Having recently looked at the art capitals across the UK, in which we assessed the nation’s top towns and cities for selling art, we’ve travelled across the pond to find the US hotspots. From Savannah to Seattle, discover the locations that our data suggests contribute most to the $919.7bn arts economy in America.
We assessed our sales across the United States since 2017, reviewing which cities have been responsible for purchasing artworks and which styles, colour palettes and subject categories are the most popular.
Top 10 cities
Let’s take a look at the US’s top cities for selling art:
- Savannah, Georgia
- Alexandria, Virginia
- Huntington Beach, California
- Bellevue, Washington
- Boca Raton, Florida
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Arlington, Texas
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Miami, Florida
- Seattle, Washington
The top three cities
Located on Georgia’s coast, bordering South Carolina, Savannah is a beautiful city surrounded by well-groomed parks and the Savannah River. Art is at the centre of the city’s culture – it is home to numerous art galleries, including the Kobo Gallery and the Daedalus Gallery.
The city’s people have bought 133 pieces of art per 100,000 people, which totals 440 artworks over the past four years. The majority of these (51%) were oil paintings – by far the most popular medium – with the second most popular category, watercolours, accounting for 13% of the sales.
In terms of subject, the people of Savannah were mostly interested in people and portraits, with 124 pieces covering this subject matter – 28% of the total artworks bought. This was narrowly followed by landscapes, sea and sky, which accounted for 24% of the city’s art.
Impressionism has been the most popular style across the city, having accounted for 43% of all purchases. America’s iconic photorealism movement has also made its mark on Savannah, becoming the second most popular style. 139 pieces of photorealistic art were sold to people in Savannah, totalling 31% of the city’s total art purchases.
Alexandria sits on the Potomac River in northern Virginia, near Washington D.C. The city’s iconic Old Town showcases architecture from the 18th century and is home to the Athenaeum – a gallery that displays artists from Virginia, D.C. and Maryland. Alexandria also offers art lovers the Gallery Sancerre, Galactic Panther and the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Local artists in Alexandria were responsible for buying 152 artworks, which works out to 95 pieces of art per 100,000 people. The city’s citizens appear less devoted to a specific category of art than those in Savannah – the highest-selling category accounted for less than a third of the total, compared to the 51% majority in Savannah. 43 acrylic paintings were bought in the city, making up 28% of all pieces, while 42 oil paintings accounted for 27%.
The people in Alexandria were fond of artwork featuring landscapes, sea and sky – maybe influenced by the shimmering river running alongside the city. These pieces made up 24% of all purchases, with 37 being bought. However, this subject holds joint first position, with an equal number of abstract and non-figurative pieces being bought.
Impressionism once again proved popular, taking the top spot for style, accounting for 29% of the total purchases. Abstract art reappears as an influential style in the region, with 18 sales accounting for 11% of the city’s total art transactions.
Located on the coast south of Los Angeles and known for its surf culture, Huntington Beach is home to many cultural landmarks including the International Surfing Museum and Huntington Beach Art Center . Since 2017, 183 pieces of art have been bought in Huntington Beach, California. This means 92 pieces were bought per 100,000 people.
The most popular category of artwork was oil paintings, followed by acrylic. Huntington Beach bought 73 oil and 42 acrylic paintings, accounting for 40% and 23% of all art sold, respectively.
Once again, landscapes, sea and sky are the most influential subjects in the region, accounting for 27% of all purchases – perhaps reflective of the stunning nature surrounding the city, from sunny, Pacific beaches to wetland reserves. The second most in-demand subject was flowers and plants, which made up 16% of the sales to Huntington Beach.
Photorealism strikes again, being the most popular style of art, closely followed by impressionism, which has featured in the top two styles for all three cities. The two styles accounted for 28% and 23% of the city’s purchases.
Top artistic states
While cities located in Florida and Washington didn’t make the top three, both states made it into the top 10 list twice. Let’s take a look at the art capitals in our art states.
Washington-based cities sat in both fourth and 10th place. Bellevue and Seattle – the largest city on our list – are neighbours, located on either side of Lake Washington. Unsurprisingly, the two cities have very similar tastes.
Bellevue bought 90 pieces of art per 100,000 capita (136 pieces in total). While Seattle, having a larger population, acquired 343 artworks, its per capita total was 48. Let’s take a look at a breakdown of their purchases:
- Oil paintings accounted for 35% of purchases
- Acrylic paintings accounted for 23% of purchases
- Landscapes, sea and sky accounted for 33% of purchases
- Abstract and non-figurative accounted for 18% of purchases
- Impressionistic accounted for 28% of purchases
- Abstract accounted for 22% of purchases
- Acrylic paintings accounted for 20% of purchases
- Oil paintings accounted for 18% of purchases
- Landscapes, sea and sky accounted for 23% of purchases
- Abstract and non-figurative accounted for 19% of purchases
- Impressionistic accounted for 20% of purchases
- Expressive and gestural accounted for 14% of purchases
From this information, we can see that while the two cities have similar tastes – with landscape, sea and sky-focused and impressionist art being favourites – people in Bellevue are more passionate about these genres. The most popular categories accounted for higher percentages of Bellevue’s acquisitions. While these mediums are still popular in Seattle, the city seems to invest in more of a variety.
As for Florida, the state saw its cities of Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale in the adjacent joint fourth and sixth positions. Both cities are located north of Miami on the state’s southeast coast. Since 2017, Boca Raton has seen 90 art purchases per 100,000 people (91 altogether), while Fort Lauderdale has seen 66 per capita (122 pieces).
- Oil paintings accounted for 27% of purchases
- Acrylic paintings accounted for 26% of purchases
- Animals and birds accounted for 21% of purchases
- Abstract and non-figurative accounted for 21% of purchases
- Impressionistic accounted for 24% of purchases
- Abstract accounted for 23% of purchases
- Oil paintings accounted for 30% of purchases
- Acrylic paintings accounted for 30% of purchases
- Abstract and non-figurative accounted for 31% of purchases
- People and portraits accounted for 23% of purchases
- Abstract accounted for 28% of purchases
- Impressionistic accounted for 23% of purchases
Both Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale have very close competition for their highest ranking genres. The people of Boca Raton like animals and birds just as much as abstract and non-figurative art, while oil is only marginally ahead of acrylic as the highest-ranking medium. Oil and acrylic are appreciated in equal measure down in Fort Lauderdale.
Hero image credit: Tim Carr