Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why Buy Art?

This year has been some what puzzling. The economy is supposed to be in the tank, no pun intended. We all shudder every time we fill up at the gas pump. The news is filled with one depressing story after another about the housing market, the price of food, etc, and yet we are selling paintings. I don't know if this will hold up, but we are naturally hopeful.

The number of total paintings sold year-to-date is actually down a little, but the sales figures are way up. The people coming in to look at art and purchase, are looking at the investment grade work. Paintings by the more established regionalist artists. We have been selling paintings in the $1,400.00 - $2,500.00 range. At a time when people are cutting back, it seems they are still looking to make purchases that make them feel good, beautify their homes and represent an investment that may potentially out perform most other investment options.

Sales of paintings at Sotheby's, Christie's and other big auction houses remain impressively high. A record was set recently for a painting by a living artist. A Jasper Johns painting sold for seven million dollars. The year before a David Smith sculpture sold for a record 23.8 million. World wide art sales are climbing to record highs every year as new wealth is built in previously depressed countries. Moscow now has more millionaires than any city in the world and they are buying art. There are dozens of similar stories and they collectively are driving the art market to astonishing levels.

Obviously we are not dealing with multi million dollar paintings here in Central Square. We are dealing however, with good quality regional art that represents decent investment potential. I am not advocating buying art strictly as an investment. Buy it because you love it, because you connect in some way to an artist or a particular piece of work. On the other hand, an individual with an interest in art, who wants to learn, can easily begin to build a collection without spending a fortune. A collection that will appreciate in value. I do not recommend prints, although there can be some potential there, the market has been flooded with prints over the last 20 years to the point that values are down in general. High quality original works are more affordable than many people realize and are far and away the better investment!

I am frequently asked to frame fifty dollar prints with expensive mouldings and multiple mats and conservation glass. They look great and a lot of people are perfectlty happy, even though they now have a three hundred and fifty dollar frame on a fifty dollar print. I think the mindset among a lot of folks is that they can't afford to buy original art. Some people may be intimidated and afraid to trust their own taste. They may not realize there are many artists whose original paintings can be purchased for under five hundred dollars.

Most galleries have approval plans and lay-away plans that make it very easy to purchase a piece of art. Unless you are buying classic cars, when was the last time you bought a car and twenty years later it was worth four or five times what you paid for it? You should remember of course that art work is not a liquid asset. Unless you are able to buy at the top of the market you may not be able to sell immediately. Artwork represents a long term investment.

Vistit an art gallery soon! Fall in love with art and begin your collection. I do have to issue the following disclaimer however, "COLLECTING ART CAN BE ADDICTING!"


1 comment:

Mick said...

An excellent post here, K.V., and I often wonder if an Arts Salon Night for Collectors - for the purpose of discussing issues like these - would be productive.