Publisher: Lund Humphries
Publication date: 2018
Canvas rating: ****
This is a revised edition of lain Robertson’s 2011 book, A New Art From Emerging Markets – and readers will note that the term ‘emerging’ has since been banished from the title in response to globalization. Robertson instead considers the ‘new world order’ and transforming value systems in the art markets of China, Japan, India, Iran, South America, and Southeast Asia. With progressive gusto, he quickly sifts through the political and historical developments of each region to explore the shifting emphasis toward regional histories and local traditions.
While city-states such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and those in the Gulf region have grown into important art hubs, benefiting from immense liquidity, low taxes, and free ports, Robertson is rather dismissive of their significance due to increasing political volatility and he dubs these regions ‘Unsafe Havens in the opening chapter. This may be because Robertson, who is Head of Art Business Studies at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, has an academic focus on East Asia Japan, Taiwan, and Korea) and China, or because he ascribes to an overly deterministic model of political economy. Yet while it is easy to get lost in his deep geopolitical mappings, these certainly succeed in relaying his enthusiasm for the subject and his incredible expertise in global art markets — in addition to Southeast Asia, he focuses on India, Iran, and South America. Another draw is of a more entertaining kind ~ the insights from Robertson’s own travels provide absorbing and memorable snapshots to what is an intelligently written and informative book.