Feb 13th 2011 11:53AM There's a difference between a souvenir and a work of art...
Oct 7th 2010 9:39PM In my opinion, buying originals from emerging artists is a much better way to start a collection affordably than purchasing reproductions that have no connection to the original object other than a licensing agreement. You may not see every emerging artist's originals increase in value, but if you trust your own taste rather than the glamour of "investment-grade" artists, you'll at least have real art you really love.
Oct 1st 2010 2:08AM One important question to ask regarding paintings is whether they have been varnished and if so, whether the varnish is reversible. If a picture needs to be professionally cleaned later due to dirt, smoke or cooking fumes, the restorer will appreciate knowing as much detail as possible. If the painting has not been varnished you will have the opportunity to consider whether to have it done, or if not at least you can decide the safest way to display it.
Acrylic painted surfaces should not be placed in direct contact with one another for any length of time due to the persistent adhesive strength of the medium. Even completely dry acrylic paintings can stick together irreversibly, especially in a warm environment.
Finally, it's a good idea to ask whether framing was made in-house by the artist. Many emerging artists make their own frames out of necessity to save money, but later on the piece may prove more valuable when paired with the original presentation materials. Even if you have a painting professionally framed, the original frame should be kept in storage, as it may enhance value later.
Aug 11th 2009 1:45PM Selling work from a permanent collection is one decision which can't be undone. I recently visited a small regional museum, hoping to see the few old master works in the collection. The Van Dyck grisaille was gone, likewise the miniature Turner biblical scene, and a very nice Tiepolo as well. When I asked if they were in storage or removed for cleaning, I was told the museum had auctioned several works, and the resulting sale brought in a huge amount of money. I asked what was planned for the newly acquired funds; apparently the museum is actively acquiring collections of 19th and 20th c local pottery, and they currently display an area patron's doll collection.
I'm not sure if it's appropriate to pass laws preventing administrators from screwing up museums. It may be better if those decisions are advised by the public served by the institutions. It's too bad, however, when art objects take centuries to find a home in a public gallery, only to be passed on to private collectors once again. Hopefully the individual lucky enough to own the Van Dyck will eventually donate it to a public gallery... probably not in my lifetime, though.
Aug 10th 2009 1:33PM This is a great article that explains exactly why the collector should interest themselves in details beyond just market value, including materials, process, and the artist's education and career.
I would add, artists often have a core group of collectors in the city or region where they began their career, so there may be some unpublished history of works being sold and resold through local dealers. In addition to galleries, large "antique malls" in the artist's home region are a good resource. Dozens of dealers can occupy these businesses, including art dealers, and the mall manager will be familiar with most of what has been sold (or failed to sell).
Aug 10th 2009 12:27PM Some have observed that this trend may have been overdue anyway. New York dealer Richard L. Feigen was quoted as saying, “The disparity in price rises between Old Masters and contemporary has been crazy…Some Old Master pictures haven’t increased in price in the last 20 years and there are people with a lot of cash at Tefaf looking for a place to park it..” Feigen referred to Tefaf Maastricht art and antiques fair, where, according to Emily Waldorf of ArtsEtoile, recently prices for contemporary works were being cut up to 20% while Old Master prices held steady.
Age over beauty? I'm not so certain it's as simple as that, anyway. Beautifully crafted antique pictures have the ability to communicate their best qualities to any observer. One need not be a trained academic or cultivated collector to judge (at least to some degree) the quality of craftsmanship and execution in a traditional figure painting, still life or landscape. It may be that contemporary art, especially the most experimental, “avant-garde” work, being more opaque to many collectors, seems speculative and risky to the collector compared to art and objects where craftsmanship, aesthetics and pictorial goals are more central and self-evident.
This is perhaps more than just a shift in taste to the conservative or nostalgic, but rather collectors insisting on standards increasingly not being met by contemporary art, which often seems to have the central (maybe sole) function of being expensive to buy.
Aug 10th 2009 12:04PM Artists always appreciate the opportunity to sell out of studio, direct to collectors. There's no reason to volunteer a contribution to an agent if you found the artist's work on your own, and can make direct contact through a website or by phone. However, it's important to be respectful of gallery representatives where appropriate. It's a bad practice to attempt to buy out of studio works currently on exhibit at a gallery (especially right in front of the dealer- it happened to me once!) You might get a one-time bargain, but if in doing so you've damaged the artist's ability to sell in your market, you've also potentially damaged the value of your investment.
Also, collectors should still offer a fair price, even if it reflects a discount for not having to pay a commission. Gallery rates are typically 40-50%, but the artist normally absorbs all materials and framing costs from their share of the sale. Many artists (like me) are very conservative about reducing prices, especially to new collectors- discounts are earned through loyal, long-term patronage or comitment to buy several works at once.
Finally, if you do get a great bargain, keep it to yourself! Nobody who has ever paid fair market value will ever trust the artist again if word gets around (and, don't think it won't).