Is the Old Master market making a come back?

Vanity Fair looks in to the interior designers juxtaposing Old Masters with unexpected backdrops to create a fresh take on continuity and antiquity. In a world where Modern and Contemporary art reigns supreme, Emily Tobin talks to The Fine Art Group’s in-house art expert Guy Jennings on the departure and recent return to Old Masters.

Guy describes the change in tastes which resulted in a move away from Old Masters and the rise of the Contemporary art market in the 1990s, as new young collectors ditched the opulent style of their parents houses for sleek Italian furniture and flashy new canvases. As such, it became increasingly difficult for dealers of Old Masters works to compete at the art fairs, ‘with the glamour of Frieze and the new notion of collecting Contemporary art as some kind of spectator sport’, says Guy.

Guy attributes the recent shift back to Old Masters to its relative affordability by comparison to the exponential prices of Modern and Contemporary. Tobin points out that we are still at the beginning of the curve, with the appetite for Old Masters only appearing in a few select areas. The often acutely religious subject matter of Old Master works is something which may distance the modern purchaser, but as Guy points out, ‘is there really any difference between Picasso’s mother holding a baby or a Madonna and Child?’. Contemporary art will continue to lead the way, but this wave of interior designers appreciating art across the ages, will certainly bring new life to the Old Masters market.

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