How To Start Your Own Modern Art Collection

Millie Stapleton

tp - Leger_Les femmes au perroquet_Miro_Femme_Ernst_Totem et Tabou BI_great room_viewersWe had the pleasure of attending Christie’s Summer 2013 Post- War & Contemporary Art Summer Edition Sale. Aside from being able to browse through an incredible collection of art by the likes of Andy Williams, Douglas S. Cramer, and Donald Young (to name a few), we were also given an insider’s perspective on how to build our very own contemporary art collection.
For many the idea of going to a gallery and buying a piece of art is a daunting task. How do you know what to buy? Where do you start? Is it worth the money? Here, the five tips to keep in mind above all else.
1. If You Are Serious, Hire An Art Advisor. Hiring someone who is an expert in the field of buying art and starting a collection will provide you with invaluable advice. Nilani Trent, the founder of Trent Fine Art Advisory, explains that she is hired to “educate clients on their preferences and what they like…sometimes my clients will take a week to decide other times they can take up to a year. Once they have decided I will ask them, ‘Are you sure? Can you see yourself living with it?’ I like to make sure my clients are 100 percent certain and in love with the piece they are buying, no matter what the price.”
2. Do Your Research. Before you set out to start your own art collection it is imperative that you become familiar with the industry. Auction houses, open artist studios, and websites like Artsy (an online platform for discovering, discussing, and collecting art) are great ways to increase your knowledge and to identify your personal taste and preferences. Once you have established your style then comes the task of “training your eye” and understanding what your budget is. Once you have become more skillful you should have a better chance of spotting artists before they make it big.
3. Explore the World. Traveling is vital for discovering your taste in art. Ernesto Caivano, an artist from Madrid who is best known for his fantastical, narrative based ink drawings, shared that the only way to experience the true authenticity and aura of a piece of art is to gain a new perspective on its background by traveling to its home city. In other words—understanding where art is from is crucial in the buying in the process.
4. Don’t Expect A Quick Return. Your intention to start an art collection shouldn’t be primarily abut making an investment. Carter Cleveland, the CEO of Artsy shared: “Don’t expect to buy low and sell high. Visual dividend develops over time, but this only happens if there are still people with a love for art. If everyone bought art only to sell it on straight away than the love for art would no longer exist.”
5. Buy What You Love. The most simple, yet most important rule to follow. When you are building a collection, you should be in love with every piece you own, expecting to live with the pieces for many years. Before you buy, visualize which wall it will hang on, and if it will compliment the other pieces you own and the style of the room it will be placed in.

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