The three principles behind collecting art

Posted on March - 29 - 2017

Photo courtesy: Ackerman’s

There can be two acquisitions when it comes to art and between them lies some distinctions that separate each action. One is just buying based on liking a particular work, for decoration or whatever reason without much premeditation. This mostly happens in the primary market, and it’s mostly a fully subjective purchase. The second would be the opposite, buying not just for the sake of it, but for a distinct purpose and if you’re on your way to building your collection, it would be specifically to enhance it in the most efficient manner. The art market is fueled by both, but the second one can prove to be a sound investment in the long term.

If you have decided to become a collector, you have embarked on a lifelong journey that will require you to polish two skills in particular. The ability to conduct successful research on the market, artists, trends, history and many other relevant facts that surround a work of art. Secondly would be decision-making. The later comes, like many good things, with experience and time and is enhanced by research and knowledge, but also requires a keen eye that will choose the right work that will fit harmoniously and further heighten the collection.

How do you start? With the abundant amount of artworks available nowadays in galleries, fairs, online and other venues, it can be an overwhelming task to just choose one and then another and another.

Photo courtesy: Phaidon

The two primary skills require focus, and the guiding principle that will direct your decision-making and the energy and resources you invest in your collection will originate from what makes art great, the passion it creates in the observer. It’s as simple as collect the art that talks to you and the one you love.

There are many books out there that will help you and mainly serve as training wheels until you get on track. One that proves helpful for any art enthusiast who wants to take the next step would be Collecting Art for Love, Money and More by collectors husband and wife Thea and Ethan Wagner, who provide expert insight into the art of collecting. So, if there were three guiding principles to start your collection, greatly simplifying it, they would go like this:

1. Preference: Find out what is the art that most speak to you, the art that you love and go for it.

2. Education: Do your homework! Talk to galleries, curators, other collectors and assist exhibitions, fairs and anything where you can get exposure to good art. Check blogs, websites, magazines, books and anything you can get your hands on. In the digital world, there is no excuse.

3. Decision: Make a choice! Base your decision on the combination of what you like with what you know about it.

If it’s done well, a collection will be worth as a whole instead of by each of its individual pieces. You may have great works whose price skyrocket through the ages, but it’s important for its value, what other artwork accompanies it. There is a lot of literature on the subject and great outlined strategies, nevertheless these three principles can work as guiding lines to either start or continue improving your collection.

By: Gabriela Martínez de la Hoz