Growth in Art Business Schools

The HuffPost recently published an interesting article on the growth of Master of Arts degrees from Sotheby's and Christie's.  The article states Sotheby's Institute which is owned by Cambridge Education Group and licenses the Sotheby's name will grant 300 Master of Arts degrees this year, compared to around 75 or 80 from 10 years ago.

I believe many of us in the appraisal profession have seen the increase of young professionals with excellent art history and art business degrees entering the appraisal profession.  Perhaps the only thing missing is experience, but many are also coming with auction specialist or gallery background. Competition of course will increase especially for choice assignments, but overall the growth and increased professionalism good for the appraising profession.

The added competition and skill sets of new appraisers should be a wake up call to many seasoned appraisal professionals. Existing appraisers should make sure they are current with educational requirements and standards, are considered qualified appraisers based upon the new 2018 AQB personal property qualification criteria, and are keeping pace with new and changing technological platforms.

In addition, existing professional appraisers should be looking to increase and expand their appraisal practices to include art related services such as brokering, art advisory, expert witness testimony, appraisal review, etc.

The HuffPost report
How can one gauge the ever-increasing reach of the art market? Perhaps, it’s the growing number of art fairs around the world or the series of new record-setting multi-million dollar prices paid at auction for works by Francis Bacon, Edvard Munch, Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne and so many others; perhaps, it is the growing scale of art thefts or how often stories about art purchases and frauds make the front page of The New York Times. All quite valid. Perhaps, however, it is also the increasing number of students looking to learn about the business of art at the schools set up by Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

“We’ll be awarding 300 Master of Arts degrees this year,” said David Levy, president of Sotheby’s Institute, which has campuses in London, New York City and Los Angeles where students learn the business of art. “Ten years ago, there were maybe 75 or 80.” The reasons for the almost four-fold increase is “the explosion in the art market. People see the art market correctly as one of the most dynamic areas of the global economy, and they want to be a part of it.”

Among what these students learn is art evaluation, which includes both connoisseurship and appraising in some specialized field, the differences between the market for one type of art and that of another, the legal and tax issues involved in the domestic and international art trade, how to market and sell artworks in galleries, at art fairs and online “and in the future. How and where will art be sold in the next 10 years?”

Students also learn some art history in the area of fine and decorative art in which they look to specialize, but their aim is not to become scholars and art historians. “When they graduate college,” Levy said, “many art history majors see their only option as getting a Master’s and then a PhD in art history, which is fine for people who want to teach art history, but not everyone does. A lot of college graduates get jobs in art galleries, but their skills don’t prepare them for the asset-driven art market, and that’s where we come in.”

While Christie’s runs its education program, Sotheby’s licenses its name to the Bethesda, Maryland-based Cambridge Education Group, which operates Sotheby’s Institute. “We are very closely associated with the auction house,” Levy said. “Their specialists teach in our program, and our students are in and out of Sotheby’s all the time.” One of the central differences between a traditional art history Master’s degree program and those offered by both Christie’s and Sotheby’s, he added, is that students aren’t just looking at pictures of artworks but go behind the scenes at the auction houses, handling the objects, talking to collectors, appraisers, museum curators, dealers, conservators, auctioneers and other people involved in the art trade.

Students at both Sotheby’s Institute and Christie’s Education generally represent a mix of recent college graduates, those who have been out of college for a number of years but who haven’t fixed on a career and others who have worked in one field for a while but want to make a change. “We have quite a few lawyers and accountants who want to try something else, refocus their skills,” said Veronique Chagnon-Burke, academic director of Christie’s Education. “The reports of record sales and huge prices for works of art have driven many of those career-changers our way.”

As one might expect, many of these students see the schools associated with the two largest art auction houses in the world as opportunities to find employment there, and “We do watch out for top talent,” Chagnon-Burke said. “Our students have mandatory internships at Christie’s and, every year, we hire some full-time. Some of our graduates get jobs at Sotheby’s, too.” However, most internships don’t turn into jobs, and Levy noted that while “a lot of people come into this program thinking they’ll get a job at Sotheby’s. They need to be disabused of that idea.”

Neither Christie’s nor Sotheby’s closely tracks what becomes of their graduates, but many of them do work in some facet of the art trade – in galleries, as art consultants, in an auction house, as art appraisers and even some artists. Levy stated that between 10 and 15 percent of the Sotheby’s Institute students have undergraduate studio art degrees. “I learned about the business side of the art world, such as how to approach a gallery from the perspective of a gallery owner, as well as the significance of art fairs and the legal side of selling your work,” said New York City painter and printmaker Madeline Aguillard, who received her Master’s from Christie’s in 2011. As an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, she had double-majored in studio art and art history, but wasn’t so fully set on a direction that she wanted to enter either a Master of Art History or a Master of Fine Arts studio. However, “after the Christie’s program, I left with a desire to work more on my own art and apply to MFA programs.”
Source: The HuffPost 

No comments: