbul, and in particular in the popular district of Tophane. Turkish participation in the international art circuit has also increased through participation in fairs. Rampa Gallery, for example, participated at Frieze art fair in London in 2011. The Istanbul Biennial, too, has contributed to a real change of taste in the local art scene by introducing sceptical local collectors to contemporary art.

Speculation, celebrity, taste

Speculation, celebrity factor and change of taste are cited in the CNN article as the main reasons for collecting in Turkey today. “‘Turkish people like trends,” Turkish artist Kezban Arca Batibeki says to CNN. “When [collecting art] became a trendy movement, they began buying contemporary works.”

Kerimcan Güleryüz states that “Turkish modern art has become a valuable commodity” and that “art is a business on its own”, two local market traits that have been supported by economic stability and growth in the past ten years. CNN states that within an hour at the local Nisantasi Auction House, more than USD300,000 worth of Turkish art had been sold to buyers who were “looking for something valuable to invest in”.

The “celebrity factor” is important as well. As Batibeki notes, “very few [collectors] buy because they love the piece.… Most of them are buying because you’re famous.”

Patrons still play key role?

2009 report on the Turkish contemporary art market published by ArtTactic shows that a key factor in the development of the local contemporary art scene is the involvement of private and corporate patrons. As noted in the CNN article, traditionally, wealthy industrialist families have been the biggest art patrons.

Local and international banks and corporations also continue to play a major role, such as Yapı ve Kredi BankasıBorusan HoldingSiemens and Garanti Ban (Platform Garanti hosts curated exhibitions, local and international residencies, workshops and lectures).


Related Topics: Turkish art venues, Turkish artists, art collectors

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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