Myths and misconceptions behind collecting art

Posted on September - 7 - 2016

For many gallerists and art dealers, one of the staggering questions always uttered or at least in the back of the mind of many inexperienced art lovers is “What to buy?”. It’s needless to say that there is a profound difference between buying art randomly and compulsively and collecting art. This word carries heavy connotations, often associated with like a box full of cards and baseballs or a stuffy room filled with time-forgotten antiques. Besides those stereotypical images, the art of collecting has been a practice closely associated with the developments of society and, although art has always been collected, it has now reached staggering new dimensions in the global art market.

Like any form of human activity, collecting has developed a few rules and guidelines. Nowadays, countless articles and books on “How to collect art?” have emerged to guide the curiosity of any new potential buyer, waiting to make his next assertive step.

Occasionally these new sparks of interest and enthusiasm are fading into embers because of the many myths and misconceptions surrounding this activity. One of the biggest myths, if not the most prevailing, often paralyzes newcomers. The notion that to possess a significant array of artworks, you have to a have a substantial amount of money lingers in everyone’s mind. Although there is some unfortunate truth behind this (sorry guys) you can still acquire amazing pieces on a budget if you organize yourself and set a few guidelines for your purchasing.


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Artworks are something that engages you, both emotionally and intellectually, and if you have fallen in love with a piece, it’s sure to be one of the best love affairs you’ll ever have. But, words of caution to the uninitiated, art-collecting can sometimes become an addiction and even a compulsion. An acquisition is sometimes closely related to desire and that we know is almost impossible to satisfy. So don’t become a victim of impulse, but become a steady and strategic contemplator.

Another misconception that sometimes proves to be the most controversial is that if you already filled your house with artworks, you can’t buy any more. Wrong! Collecting has been a never-ending effort. A committed collector assesses his selections and looks back on his past decisions. Like certain things, tastes better over time, what you bought at an early stage in your career, may not seem as attractive now as did before. Some love affairs are not meant to last, unfortunately. When that happens, a collector can reconsider the direction that his collection is taking and reflect on shifting a few items or trading up. Collections are ever truly finished, and can sometimes become a lifetime pursuit.

It’s an ever-changing thing and will take a life of its own, so be nice to it.

With that said, if you have an itch for art beyond just buying something that would look good with your sofa, leave your fears behind and take the next step. And remember, an original is always better than a poster.

By: Gabriela Martínez de la Hoz