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Art Galleries vs. Auction Houses: Is It Possible for Them to Coexist in the Art Industry?
An Auction House Holding the Artwork Auction (munhwa.com)

While the South Korean art industry is flourishing with an approximate ₩915.7 billion market size, two pillars of the industry, galleries and auction houses, are at odds. As Frieze, the worldwide art fair, and the Korea International Art Fair (KIAF), Korea’s largest art fair, will be co-hosted in Seoul this year, the industry is expected to grow further. However, conflicts between market players may jeopardize the situation. Galleries and auction houses experienced conflicts in 2007 as well; this resulted in a consensus between the Korean Galleries Association (KGA) and auction houses to limit the number of major auctions to four times a year and not exhibit domestic artworks purchased by an auction house. However, on January 3rd, the KGA criticized the auction industry for violating the agreement and disturbing the market system with frequent auctions. Therefore, the KGA requested auction houses to reduce the number of auctions and urged artists to avoid direct contact with auction houses. The tension was amplified when the KGA decided to hold a self-auction on January 26th. This auction was an action to show the gallery’s role. Hwang Dal-seung, the chairman of the KGA, stated, “If the auction houses restrain from frequent auctions, there is no reason for us to hold self-auctions.” The Seoul Auction officially responded, “Art galleries and the auction industry need to refine the relationship through sufficient discussion as soon as possible.”

이혜준  hj928123@naver.com

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