Large Scale Sculpture Market

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Large Scale Sculpture

Two large sculptural artists who have been successful selling to varied markets include Jeff Koons and Richard Serra. Both have stood out by using creative mediums, provoking the media and public opinion, and surrounding themselves by influential people.

Jeff Koons

  • Large sculpture artist Jeff Koons was born in York, PA in 1955. He currently lives and works in New York City.
  • Koons is a contemporary Neo-Pop artist, focusing on transforming consumer objects and transforming them into oversized, shiny sculptures, like those of "kitschy souvenirs, toys, and ornaments."
  • His best known works include Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988), the Made in Heaven (1990–1991) series, Puppy (1992), Balloon Dog (Orange), and Rabbit (1986), which just set the record for most expensive work ever sold by a living artist, fetching a price of $91.1 million at a Christie's auction.
  • Aside from selling to private collectors via auctions (having twice set the record for most expensive work every sold by a living artist with Rabbit and Balloon Dog (Orange)) and to dealers, Koons also sells directly to private owners via his studio. Koons's work Coloring Book, valued at $8 million, is part of the arena for the Sacramento Kings. Koons has also worked with city governments, like that of Paris, to display his art. In 2013, he designed the album cover for Lady Gaga's album Artpop and in 2014, he partnered with H&M to use an image of his art on a handbag.
  • Koons has called himself a "crowd-pleaser", and he avidly promotes his own work. His strategy focuses on challenging "top collectors to revise their notions of what fine art looks like," by making expensive work that looks cheap in order to challenge economic logic.
  • One of the most successful, and groundbreaking, parts of Koons's selling strategy was having the buyers pay for the actual manufacturing of the art, which, due to the perfectionism of Koons, generally costs more than the art is actually worth.
  • Koons also surrounds himself and partners with influential people in the art world. Since they have a stake in his works, it is of interest to them to keep the prices for Koons's pieces high, and they have the influence to do so.
  • Koons is also a master manipulator of the media, utilizing scandal and provoking comments to attract a lot of press attention, and thus increase the value of his works.

Richard Serra

  • Richard Serra, who creates large sculptures of out steel as well as other mediums, has been called the world's "greatest living sculptor." Serra's work "emphasizes materiality and an engagement between the viewer, the site, and the work."
  • Serra is most well-known for his massive works of steel, including his most famous work "Tilted Arc", which is no longer in existence. With this piece and others, Serra created the idea of site-specific art that redefines the site.
  • He has had an extremely successful career of more than forty years, including works such as LA Cone and Schulhof’s Curve, which sold for more than $4 million and close to $3 million respectively at Christie's auctions.
  • Aside from private collectors, Serra has also sold to public bodies, like the City of New York, private businesses like Broadgate office and retail estate in London, and at the Tuileries Garden in Paris.
  • Serra chose his medium — metal — and style — architectural — based on the fact that no one else was doing it; it allowed him to be unique.
  • Serra has been provocative and rebellious, suing the city of New York after they removed a piece his artwork and engaging in political art. These stunts have, obviously, increased his name recognition.
  • In his early career (1960s), he belonged to an underground art scene in New York City, including members of the Judson Church group dancers, whom greatly influenced his work. During this time, Serra stated, having dealers and collectors like your work was a sign of having "sold out", or become mainstream. He notes that that has changed, and in current times, the artists are much more engaged in actively marketing and selling their work.
  • Serra relies heavily on art shows at museums and galleries to display and market his work. He also works with dealers.
  • When he sells his work on commission, the works come with legal contracts describing how they will be installed, and how, or if, they can be dismantled. While this was not standard practice at the time, Serra says it now is after being frustrated with how his early works were treated.
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Art Sculpture Market Trends

The global art and sculpture market is fueled by the different regions across the world. The regions can affect the global market either positively or negatively. Below are a few trends that outline how the market is impacted by purchasing of large-scale sculptures.

Auction Houses

  • United States is the hub of some of the most prestigious dealers' circles and auction houses for art and sculpture sales. This indirectly impacts the global market as North America is one of the major contributing regions.
  • These dealers and auction houses offer the authenticity that customers need to make investments and assure them of risk- and fraud-free purchases.
  • Many collectors in this region are willing to go beyond limits to acquire artworks that they wish to purchase.

Government Support & Tourism

  • In Europe, the arts market is majorly funded by the public and the government provided £406 million worth of funding for the market in 2015. Europe is a large region and impacts the global market significantly.
  • Europe is a large exporter of artworks due to their abundance. As a result, 60% of their artworks are exported.
  • Art fairs, exhibitions, and major auction sales also attract high-value visitors to the region, which is also a driver of the regional art market.

The Changing Consumer Mindset

  • Consumers are increasingly investing in art and sculptures not to 'collect' them but to invest in profitable artworks and then selling them at a profit for attractive ROIs.
  • Several companies have also walked in on the scene and they are offering mutual funds, specifically for art and sculptures, to interested customers. These mutual funds are usually set up for a period of 4 years.
  • The customers use these mutual funds to subsequently invest in profitable artworks and then earn a profit. This is a global phenomenon and hence it is impacting the global market directly.

Expensive Artworks and Sculptures

  • The trend of buying expensive artworks, like Jeff Koons' silver rabbit which sold for $91.1 million, is becoming increasingly common in the art market globally.
  • The driving force behind this trend are "a small group of wealthy collectors who pay astronomical prices for works made by an even smaller group of artists, who are in turn represented by a small number of high-profile galleries".

Research Strategy

We have outlined some trends in the global art sculpture market. All of the trends have been identified by renowned market research firms, which are well-versed with the current happenings in the market and outline trends within the industry. In doing so, we went through several different market research reports and have outlined the most relevant trends.