Beginner’s Guide to Buying Art
First of a short three part series by art specialist Sally J. Clarke on what to consider when buying art….
What is art for?
Artists produce advertisements for what truly matters. The media tells us what is glamorous and important but artists usually pick on very different things. Think of Van Gogh with his oranges, David Hockney and his studies of trees or even Picasso with his work Guernica: arguably the world’s most powerful anti-war visual art piece ever created.
Art can also be thought of as propaganda that strives to energise you and motivate you for a cause. It could be about the simple life, or a visual hymn praising beauty such as this work by Crimson Autumn by Ural Tansykbaev.
There is an argument to be made that art attracts too much reverence and we need to learn to relax around it and use it for what it is supposed to be for. A treasure chest of images that support our need for relaxation and understanding.
The most popular works of art in the world show pretty things and this worries serious critics. Since Duchamp and his ready-mades first came on the arts scene, the need for art to have a theoretical underpinning has become paramount. But we need pretty things close to us as they present us with an emblem of hope that is waiting for us when we need it. Art can also reassure us of the normality of pain. Like a well-constructed and played piece of music it can make pain visible: fighting the false optimism of life.
An artwork may depict a romantic love scene that we miss or it could be a photograph of a major sporting event that we wish we had attended. Sometimes a whole nation can fall in love with a style of art because it speaks to the changes taking in place with society. Here we can think of Renaissance Italy and its love affair with new ways of painting that had arisen out a search for a more realistic way of depicting nature.
On purchasing an artwork consider what the artist’s intention was and then whether he or she has achieved their goal. Is the artist like Cézanne trying to show the heaviness of an orange or chronicling social concerns using imagery and text such as Grayson Perry R.A.?
When we think about art as an asset class and potential investment opportunity we should start by trying to answer the simple question of whether it is any good.