Observatory on contemporary art

Network of artists and galleries

Scientific supervisor: Stefano Baia Curioni
Research team: Laura Forti, Raffaella Piccarreta, Marta Equi Pierazzini, Elena Rizzi, Roberto Scalmana

The Observatory for Contemporary Art presents the result of an exploration carried out on the visibility, the recognition and the processes of verification of the contemporary art production in the last years, from 2005 to 2013.
This time span gives the opportunity to consider the impact of the global crisis of 2008 and, simultaneously, of the massive increase in the art market's geographical scope after the emergence of the BRIC scenes.
As a primary unit of observation we consider the Art Basel fair: monitoring the artists brought by all the galleries that participate to the event, we can gather elements about the policies implemented by the top segment of the art dealing world. The commercial and cultural intentions embedded in these policies shape the way in which the art system interprets the globalization and find an answer to the dimensional growth of the market, with all the possible implications on the meanings and nature of the visual arts as a whole. 

We then complemented the data with the list of all the collective and solo exhibitions held, in the same years, in 34 selected contemporary art museums worldwide. The final dataset includes information about more than 15,500 artists, 730 galleries, 34 museums and nearly 5,000 exhibits.


  • Philipsz S.,Nicolin P., Bonacossa I., Cerizza L., Martìnez C.  "Follow Me. Susan Philipsz", Milan, Humboldt Books, 2015. [ISBN 978-88-99385-02-6] 

  • Baia Curioni, S., Leone, L. and Forti, L. “Making Visible. Cultural entrepreneurship and artists' legitimation in the global gallery art system” in (Ed.) O. Velthius & Baia Curioni S., Cosmopolitan Canvases. The Globalization of Market for Contemporary Art, Oxford University Press, 2015 [978-0-19-871774-4]
  • Baia Curioni S., Dubini P., Equi Pierazzini M. 2013. “From glass ceiling to ivory tower: Legitimation patterns in the contemporary art system”. Working paper, ASK Research Centre, Università L. Bocconi.
  • Baia Curioni S., Forti L. 2013. “Stars and stripes: artists consecration and gatekeeping effect in the global art market”. Paper ASK Research Centere, under submission.
  • Baia Curioni S. “A fairy tale: the art system, globalization and the fair movement”. In Contemporary art and its commercial markets. A report on current conditions and future scenarios, edited by Olav Velthuis and Maria Lind, 115-151. Berlin: Sternberg, 2012.
  • Baia Curioni, S., Forti L., Pietrabissa C. “National platforms and the global art market: Art Basel 2005-2011.” Working paper, Ask Research Centre, Università L. Bocconi. 2011. Read article

Special projects

  • Biennale di Venezia - 14 Mostra Internazionale di Architettura. Partecipazione alla sezione ‘Week-end specials’ con il progetto "The state of the art".


  • Baia Curioni S. “Lusso, filosofia e arte contemporanea.” EXPO Gate, Milan, July, 2014
  • Baia Curioni S., Equi Pierazzini M. “Mini-conference Globalization of Contemporary Art Markets.” University Of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, October 3-5, 2013.
  • Baia Curioni S. “Brasilian artists and globalization: artists global selection and globalization processes.” A Gentil Carioca Gallery, Rio De Janeiro. October 10, 2013.
  • Baia Curioni S. “Ripartire dalle visioni. Politiche culturali, pratiche artistiche, artigianato, territorio.” Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, June 19, 2012.
  • Baia Curioni S. “Notes on the Art Market Globalisation.” Courtauld Institute of Art, London, February, 2012.
  • Baia Curioni S. “Contemporary Art Observatory.” Rotterdam Symposium, Rotterdam, May 12, 2012.
  • Baia Curioni S., Forti L., Pietrabissa C. "National platforms and the global art market: Art Basel 2005-2010." AIMAC 2011 - 11th International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management, Antwerp, 2011
  • Baia Curioni S., Forti L., de Bellegarde C. “Observing the art markets. First Notes.” Seminar, Luneburg University, March, 2011.
  • Baia Curioni S., Forti L., Pietrabissa C. “Notes on the art market.”, June 6, 2011
  • Baia Curioni S., Forti L. “The matter. An Observatory of the Global Contemporary art system.” AXA, December, 2011.
  • Baia Curioni S. “Ripartire dalle visioni. Produzioni e patrimoni culturali in Europa al tempo della crisi.” Il Sole 24 Ore, Milan, May 18, 2011
  • Baia Curioni S. “Coalizioni nel Sistema dell’arte contemporanea.” SDA Bocconi, Milan, June 15, 2010.
  • Baia Curioni S., Forti L, de Bellegarde C. “Art Market Strategies.”, Culture and the Making of Worlds, 3rd ESA Sociology of Culture RN mid-term Conference, Università Bocconi, October, 2010.
  • Baia Curioni S., Forti L., Martinazzoli L. "Contemporary art museums in Europe. A comparative study on their stakeholder management", AIMAC 2009 - 10th International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas USA.