How to Identify Galleries Where You Should Buy Fine Art
We recommend you should buy fine art from experienced art dealers who have a market respected expertise in the works they offer. With them you should expect to purchase works of art of quality.
One way to identify if you should have confidence in an art dealer is to inquire as to his/her experience in the art business. Another is to ask for references, names of collectors the gallery serves or has served. One might also ask well known collectors where they look to purchase.
An important independent measure of quality by which to evaluate a dealer would be to determine whether works they have sold may be found in reputable art publications or in museum collections/exhibitions--information easily accessible in the public record. For example, the success of the Klinkhoff family’s endeavours is reflected in how frequently paintings with the Klinkhoff provenance are now owned by Canadian museums, featured in major exhibitions, in important retrospectives and publications.
In Canada, another measure of integrity would be the membership of the gallery in the Art Dealers Association of Canada (ADAC). Only fine commercial galleries in Canada are elected as members of the ADAC, a national not-for-profit organization that admits to its ranks only galleries that conform to a high level of professional standards which are based on rigorous criteria outlined on their website. Continuing in Canada, we would also suggest that you look at member galleries of the Association des galeries d’art contemporain at www.agac.ca.
Case in Point:
When people contact us to evaluate their art work, if the name of an artist is not immediately recognizable to us, perhaps a 19th Century or early 20th Century European painting, 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, Pierre Matisse, Kahnweiler, Leiris, Wildenstein, Toronto’s Blair Laing, Jerrold Morris, Montreal’s Watson Gallery, Dominion, Scott & Sons or Walter Klinkhoff, the likelihood is great that it is a fine quality work of art. Generally it is our experience that pictures of quality are sold by fine galleries.
So the lesson to be learned going forward is that you should expect to see available for your purchase the best selection of the finest works at the foremost galleries showing the kind of artwork you want to collect. We have a tendency to refer to this as buying in the mainstream.