The primary and secondary art market in a nutshell

You may have heard people talk about the primary and secondary art market. MyArtBroker, for example operates in the secondary market, which essentially means the art piece has already been sold, at least once. This week, we’ll be looking at intracies of these markets and how to make it work for your collection!

The Primary Art Market
When an artwork becomes available for the very first time, either directly from the artists’ studio, from the gallery representing the artist or at any other art exhibition or art fair, this is referred to as the primary art market. This is when the price for the artwork is established for the very first time. Often, this price is set by the gallery or dealer selling the art work in partnership with the artist themselves, based on a number of factors including; the cost of the artist’ time taken to create the piece, any research involved and the materials required to bring the piece into fruition. In addition, the demand for that work, i.e. how popular or sought after the artist is, will influence the final price. As you’d expect, the greater the demand for the artist, the higher the price the art could commend on the primary market.

Where to find primary art market pieces? Typically, these pieces come from the artist themselves, or their partnership gallery or dealer. Think of them as ‘hot off the press’ so to speak – buying in the primary art market is risky and requires dedication! To be committed to researching and exploring art fairs, knowing which artists are releasing new work or preparing for a solo exhibition, building relationships with dealers and gallerists will all put you in a good position to start acquiring primary market art.

How much can I expect to pay? In general, you can expect that primary prices will be lower than what you’d pay for the same piece when (or if!) it reaches the secondary market (i.e. the first buyer comes to sell the piece). Typically though, you wouldn’t buy from the primary market if you were looking to pick up a bargain, you’d buy from the primary market because you love the artist or because you’re looking to make a good return. In a few years’ time a primary art purchase may be worth ten times what you paid for it; conversely, you may not be able to sell it at all. It all depends on the stature of the artist in question. This is the risk you take, but as they say ‘the greater the risk, the greater the reward.’

Next Monday: The Secondary Market, what does it mean and how do I access it?