How To Buy Art
How To Buy Art

How to Buy Art: 7 Tips for Starting Your Collection

Words by Jody Hume | 10.10.17
Art can be a daunting subject. Some people feel they don’t understand it, it’s often controversial and it can seem like the realm of only very wealthy collectors. And while some of those things may be true in whole or in part, you shouldn’t let them stop you from collecting pieces you connect with and that make your home feel more aesthetically pleasing and ‘you.’ With a little research and adept hunting, you can find pieces that are the beginning of something beautiful. For a guide on how to dive into the heady world of collecting, we turned to a few of our in-house experts who know way more than just a thing or two about art. Read on for their tips.
1. Identify movements and art historical moments that resonate with you.
Once you’ve found what speaks to you, seek out works from those periods. Also, try to identify less well-known artists associated with specific schools or groups whose work may be more affordable and available. I love Abstract Expressionism and artists like Pollock, Motherwell and Frankenthaler; over time, I’ve come to appreciate some of its lesser known practitioners including Melville Price and female artists Joan Mitchell and Lee Krasner. I’m particularly fond of both Mitchell and Krasner’s graphic works which can be relatively affordable and accessible for new collectors. — Christina Capela, Associate Merchandise Manager

How To Buy Art Ellsworth Kelly Alexander CalderEllsworth Kelly, Red Blue, 1964; Alexander Calder, Convection, 1974

2. Don’t pay attention to popularity.
Look for works that really resonate with you. When you look at the piece, does it make you happy? Does it connect with something inside of you that you can’t quite explain? Those are the kinds of pieces that will never go out of style for you — and will manage to always find a place in your home. — Karin Dillie, Director of Trust & Estates
3. Do your research.
Articles come out every day celebrating the unfathomable prices that blue chip artworks achieve at auction. When you’re starting your collection, focusing on a genre, school or artist that is often overlooked or hasn’t gained Picasso-level fame yet is a good way to collect art at a reasonable price. — Brittany Gersh, Senior Fine Art & Home Specialist

How To Buy Art Evan Robarts Kendyll HillegasEvan Robarts, Popsicles, 2012; Kendyll Hillegas, A Child’s Bookshelf

4. Build a cohesive collection.
Leonard Lauder’s collection of Cubist art is renowned for a few important reasons that are applicable for anyone starting a collection. He amassed a group of pieces of a particular era and he brought together works in a focused and cohesive way. Lauder wasn’t searching for trophies, he sourced pieces that made sense together and told a story. He started his collection when no one was interested in cubist works; Lauder found an undeveloped niche in the market and capitalized on it to create the world’s most extensive collection of cubist art. — Brittany Gersh, Senior Fine Art & Home Specialist
5. Think about size and scale.
I always believe bigger is better, especially when you are looking at a large blank, white wall. A large abstract painting or colorful graphic print can become the center point of your room and give it real personality. — Karin Dillie, Director of Trust & Estates

How To Buy Art Ralph Gibson Frank HorvatRalph Gibson, Arrow with Drill, 1968; Frank Horvat, Shoe and Eiffel Tower A, 1974

6. Attend art fairs and exhibitions to see new work.
This is where galleries do the most business so they bring the best of the best. You can see a ton of work in one place and get a sense of trends in the market. The big fairs also attract satellite fairs such as Pulse, Volta and Scope, and the work shown at these galleries is often very accessible. — Brittany Gersh, Senior Fine Art & Home Specialist
7. Protect your investments.
Keep artwork in a temperature-controlled environment and out of direct sunlight. UV light causes both natural and synthetic materials to degrade, and can also lead to oxidation, bleaching, fading and yellowing. Also, be sure to use only archival quality framing materials, for example acid-free matboard, hinges and UV filtering acrylic for some works. Avoid using household cleaners and conventional cleaning products like Windex or paper towels to wipe down art objects or sculpture as these are likely too harsh and can cause scratches and damage. Keeping your art in top condition will not only ensure that it lasts, but that it retains its resale value should you ever want to consign. Speaking of which, make sure you store and keep track of all documentation and paperwork from the time of purchase which will be important should you wish to re-sell. — Christina Capela, Associate Merchandise Manager

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