Nan DeVincent-Hayes, Ph.D
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to Collect Art"
Collecting art is again becoming a popular activity.
Of course it's unlikely to reach the heights of the 1980s when
SoHo and Greenwich Village galleries overflowed onto the streets with
buyers wanting to get in on the pickings, but gallery administrators
are beginning to see an up-trend. Part of this is due to financial experts encouraging the
purchase of art as an investment, and part of it is due to Boomers
wanting to display in their homes and offices the latest and greatest
Whatever the reasons, art is making a comeback, so if you want to
get in on it, here's how to go about it:
First, decide what kind of art to collect.
Collecting art is based on personal taste, though consider the
financial advantage the piece may bring in the future; however, in art
circles, it's advocated not to collect art based solely on monetary
value but rather on what you like.
This often results in an "eclectic" collection.
You can also limit your collection to a certain period (such as
the Modernism), specific style (Impressionism), particular artist
(Monet), or exclusive medium (oils).
Some collectors spend years amassing all the art work from one
artist, and then move on to another and collect his or her work until
collectors invest only in art that has proven to appreciate
momentarily. And still
others garner art based upon the decor of their home or office. This is something you'll have to decide.
Secondly, determine the best method for buying art:
Once you've decided on the kind of art you want to collect, you
then need to determine the best method for doing this. Try such avenues as yard sales, flea markets, antique stores,
auction houses, sales by individuals, and even pawn shops, but these
aren't recommended if you're a novice collector because you have to
know something about the art you want to buy, as well as the nature of
the party you're dealing with. Working
with a fine arts consultant at a reputable gallery is the safest way
to go, primarily because a gallery of integrity will stand behind its
product. Also, a consultant can advise you on the artwork (condition,
degree of collectibility, value, authenticity), as well as provide you
with information on the artist. Some
galleries even have design consultants who will visit your home or
office to see if the artwork you want fits your decor.
And if there's a particular art piece you want but can't find,
a good gallery will be able to track it down and order it.
Too, a dependable gallery will pamper you, letting you know when a
new exhibit has arrived, invite you to private showings, notify you of
special events and arrivals, and educate you about art--all of which
gives you the "in" when it comes to collecting.
Because reputable galleries acquire their art from creditable
sources, the worry about having accidently collected a piece of
fraudulent art is unlikely. Once
collectors start working with a particular gallery, they seldom switch
simply because they've come to trust the personnel, though there's
nothing that says you can't work with more than one gallery at a time.
There are no standards to follow in what to collect, but there are
certain caveats to abide by when it comes to buying art:
1. Never purchase art
from the black market, or through questionable sources.
2. Deal with a
reliable expert who can a). attest to the artist's credentials and
background; b). give the art's appreciation history, b). ascertain the
condition and quality of the piece, c). and verify the degree of value
of the artwork (edition size, state, if signed and numbered, plate
cancellation proof, certificate of authenticity, and so on).
3. If you're buying
art for decor purposes, make sure you can exchange the piece if after
taking it home or to the office, you find that it doesn't look right.
4. Check out the
gallery's owner, director, and other management and consultation
personnel; inquire into the respectability of a gallery's dealers and
5. Compare the prices of one gallery to another, though this
shouldn't be the deciding factor when purchasing art. A gallery offering the same product or a similar one at
cheaper prices might not be as client-friendly as one that charges a bit
6. Inquire into the
gallery's payment plans, and its policies on returning purchases, having
items shipped, rented, and so on.
7. Find out if the
gallery you're interested in offers specials for their clientele, and
whether its artists are brought in to meet collectors.
Though there are other matters to consider when venturing into art
collecting, this gives you a feel as to what the business is all about.
And art is a business--whether visual, literary, or performing;
make no mistake about it. Work only with the principled and scrupulous in the industry
so that you won't regret it later.