Italian job: The Venice biennale, which in the past has showcased works such as this statue, entitled Alison Lapper Pregnant by British artist Marc Quinn, will run from May 11 to November 24 under the curatorship of Ralph Rugoff. Picture: REUTERS
Italian job: The Venice biennale, which in the past has showcased works such as this statue, entitled Alison Lapper Pregnant by British artist Marc Quinn, will run from May 11 to November 24 under the curatorship of Ralph Rugoff. Picture: REUTERS

The general feeling from abroad is that the 2019 art market will be bearish with an expected downturn in overall sales. This view is supported by the slowing in global growth, escalating gallery running costs, as well as rising interest rates. Even political uncertainties are seen as a swaying factor that could impact the mood of the market.  

The tumultuous events surrounding Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, may shrink the hundreds of millions of dollars per year which the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund pumped into art acquisitions and cultural events. For collectors, a downturn in the art market usually signals a buyers environment where works become more plentiful at lower prices.

Nevertheless, we can look forward to a year of discovering and learning more about art. The 58th edition of the oldest biennale in Venice will run from May 11 to November 24 2019. Ralph Rugoff from London’s Hayward Gallery is the curator and his goal is to connect the precarious existence of mankind in the present turbulent epoch. Under his direction, the 2019 exhibition will focus on fresh formats rather than on a particular theme and introduce a new presentation structure.

Some of the top museums have revived themselves through major structural extensions which will offer viewers new visual experiences. The expansion project at the Museum of Modern Art in New York is set to open mid-2019. The architects Diller Scofidio and Renfro enlarged the entrance and display areas on the upper floors to introduce a renewed circulation network between the expanded spaces and the existing lobbies. Fresh flexible spaces dedicated to staging contemporary design, performance pieces and film formed part of the project.

The architecturally impressive atrium of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town’s Waterfront. Picture: SUPPLIED
The architecturally impressive atrium of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town’s Waterfront. Picture: SUPPLIED

Closer to home, valuable philanthropic endeavours led to the launch of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in 2017 and the Louis Norval Foundation in 2018 in Cape Town. Both these institutions have exciting exhibitions scheduled for 2019. The Norval Foundation is kicking off with three exhibitions covering works by David Goldblatt, Yinka Shonibare, and a selection of works from the Sanlam Collection.

At the Zeitz Museum, a group show by contemporary artists from Africa and the diaspora will investigate the phenomenon of travel and migration through imagined, alternative realities that reference both fixed and immaterial locations. The highly anticipated Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria, which will house nine dedicated exhibition spaces, is also set to open later this year.

Art fairs continue to proliferate around the world and 2019 will see the launch of four additional fairs. The Frieze franchise is launching a new event at Paramount Pictures Studios in Los Angeles, while a second contemporary art fair on Hollywood Boulevard, titled Felix LA, is set to open on February 13.

Two new contemporary art fairs will also be opening in Taipei Dangdai, Taiwan and Singapore. The latter two fairs are aiming to entice the established collectors living in these wealthy countries with the latest trends in contemporary art.

Cape Town is kicking off with the Investec Cape Town Art Fair from February 15-17 2019. A significant number of galleries and exhibitors from around Africa and the world will showcase their top artists. Strauss & Co’s second contemporary art auction hinges on the periphery of the fair, while Aspire Art Auctions will launch their autumn auction of historic, modern and contemporary art on March 3 2019. 

The number of art events lined-up for 2019 is bound to offer collectors and art lovers great enjoyment with educational and buying opportunities. A good sign is when an artwork, encountered at a gallery or studio, intrigues and inspires you. No matter how experienced you are in buying art, there are always details to consider, especially when planning to spend a significant amount of money. 

Firstly, we recommend never to feel pressurised to conclude a purchase. Know your personal taste and make sure that the work will fit into your environment. Do proper research and avoid the temptation of purchasing an artwork without determining the quality of the materials. Poor materials will not age well and can lead to the work’s deterioration and its concurrent depreciation in value.

In the secondary market, or when purchasing online, it is important to determine the condition and authenticity of the artwork. The history and provenance of a work is important to know in order to avoid possible future ownership disputes.

Sticking to your budget will avoid buyer’s remorse. Also remember that acquiring art often includes hidden fees such as packaging, shipping, insurance, and installation costs.

Should your aim be to acquire art as an asset base in order to grow wealth, it is important to determine whether the creator’s style is original and that it is not an imitation of an established movement or based on another artist’s creative style. Experienced art advisors can provide guidelines in these matters.

• Scott is a partner in Walker Scott, who offers end-to-end art management services.