Fine Art Categories Market Performance : A 2022 Overview

Fine Art Categories Market Performance : A 2022 Overview
Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel (c. 1480) selling for a record price of $92.2 million at Sotheby’s in 2021. Source - Sotheby's

The global art market is a complex and dynamic ecosystem, with auctions playing a pivotal role in shaping trends and setting records. This report, based on the Art Basel and UBS Art Market Report 2023, provides a detailed analysis of key findings in the fine art sectors, focusing on Post-War and Contemporary Art, Modern Art, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and Old Masters and European Old Masters.

Post-War and Contemporary Art

The Post-War and Contemporary Art sector has consistently led the market since 2011, accounting for more than half the value and volume of fine art sold at auctions in 2022. This dominance reflects the sector's broad appeal to collectors and investors, driven by a combination of established and emerging artists. The sector's growth is also indicative of the evolving tastes of collectors, who are increasingly drawn to contemporary works.

Shifting Trends in the Post-War and Contemporary Art
Post-War & Contemporary art dominate the global fine art auction market, with a rise in younger artists and NFTs.

Modern Art

Alongside Post-War and Contemporary Art, the Modern Art sector accounted for 76% of the value of sales in the fine art auction market in 2022. This sector, which includes works from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, continues to attract significant interest due to the historical importance and enduring appeal of the artists and movements it encompasses.

Analyzing the Ups and Downs of the Modern Art Auction Market
Modern art’s dominance in the fine art auction market declines, accounting for 22% of 2022 sales. US rebounds, China sees a 36% fall.

Impressionism and Post-Impressionism

Sales of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art increased by 25% year-on-year in 2022 to reach $2.6 billion, its highest level to date. This growth was driven by high-selling lots, with Claude Monet leading the pack with sales close to $539 million. The enduring popularity of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, characterized by their innovative use of color and light, continues to drive strong results in this sector.

Impressionist Art Surges in 2022 Auctions
Impressionist art thrive in 2022, record sales of $2.6B. US leads, China sees decline. Monet dominates. High-value auctions prevail.

Old Masters and European Old Masters

The Old Masters sector, covering works sold by artists of all nationalities born between 1250 and 1820, was the smallest of the fine art sectors in 2022, accounting for 7% of both the value and volume of sales. However, the European Old Masters sector fared better in 2022, with sales increasing by 14% year-on-year to $574 million, its highest level since 2017. This rise in sales came alongside a drop in the volume of works sold at auction, driven by a very small number of lots achieving high prices. Works by Sandro Botticelli helped to boost the market in 2021, notably with Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel (c. 1480) selling for a record price of $92.2 million at Sotheby’s.

Old Masters : Auction Results and Market Performance
A report examines the Old Masters & European Old Masters sector (2022), highlighting their unique position and performance in the art market.


The performance of these sectors in the auction market is influenced by a variety of factors, including the availability of works, the presence of high-selling lots, and the overall economic climate. As we move further into 2023, these sectors will continue to evolve, shaped by these factors and the changing tastes and preferences of collectors and investors.


Art Basel & UBS (2023), THE ART MARKET 2023 A report by Art Basel & UBS.

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