How to Start an Art Collection

art collection

Perhaps you have purchased a few artworks, and are considering more, but becoming an “art collector” seems intimidating. Collecting artwork can be rewarding and exciting, but — as is the case with most major expenditures — it requires some thought and research in order to be successful. And of course, a truly great art collection comes from a passion for and knowledge of each purchase. If you’re venturing into the world of art collecting, here are some tips to make the process easier, and ensure that your art collection is the best that it can be.

Why collect?

The best art collections are born from a clear objective and intention. These can guide your purchasing decisions, and ensure that you are getting the most enjoyment out of your investments. More importantly, you need to believe wholeheartedly in your reasons. If you have only a vague sense of why you are collecting different pieces, it can be difficult to find satisfaction and fulfillment with your collection, as well as justify the cost of the pieces.

Examples of a good objective are:

  • I enjoy and identify with this particular artist or genre.
  • I like a particular motif or theme across styles and genres.
  • I have a personal affinity for or attachment to each piece.
art collectors.

Herbert and Dorothy Vogel quietly amassed one of the most important contemporary art collections in the U.S, with over 4,782 pieces. As civil servants, they lived frugally. They used Dorothy’s librarian salary to live and Herb’s postal worker salary to buy art. Their collection mostly consists of minimalist and conceptual art, and they chose only what they loved and could carry home on the subway or in a taxi. They eventually donated their collection to the National Gallery of Art and other public institutions so that it could be shared and seen by the public.

Finding your objective

You can find your objective in a number of ways. For example, when seriously shopping for art, you may come to appreciate one artist in particular. Perhaps you had the opportunity to meet that artist. Occasionally, such an encounter will excite you and create a kind of relationship through the artwork. This relationship continues every time you look at one of the artist’s pieces. A desire to continue that relationship can catapult a collection. You may even find your collection evolving as the artist evolves.

Another objective comes from being drawn to a particular style, genre, or theme. It may be that it reminds you of a place or time, and your collection serves to evoke those memories. The artwork then becomes a touchstone for you, and this develops into a kind of relationship that is fostered by your passion for it.

Growing your investment

A good collection will need time to grow. This is time that you can use to research what your next purchase will be, and consider the costs. If you are following a particular artist, then you will want to keep up on his/her shows and exhibitions, and what stylistic changes are in store. Even if you are not planning to make a purchase, you should follow the artist’s price trends.

If you are following a particular style, genre, or theme, then you will want to broaden the range of your search and see if you can find new venues to visit, as well as read about artists in those fields. You will want to keep track of pricing trends with this method as well.

If you are searching for very specific items, then you may need to hunt for them and decide whether they will suit your collection. Once you make that decision, you will need, once again, to research prices and budget accordingly.

With each purchase, ask yourself if it adds to your overall objective. Eventually, your collection should be a well-rounded and broad presentation of what you love so much about it. Ideally, an astute observer of your collection should be able to learn a little more about you from it. And of course, there’s no better place to display such a collection than your own home.

How to Start an Art Collection was last modified: July 24th, 2017 by Ginger Russell
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