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Book Review
‘Understanding International Art Markets and Management’ by Iain Robertson
"There are inherent beauties in art; the beauty of the object; the joy of collecting; meeting and talking with people, and the excitement of the hunt. There is the diversification potential of art in one’s portfolio as well."

The above observation was made by Professor Michael Moses at New York University’s Stern School of Business. The art expert has stated: “You might think that you can’t invest in fine art. But you most probably can!”

But for a new entrant, expert insight and advice are essential. Those conversant with the market and its mechanics hold all kinds of updated information regarding the marketing, showing, and trends of contemporary art. With a common investor in mind, Iain Robertson compiled an informative book titled ‘Understanding International Art Markets and Management’. The title of this book in a way summarizes the broad theme of the publication.

Iain Robertson offers keys to approaching contemporary art markets. The book is for those keen on understanding the art market and the way it behaves. This has always been a complex subject. And the broader the perspective, the tougher it gets to understand the markets. But the author makes it palatable with his user-friendly narration and his lucid style.

One needs to have solid background and in-depth knowledge coupled with a comprehensive database to deal with the markets. This is exactly what the book ‘Understanding International Art Markets and Management’ (Routledge, London and New York, 280 pages) does.

It emphasizes the necessity of merging art and management, theory and practice. In order to grasp the whole gamut of issues, one needs to unite different contrasting and complementary approaches. Iain Robertson tries to answer some of the apprehensions and doubts faced by prospective art collectors. He deals with the theme in the context of the fact that there has been as apparent shift from a local to a global perspective in the past few years. Art markets have gone global, in terms of not only the geographical extension, but also the diffusion of new artistic influences.

The book largely focuses on various streams of visual art - paintings, drawing, sculpture, and prints – and the emerging trends. It clearly maps the art market structure, defining its scope, the players involved in it, its various driving forces, the relationships between dealer and artist, collector and artist. He makes us understand that art markets are driven not only by consumer behavior, but also by world economic and socio-political events. This seems very pertinent in today’s times. The forces are palpable, but can hardly be controlled.

The author also provides an analysis of the global markets, bringing out how some of the major art markets have fared over the last decade or so, starting from the US and European markets and then tracking the new emerging South-East Asian markets. He writer skillfully weaves inputs from experts in the art, finance and managerial domains.

The book brings together experts in the domain of visual art markets to address some fundamental issues to check out the feasibility of art as a form of alternative investment. The outcome is a holistic view of the international market. It discusses dominant forces in the art market and also the potential of the emerging markets to underline what probably are the good buys in art.

Written by an international art expert, it is a must-read for those studying or interested in art markets and management. The publisher of the book, Routledge, primarily dabbles in academic books, journals and intellectually enriching online resources. Founded in 1836, the institution has published works of many of greatest thinkers and scholars.

A key message to be drawn from ‘Understanding International Art Markets and Management’ is that the true joy lies as much in appreciating art as in investing.