Week4- Masters in Modern and Contemporary Art, History of the Art Market
The American art scene experienced tremendous growth as a result ofincreased wealth in the 19th century widely viewed as theindustrialization age since people were able to spend enormous sumsof money on artwork. To protect their interests and improve sales,American artists formed unions and associations that were gearedtowards improving market conditions. One of these associations in theAmerican Art Union (AAU) that was formed in the 1880’s although itonly lasted for three years before closing doors out of failure toachieve set goals. This union was a replica of the old AAU thatlasted between 1838 and 1852 amid a few changes. Another artinstitution associated with the AAU in the National academy of Designthat has had a strong influence in New York since 1826. Over theyears, it had affiliations with the Society of American Artists thatwas viewed to some level, contentious.
American artists faced a number of challenges most of which werecentral to the formation of the above stated institutions to createfavorable conditions. Key among these challenges was stiffcompetition from the European market that had a significant impact ontheir art sales. During this period, majority of collectors hadalready acquired American art and slowly began to shift their focustowards European art that caused a major shift in the art market.American artists felt that their work was being ignored by collectorsand dealers who were taking advantage of them compounded by lowviewership by the public. Additionally, they faced constant criticismfrom the press to pile more challenges on the already divided artistfactions that all posed potential hazards to their survival andoverall success1.
Houser, Craig. 2012. Disharmony and Discontent: Reviving theAmerican Art-Union and the Market for United States Art in the GildedAge. Vol. 11. Association of Historians of Nineteenth-CenturyArt. http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org/summer12/craig-houser-disharmony-and-discontent.
1 Houser, Disharmony and Discontent: Reviving the American Art-Union and the Market for United States Art in the Gilded Age,1-12.