It hasn’t been a great year for young artists. Their market was already limping as 2016 began, and things didn’t get much better as the year ground onward. And while it could be argued that the dazzling boom and bust of a few 26-year-old white male skateboarders-cum-abstract-painters isn’t representative of thousands of other emerging artists, the spectacular market failure of that one, tiny group had a much broader cooling effect on the market: With collectors suddenly questioning the value of their not-insignificant investments (no matter how rich you are, watching your $100,000 painting go to $20,000 in a few months has to be unpleasant), a crisis of confidence resulted in some very good galleries going under.
And yet: That same uncertainty has begun to benefit artists and the art world more generally. Without the pressure on a $14,000 artwork to serve as an immediate investment vehicle, the art world has returned, at least partially, to the process of making and selling interesting, thought-provoking artworks.