If they looked half as pretty as papel picado, then these particular cuts in the art world probably wouldn’t be rattling so many feathers. But the slump in the art market was foretold by its own share of harbingers: from this year’s generally tepid Frieze Art Fair purchases to the decline of sales at Sotheby’s to failure of MoMA’s pre-fab architecture to sell. More harrowing news comes in the form of personnel reductions at New York’s Pace Wildenstein.
With three locations throughout the city, the Pace Wildenstein is one of the larger galleries in town. A spokesperson for the gallery says, “On Friday we did have to lay off 18 of our 146 employees.” She further explains how she believes Pace Wildenstein isn’t alone in this downsizing. “I don’t think we’re the only gallery that has done layoffs — I feel more news will eventually surface, with more prominent galleries. We’ve taken the measures to make sure this is the only time that happens [here]. … It’s the current economic crisis that we’re in. We, like other galleries in the early 1980s and 1990s, had to go through series of layoffs to survive. We have to do it this time around as well. It saddens us.” On the topic of art market’s recession resistance, the spokesperson added that during economic blight, this market is always the last one to suffer.