Discover the Art of Collecting Contemporary Art

The Art of Collecting: Tips for Starting a Contemporary Art Collection

Don’t be intimidated! Visit as many art galleries as you can and ask questions. If the gallery owner or staff is not accessible or open to your questions, move on.

  • Get on the mailing lists of the art galleries you like so that you’ll be invited to openings, special events and lectures.
  • Keep a log or journal and jot down the names of emerging artists that stop you, move you, inspire you, excite you. Keep in mind that buying art is a lot like “falling in love”.
  • Do your homework. Make sure to get a bio or CV and artist statement. What is their background, education? Where have they shown? What collections are they in?
  • Subscribe to a few of the major art magazines and blogs such as Art in America, Art News, Art & Auction, Art Forum, Frieze and blogs like Gallery Hopper and Art Addict or sites like Art Log and ArtSlant.
  • Visit the International Art Fairs for an opportunity to see which galleries and genres of art most appeal to you. It’s a great opportunity to see a lot of recent work from galleries from around the world. Some of the best Fairs are the Affordable Art Fair, Red Dot, Scope, Pulse which have annual shows in New York, Miami, London and Basel.
  • The right relationship is everything. Like the one with your dealer. A good dealer will advise you, bid for you at auctions, and let you know when good stuff or new work by your favorite artist is available. According to the AADA: ”No great collection was ever formed without a dealer.”
  • Join several art museums and find out when the docents or curators are giving a tour or attend a lecture by visiting curators.
  • Attend auctions of your favorite genres of art at Christies or Sotheby’s or one of the other major auction houses.
  • Attend local studio tours in your local town or city, such as TOAST in Tribeca or ArtEast in Dutchess County, New York.
  • When you make a purchase, make sure to get proper documentation from the gallery, including a bill of sale, letter of authenticity and artist statement and resume.
  • Make sure the gallery specifies if it’s an original work of art or limited edition, and not a reproduction.
  • Ask to meet the artist. Artists regularly attend openings and other events and many of them enjoy sharing their inspiration with collectors and art lovers.
  • Speak to your gallery about proper framing, installation and care of your artwork. And make sure to insure your artwork if you spend $1000 or more.
  • If you need to crate, package and ship your artwork, make sure to get advice from the gallery. Not all shippers are reliable and knowledgeable about packing and protecting art.

Collecting art is an act of self-discovery. Take your time, but don’t be afraid to jump in and make your first acquisition. When you live with art you love, you transform your life. But be careful, because collecting art can be very seductive and addictive. Enjoy the adventure!

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