Collecting opportunities, really?

Yesterday reading the latest from the Art Market Monitor I was stunned by the auction totals for artists around the world, many of whom I must admit I do not know. Leading the group of names were artists from China, and the reason for this is explained in the article: the 30 and under chart is dominated by Chinese because these artists sell directly through auction houses in China which rarely takes place in the West.

The article continued to explore auction versus gallery pricing, that old battle, and then finished with the usual Top Ten Artist Sales list, unfortunately not a single woman was on that list and the usual suspect of this era.

Any collector might be discouraged because the collecting game seems to be played in a league outside the scope of many art lovers and furthermore prices might be outside their budgets. Yet, and here is what is important to note: many opportunities abound for the astute and savvy collector. Who is not on that top ten list is worth looking at as well as those who might never make it to a top ten selling listing in their lifetime or ever. Does that mean that their art is not good, or worthwhile or even valuable? No, of course not, it means that in a very limited market arena those works are not being traded. Warhol's name dominates the market but what about other artists working at the same time or working in a different style or direction?

While the auction prices keep rising- and in many ways this is not the only indicator of value- there many artists both emerging-a very tired term that used to only mean younger- or others with great track records and resumes that are not hot at the moment or simply under valued in the international market place. Building a collection or just collecting doesn't mean keeping up with the Jones. And for real collectors the hunt for first rate works and artists is what is key to their interests and looking where others aren’t is key.

While curator at Microsoft I looked with a decent budget in hand but I always looked for good opportunities. This was in fact not my money but money trusted to me to buy with knowledge and consideration. Would everything appreciate in value?  Probably not and yet I had no crystal ball just a sense of where to look and what to keep my eyes and ears open to in terms of artists and art works. To buy what is in fashion is not always a safe bet because things go out of fashion yet good art tends to stay good art even if the spotlight has moved on to someone else. We looked at young artists, mid career artists and occasional a very well established name. The point was to create an exciting collection one that would satisfy an audience with a myriad of tastes and opinions.

Finally I had dinner recently with one such artist, that is, an artist who was at the center of attention at the beginning of their career and while showing internationally for several decades now, at a certain age, their work has evolved into some of the best of they have made. It is a serious, mature body of ideas and work that is once again gaining attention.

There are plenty of opportunities like this. Want to know more? Contact me.


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