These Are the Top Art Cities in the U.S., According to a New UBS Report

Maximilíano Durón, ARTnews, May 31, 2022

Each year, UBS and the economist Clare McAndrew publish a report that looks at the world’s global art market. For the first time, to go alongside it, McAndrew has also published a second report devoted to the role that cities across the U.S. play in the global art market.


According to McAndrew, the U.S. accounted for nearly half of all art sales in 2021—around some $28 billion, per her previous 2022 art market report. The new report reveals that the top five U.S. cities are New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami. These cities will likely come as no surprise to close watchers of the art world here, as they are all hubs for major museums, galleries, art fairs, and artists.


“This research allowed us to look at the structure and make up of US art institutions in some of the country’s key art hubs, looking beyond sales and financial metrics to consider how their choices, risk preferences and behaviors can affect the careers of new artists,” McAndrew said in a statement.


In collaboration with Wondeur AI, McAndrew analyzed the exhibition history of some 4,150 art institutions anywhere in the country that actively presented, between 2017 and 2021, the work of artists born after 1900. Drawing on its 250,000-person database, Wondeur AI then grouped those artists by career stage, from “star” to “emerging.”


Despite accounting for 4 percent of what’s in Wondeur AI’s database, “star” artists were the subject of 47 percent of institutional shows and 23 percent of commercial gallery shows, the report said. Meanwhile, “emerging” artists made up 84 percent of the database, but only 17 percent of institutional shows and 36 percent of gallery shows.


As part of its findings, the report relies on two metrics (between 0 and 100) developed by Wondeur AI. The first is “risk appetite,” or an institution’s “willingness to show new Emerging artists before other institutions,” with a higher score indicating a greater willingness to do so. The second is “performance,” which attempts to map whether an artist continued to have solo shows after one particularly important exhibition, essentially launching their careers to greater heights. (All artists evaluated in this part of the report only began exhibiting in 2010 or later.)


The report found that gender parity still has not been achieved in these cities, with shows by women accounting for between 30 and 45 percent of shows in each urban center surveyed.


Take a look below at the specific data for each city.






Culture has long played a role in San Francisco since the city’s earliest days, and it has continued to be bolstered over the years by key institutions like SFMOMA, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Art Institute, and by notable galleries like Berggruen, Fraenkel, Jessica Silverman, and Jenkins Johnson.


San Francisco has 4 percent of art institutions in the U.S., and institutions in the city mounted 4 percent of all exhibitions staged between 2017 and 2021. When broken down between commercial galleries and nonprofits, San Francisco accounts for 5 percent of the nation’s galleries and 3 percent of its nonprofits.


San Francisco galleries showed 29 percent of “star” artists compared with 39 percent of “emerging” artists, while the city’s museums showed 56 percent of “star” artists and 19 percent of “emerging” artists. Between 2017 and 2021, 36 percent of shows at the city’s galleries and 42 percent of shows at its museums were of women artists.


San Francisco’s risk appetite was 74 for its galleries and 61 for its museums. The city’s performance score was 16 for galleries and 16 for museums.