Advice on Collecting Contemporary Art Courtesy of the Contemporary Art Society
Buying contemporary art is a highly pleasurable and rewarding activity. For those who can afford to, arguably the most rewarding way of engaging with art is to have the privilege of living with it on a daily basis and to have a long-term relationship with it over time as part of your life. Collecting is also vitally important for artists and the galleries that represent them.
If you are thinking about collecting contemporary art, here is some basic advice:
• Look at as much art as you can. Apart from being a highly rewarding social activity, it is by far the best way to develop your eye as a collector. Visit as many galleries – both public and commercial – as possible, and as many public institutions and their permanent collections as you can.
• When looking at art, focus on your response to the work. Try to look at the art for some time before resorting to the exhibition notes in order to develop your critical autonomy. Reflect on your initial response and look deeper in order to develop a more rigorous understanding of what triggers personal taste and inclinations. This takes time and involves looking at as much art as possible.
• Reading the specialist art press and research are important in order to develop your knowledge about the key movements in art history, to identify current trends and ideas in contemporary practice, critically engaged artists and the galleries which represent them, and what is happening in the market.
• Become a supporter of a public institution or a membership organisation like the Contemporary Art Society, to access independent specialist advice and programmes on contemporary collecting.
• Develop relationships with reputable galleries that sell critically engaged art. Join their mailing lists and attend private views and openings whenever possible.
• Serious and committed collectors also attend international art fairs, biennales and exhibition openings and ensure they keep abreast of the latest developments in the established and emerging art centres.
• Don’t rush. Spend time looking, researching and reading rather than impulse buying. Develop your knowledge, engagement and a framework for your collection, so it is coherent.
• When you are considering a purchase, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. This is all part of the learning process and sometimes mistakes can be productive in the development of a collection.
Things to consider when buying art, please click here for further information.
Contemporary Art Society Members event, Haunch of Venison, London.
Jonas Burgert and Castellani/
Judd/ Flavin/ Uecker exhibition
Contemporary Art Society Members event, Print Seminar 21 November 2009, V&A London
Contemporary Art Society Members event, Visit to the Museum of Everything, 4 November 2009, London
The Contemporary Art Society is the national membership organisation for contemporary collecting. Since 1910, it has used its independent curatorial expertise to offer programmes for collectors at all stages of their collecting. The Contemporary Art Society is a charity and monies raised are used to purchase new works of contemporary art for public collections across the UK.
If you would like to develop your knowledge of contemporary art and collecting visit the Contemporary Art Society website at www.contemporaryartsociety.org