Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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Art market

core definition

The art market is a nebulous conglomeration of institutions (galleries, auction houses) that are involved in the buying, selling and commissioning of paintings.

explanatory context

Dealers in art have existed on and off for more than 2000 years, but there have been times in history when dealing has virtually disappeared or been carried out by amateurs (diplomats, etc). The art market can only exist when art objects are made for general consumption and not specifically commissioned for a particular purpose.

analytical review

Corbett (2012) reported research on the size of the art market :

How big is the global art market? A new report from The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF), released in conjunction with the current TEFAF Maastricht art fair, Mar. 16-25, 2012, sets the total size of the global art market at €46.1 billion, or about $60.8 billion (€1 = $1.32) for 2011. According to economist Clare McAndrew, who conducted the study, the €46.1 billion figure includes both public auction data, which was supplied by...Artnet database, and an estimate of art gallery and private art dealer sales, which is based on polls of over 6,500 dealers around the world as well as interviews with a somewhat smaller number.

By way of comparison, the art market total is just about one-twelfth of the U.S. military budget for 2011, which was $739.3 billion, according to the Institute for Strategic Studies.

In McAndrew’s estimation, the $60.8 billion is about equally split between auctions and commercial gallery sales. Take the auction half first -- the global art-auction total for 2011 was €23.1 billion ($30.5 billion). Total auction sales at both Sotheby’s and arch-rival Christie’s are put at $5.7 billion each for 2011, which adds up to $11.4 billion, or about 35 percent of the global auction art trade.....

associated issues


related areas

See also


art history


Corbett, R., 2012, 'Art Market Watch: How big is the flobal art market?' available at, accessed 21 November 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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