At a Glance: Collecting with Conviction

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[caption id="attachment_2245" align="alignnone" width="577"]Veronica Fernandez fields questions about a John Chamberlain sculpture from Tom Gehring, a novice collector, at ART L.A. in January. Photo by Durnford King.[/caption]

Have you ever stepped into an art gallery and felt too intimidated to ask a question or purchased a work of art and felt remorseful shortly thereafter? For many beginning collectors, navigating through the dynamic, multi-billion dollar art world can be mystifying on numerous levels.

In order to build a cohesive collection, a collector must become totally absorbed in the process and, in addition to engaging in intense research, he or she needs to possess a focused understanding of what they should buy and why they should buy it.

The Best Collectors Are Always the Best Informed

One way of becoming well-informed is to look at as much work as possible by visiting museums, both young and established galleries, open artist studio tours, non-profit art spaces, student art exhibitions, and the homes of other collectors. Attending viewings at auction houses is also an excellent visual exercise and helps in gaining familiarity with historically significant works of art.

The Internet is one of the easiest and most efficient tools in researching artists, galleries and auction records. Artnet.com is especially convenient when searching for particular artists, finding where they exhibit and viewing examples of their work. Additionally, artnet.com and other popular websites like artprice.com offer subscription services for individuals to access comprehensive market performance reports and price databases on thousands of artists.

Galleries: Respect the Venue and Develop Strong Relationships

As an art buyer, it is important to approach galleries with a distinct game plan. First and foremost, you should always make a point of determining a given gallery’s focus and program. Understanding these elements early on could help save both parties a considerable amount of time—for example, if your interest is modern painting, a gallery that specializes in contemporary prints and multiples is probably not the most appropriate venue for your interests. It is also advantageous to talk to other collectors who have purchased work from galleries that represent specific artists of interest.

Additionally, beginning collectors should develop a certain set of guidelines for themselves. It is important not only to determine for yourself a budget but also to set forth the scope of your collection—are you going to focus on a few artists in-depth or assemble a more varied collection? Share these guidelines with the gallerist—the more information you give them, the better. It doesn’t matter if these objectives change over time; the idea is to develop a base from which to work.With this information, the gallery will be better suited to assist you.

 

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