The downfalls of the Brazilian Art Market

Posted on January - 31 - 2017

ArtRio. Photo Courtesy of:

If you think of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is probably the first thing that would pop into mind. The Christ Redeemer proudly stands on its hill, looking after the well-being of all the Cariocas down below. This seemed true when Brazil, the B in the BRIT pack, was experimenting an increase in annual growth and beneficial social policies, mainly due to work done in the office of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The world was excited to see the Christ skyrocketing off the Corcovado’s peak as Brazil took off, less than a decade ago.

But as they say, everything that goes up eventually comes down. Unfortunately, this may be the case for Brazil. The year 2016 wasn’t prosperous for Brazil. What seemed like an international blessing in the form of two major world events, such as the Olympics and World Cup, brought higher domestic losses than gains. Adding to the mix an unstable political setting, soaring unemployment and inflation rates and difficulties for foreign investors, who have to adjust to the “Brazil cost,” Brazil is entering a recession and losing most of what it had gained in the previous decades.

Photo Courtesy of: 

In the waves of ambiguities, certain sectors are shaken into a whirlwind of hardships, especially the ones linked to culture. In the Latin American Art World, Brazil was at the top of the list and envied by its neighbors for its active state patronage policies and the abundance of avid art collectors. In 2012 the average growth of galleries was 22.5%, 81% of galleries reported an increase in volume and business and 71.5% of sales went to Brazilian private collections. Brazilian artists started to be regarded in the international market as the most sought-after Latin American artists. Artists such as Adriana Varejão, Beatriz Milhazes, Vik Muniz and Cildo Meireles topped auction lists in Sotheby’s and Christie’s, as their prices soared into the millions.


As international markets tend to be more stable than local ones in the case of Latin America, gallerists in Brazil are now aiming to overseas collectors. The established art fair, ArtRio, started to show the effects of a plum


meting economy, as galleries reported a decline in sales and were not even shy about discussing it. Is no wonder that galleries will redirect their efforts to foreign buyers since there are substantial interests in the U.S.A, UK, and Switzerland for Brazilian art. But as the world arena is also waiting to see how things will settle in after the Trump takeover the international art market is sure to see significant changes throughout the year.

Nevertheless, on paper things seem glummer than in the day-to-day. Art will still be created, artists will still manage to produce engaging works of art, and the true art-lover will still give its contribution to culture, in hopes of preserving it. Brazil’s situation echoes through Latin America and shows how volatile the market can be, and how on the big scale, things beyond its control can affect it. However, in hard times, as the never dying axiom goes: “Hope is the last thing that dies in man.”

By: Gabriela Martínez de la Hoz

Beatriz Milhazes. Photo Courtesy of: artnet News