Collecting Art 101: The Basics

Whether you purchase art for profit, passion or prestige, here’s what you need to know about collecting art works.

People generally buy art for one, or a combination, of the following three reasons; passion, prestige, and profit. Art offers a truly unique investment opportunity in that, unlike more traditional abstract forms of investment like stocks and bonds, it is a tangible asset that owners can enjoy for many years.

It is wise to consult a reputable private dealer or professional art advisor when setting out to build an art collection. A quality professional will be well connected in the primary and secondary art markets and will expose you to artists whose achievements foreshadow long-term marketability. He or she can teach you how to distinguish between quality art and decorative art – the latter holding no intrinsic value. The more art you look at, the more developed your eye becomes and you will begin to differentiate between mediocre and great art. Moreover, by visiting galleries, museums and art fairs, you will develop your own personal aesthetic, ensuring you build a collection that reflects your sensibilities and in which you take great pride.

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An expert’s assistance is a vital tool, as a straightforward rulebook does not exist for art valuation. It is a common thought, for instance, that prints are secondary to paintings because the former is not unique. A quality print, however, can hold more value than a second-rate oil on canvas by the same artist. Similarly, the motto ‘bigger is better’ certainly does not always apply to art as often small treasures can prove more special and valuable than works large in scale.

The bottom line? You must be prepared to take risks when purchasing art, as there is no guarantee of monetary growth. The best approach is to buy quality works you truly admire and that fall within your budget and hope they hold their value. In the meantime, relax and admire the art!

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