COLLECT: Step-By-Step Collecting

The New York Times’ T Magazine Lays Out the Step-By-Step of Collecting

T Magazine breaks down the process of collecting from how to purchase a work at a gallery and what fairs to attend to the need-to-know of buying at auction and who to call when you need to move, frame, or repair an artwork.

The Gallery Game

Show your face: tour the galleries, sign up for their mailing lists and make an effort to get to know the gallerists and dealers. “Call at least once a month to check in, and attend openings at the gallery. You have to work hard to establish and keep the relationship.”

Buying Photography

How do you know if you’re buying an original? Check for the artist’s signature or the work’s provenance. Size affects price with contemporary work, but the value of vintage photographs is determined by the quality of the print (each one is different even though they may be of the same image by the same artist), the photographer and what the actual image is.

Navigating the Fairs

Where to find:
Blue Chip: Art Basel Miami Beach, Frieze, The Armory Show
Rising Stars: New Art Dealers Alliance (N.A.D.A.), PULSE Contemporary Art FairArt Platform—Los Angeles
Bargains: Affordable Art Fair, Scope Art Fair

Asking Art Advisors

They have insider knowledge and “spend 24/7 looking at art.” Their networks are wide and they make the art-buying process “more personal than dealing directly with a gallery.” See ForYourArt’s ongoing How to Find an Advisor series for more specifics.

Auction Etiquette

Sign up for the email list, invest in a catalog subscription, attend the preview and do your homework—“Since auction records are public knowledge, research what comparable works have sold for at auction and go in with an idea of what you want to spend.” And don’t forget to speak to an expert, who can often be found on the sales floor. And hang on to your paddle—“ Don’t scratch your nose with the paddle during the bidding. If you accidentally place a bid, make sure the auctioneer is aware of it before the gavel comes down.”

More detailed information about art handlers, insurers and conservationists can be found here.

by Alexis M. Johnson

from “The Full Picture” by Madhu Puri, published December 2, 2007

Also see Finding An Art Advisor: Nancy Chaikin.