How to start your art collection
“Pleasure is the root of all art appreciation” – Baudelaire
THE SHOCK OF THE NEW
Most of the bourgeoisie in 19th century France admired and bought Salon art. The Impressionists and the other artists who made the art that we now value and remember were often ignored in their lifetimes. Artists that are now revered, like Van Gogh and Munch, were hardly known and lived lives of hardship and struggle. There are exceptions though, Whistler and Sargent, for example were successful and their work is still respected.
Those who set out to cause shock and sensation are not always remembered either. For every Tracy Emin or Damian Hirst there are hundreds who do not get that recognition. Humans generally want what’s familiar and comforting – or think they do. The real “buzz “of art is in the unexpected – the message we need to hear is not the one we think we want to hear (or see).
At any time there are always innovators – those who make art from a deeply felt need – not for a market. These creators are unable, even if they try, to merely please the preconceptions of the public. Their truest expression comes from somewhere deep inside, and is not purely individual. It’s as if they tap into some more profound collective consciousness.
WARNING : ‘SAFE’ ART WILL NOT FULFIL YOU.
Of course much art will merely be a status symbol, or a safe haven for wealth. In the case of the most valuable works from the greatest masters of the past they can be both artistically fulfilling and a sound investment. It’s a really good idea to look beyond your preconceptions of ‘beauty’ and try to find art that ‘speaks’ to you at a deeper level. This will deliver a much more lasting pleasure and can continually reveal more of itself over time. As you go on in the course of developing your taste your own individual personality starts to emerge and manifest.
However much we can today admire, say, Renaissance art or impressionism, those who work in those styles now do not have much of value to give us. The insipid and kitschy depiction of a pink rose with a realistic drop of water on it lacks, to me, the real thrill that art can deliver. Somewhere there’s a balance to be struck, for all of us, between purely sensational & shocking and that soothing beauty that lulls us back to what we know. As with all things aesthetic, what pulls us and ignites our enthusiasm plays a large part.
AS a buyer of art you must always follow your own taste and your heart. If you like something that’s a great place to start. Many people keen to start collecting go to the degree shows of art colleges or follow advice from critics and dealers or ‘gallerists’ ,(a word I detest). I would not advise following trends in a copycat way, far better to be BRAVE and follow your own instincts ! !
SO WHERE DO I START ?
First; how do you find art in these times? Unless you know artists in your area, look online, on platforms like Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook or even Tumblr. After exploring these for the last few years, I find Instagram is the best but all of them can be good. It really depends which one you like best. I have had to dive deep into a few platforms before finding other artists that were anywhere close to my niche.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR :
You will know when you see it. Because you have been unconsciously forming your tastes since childhood, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE DRAWN TO WHAT YOU LIKE.
Find an individual, someone who stands out, to you. Any age or background, if you like their work, that’s what’s important.
There are many so-called artists in the world, and unfortunately there is much really bad art. For now, let’s focus on the positive.
You need to find an artist with the necessary skill – depending on the type of art.
Find an artist with their own individual voice and something to say.
GETTING STARTED : Some Ideas
§ It’s a good idea to start small. Obviously you will be making a smaller investment, and works that are not so big are easier to display.
§ Look for online shows like “Incognito”- google it; it’s an annual Charity exhibition in aid of The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation with all works priced at €50. There are small paintings by many well known artists as well as thousands of amateurs.
§ Be brave ! Believe in your own taste and judgement.
§ Educate yourself.
§ Following your instincts will lead you along the road to learning more and growing your passion. There’s so much out there for you to find!
Art is a language
Art is a form of communication, a language. An artist can convey feelings and a message. The truest art forms can bring us into the soul of their creator. That can be a painting or sculpture or a piece of music. For example, I have found deep and unexplainable feelings when I stood in front of the large paintings of Mark Rothko. I have had similar feelings with sculpture, music and architecture. Because there is limited space in one article I hope to write more about this in future.
It may be too ambitious to think that you can acquire and own great works of art like this yourself, except for a reproduction of some museum masterpiece – unless you are extremely wealthy!
The many and the few
Some art communicates universally , and some to only a few. But the pathways are often opened up by several passionate enthusiasts without whom the many might never get to know them. Iconic masterpieces become world famous- (Van Gogh Sunflowers , Leonardo Mona Lisa). However, many of the thousands who congregate and take selfies in front of a famous work may not get a very meaningful communication with the mind of the artist. So you may need more time and some solitude to get a full experience.
And Finally …
I encourage you to just get started, if that’s what you want to do. As I finish this I’m listening to one of Beethoven’s last great string quartets – to me a perfect example of great art that triumphs over all obstacles and that can reach into your heart today- 200 years after it was written.
I plan to write more around the topics that I’ve touched on here so please stay tuned! I invite you to join my mailing list to get updates when there is a new post.
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