Without the benefit of a crystal ball, how can you build a collection that by the time the kids have grown up (and you’re ten foot under), grants them a private jet and a personal island bigger than Australia?
Well before buying a painting for my collection, I ask these simple questions to guide me:
– Is the artist of major national standing?
– Is the artist in important institutions or galleries?
– Does the artist have a solid track record?
– Is the work within the normal realm that artists work?
– Does the work fit well in my home spaces?
– Is it in good condition and look perfect?
– Should I get an independent valuation?
– Is the gallery a member of the ACGA – to be sure my purchase is super smooth and safe in well-educated and professional hands?
But most importantly – Do I love it? Can I live with this painting forever?
Tips when buying:
– Buy the best you can afford. It’s better to buy a key piece by an emerging artist than a poor quality example by an established artist
– Buy a work that is a good example of an artist’s style. For instance, don’t buy a nude by an artist known for his still lifes
– Buy from reputable galleries – I look out for ACGA – the gallery association as they have a code of ethics and are responsible galleries
There are a few warning signs that all art buyers should be aware of:
– Web sales – It’s easy to enhance an image and I personally like to look a work in the eye before I buy it to know that I can live with it and judge it
– Buying at auction – don’t let the auction carry your enthusiasm away
– Holiday art/cruiser art /art when you have been drinking at the opening party – best to wait in all these cases, the art if its good will be there when you come back sober!
– Reliable galleries – go where representatives know their stuff and have done some of the leg work for you
– Choose to buy from somewhere you feel comfortable – there are still some galleries that I won’t go to as they give me that “Pretty Woman“ feeling and no matter how much money I have, they won’t be helpful.
– Never worry about the colours of your rooms, walls or curtains. If you love it, it will fit and work!
Art fairs are a great way to see what is around and get a feel for the marketplace. Here you can observe current trends and gain valuable research but there is no need to rush a purchase. Any good gallery will happily arrange for a studio visit, personal commission or pop you on the mailing list for when you can see a full show by that artist.
But, at the end of the day buy what you love – if it appreciates, great, if not, at least you appreciate it.
Credit: Originally published in Australian Art Collector, photo by Janelle Low
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