How to Develop an Art Collection
As an intermediate level collector, perhaps by making a few novice mistakes, maybe even costly ones, one will appreciate the importance of identifying and pursuing the advice of reliable and seasoned art dealers. Do not be over confident of your knowledge. Instead, seek the advice of dealers who have devoted their lives to develop the connoisseurship required to evaluate the authenticity and quality of the works they sell.
We read recently in another context, “For 10 years experience it takes 10 years. Even with Google.”
Rarely are good collection of art formed without the guidance of an art dealing professional. Once you have found two or three art dealers you have reason to trust, we recommend establishing a relationship with them. That is to say, ask them their purchasing advice for your taste, objectives and budget and from time to time, follow their advice by buying.
Relying on professional advice is a critical element of the apprenticeship process and a good habit to pursue throughout one’s collecting career. It could also save you thousands of dollars by helping you to avoid making costly mistakes.
Where does it come from?
When people contact us to evaluate their art work, if the name of the artist is not immediately recognizable to us, the first question we ask is “Where does it come from?”—that is what gallery has previously sold it?
If the answer is London’s Colnaghi, Richard Green, or Leslie Waddington, Paris’ Paul Petrides, Daniel Malingue or Pierre Matisse, Toronto’s Av Isaacs, Roberts Gallery, Blair Laing, Montreal’s Watson Gallery, Agnes Lefort, Dominion, Scott & Sons or Walter Klinkhoff, the likelihood is great that it is a quality work of art. At that stage we ask that we be sent images of the front and reverse with details including sizes. Then we do some research. Generally it is our experience that great pictures are sold by great galleries.
Nonetheless, even when buying from reputable galleries, we recommend “staying in the main stream” continues to be our advice not only for the beginner collector, but the more seasoned and even the veterans. Ask advice and take it.
Sure, go to art auctions. They can make for excellent spectator sport. They also give collectors a reassurance publicly that a market exists beyond the “retail”. But, if you do intend to try to buy, do your homework, meticulously. The auction house represents only the seller. Read the conditions of sale.