We love what Goop says:
“The contemporary art market is simply humongous. Historically, people have been overwhelmed and terrified by the idea of buying art for a variety of reasons. People associate the word ‘art’ with what’s in museums and have pigeonholed the whole notion as too ‘highbrow.’ Not to mention that in the past ten to fifteen years, the auction houses have publicly reported astronomical figures every time they close a contemporary art auction, so a lot of people think that those are the average prices. Finally, there is the misconception that galleries are impenetrable by the average layperson or by those who aren’t wealthy. These are all myths that are simply untrue.
1. Get an art education …
The best place to start buying art, to obtain a good foundation and education, and develop an understanding for why you fall in love with specific artworks, are definitely the local galleries, in particular those that have a program for artists and represent them exclusively in their city.
If you are unsure of your tastes and preferences, art fairs are also an excellent source to see a lot of contemporary art, take a crash course in visuals and do some price research. They have proliferated so much that there seems to be a new one in every corner of the world. They are generally crowded, non-judgmental places where people can browse comfortably without being intimidated by the empty hallways and rooms of a gallery.
The mother of all the art fairs is Art Basel in Switzerland, followed by her younger sister, the Miami Beach version. The galleries are all top-notch, the standards to qualify as an exhibitor are the highest, and honestly, it can be a lot of fun and everybody who attends can browse and hang out for hours (or days like I do) and find new and old talents in all sorts of price ranges and from all over the world. Frieze, Scope, Pulse, Red Dotand the Affordable Art Fair are also great fairs that occur throughout the year in different cities such as NYC, London, Berlin, Singapore and Miami.
2. Know your tastes …
People willing to start buying and living with art usually know their own tastes: is it photography and the boldness and neatness that it conveys? Is it the mystery of having an abstract piece completely open to a thousand interpretations? Is it art with a political context? Or what if someone gravitates time and again toward bright pop-style neons?
3. Do your research …
For your first acquisition, stick to what you love and don’t just make a random purchase; get sufficient information on the artist and the gallery.
- Has the artist won prizes?
- Been invited to biennials?
- Represented by a top notch gallery?
Pay attention and learn as much as you can before committing to a piece.
Note: Avoid auction houses (at least if it’s your first time)
For people who are just getting their feet wet, auction houses are not good places to buy art. To start with, buyers have to pay premiums. The adrenaline rush that may come along with wanting to win may push you to pay more than you can afford. Most importantly, the education you get from buying art through galleries or consultants is truly invaluable.
There are three other important factors to think about when starting a collection (and don’t be scared by the word “collection;” anybody with more than one piece of artwork has already started a collection):
- Pay attention to the artist’s career
Obviously emerging artists (not necessarily young but generally in the first five years of his or her career) have artworks with price points that are lower than those who are mid-career or established.
- Consider the medium:
Prints, editions and photography are more accessible than originals. There are cases, for example, where mid-career or established artists who usually work with oil or acrylic or mixed media on canvas decide to release a limited edition of prints that are a fraction of what the originals would cost. I love prints and photography and recommend them to a lot to my clients because you can get large, graphic works without breaking the bank
Note: Whenever possible, buy limited editions rather than open editions.
Size is key!
In the world of contemporary art, bigger is usually better. I will always favor buying a larger piece because of the impact it can make, turning a room from ‘blah’ to ‘wow!’”