The 2022 Art Market Review: NFTs, Diversity, and Young Consumers

As the art market began to recover from the pandemic, several trends emerged in 2022 that may be indicators for the future.

The first art market trend is that of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) — are they still dominating, or have they fallen out of popularity? Towards the beginning of 2022, Yuga Labs, founders of the NFT brand Bored Ape Yacht Club, purchased cryptocurrency brands CryptoPunks and Meebits to form a massive conglomerate. Works like “Clock” sold for more than $53 million in the cryptocurrency Ethereum, and the revenue from sales went to fund the legal efforts of Julian Assange. Unfortunately, by May 2022, cryptocurrencies began to crash, which was only exacerbated by the enormous collapse of the crypto exchange FTX in November. So now, the future of NFTs is up in the air as they explore new distribution and sales methods.

Next, art collection is beginning to come back into style. As young consumers are becoming more interested in creating "capsule collections" of only a few expensive luxury clothes, they are also aiming to expand their minimalistic urges to artworks. By seeing art as an investment and saving for a few high-end pieces, being an established art collector can be a reality rather than a dream. Younger demographics are also driven to collect art because auction houses have dedicated many of their recent proceeds from sales to humanitarian efforts, such as support for Ukraine.

Finally, the types of art being sold are more abstract, expressionist, and created by fledgling minority groups. Collectors are interested in up-and-coming Millennial and Gen Z creators who are black, indigenous, or otherwise people of color (BIPOC) or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ). Millennial Lucy Bull's abstract painting “8:50” sold at Phillips in Hong Kong for $1.5 million, a record-breaking auction debut. Additionally, 29-year-old Jadé Fadojutimi's two abstract paintings sold for $614,000 each before the Gagosian's Frieze London art fair even opened its doors.