26 Feb 2008

Appreciate art before investing

As art finds a prominent spot in your morning newspaper, chances are that you will come across reviews and a lot of other information about art shows. As there are very few art critics in the country, most reviews and write-ups are done by journalists and freelance writers. Many people buy art based on what they read. It helps to know that media coverage about art shows depends on a lot of factors such as how prominent and well-known the artist is, in case there is a PR agency involved - how well they market it, and also to some extent the gallery’s standing. In that case should one buy art from shows that get extensive coverage across newspapers and other publications? Media hype is good to some extent and helps in establishing the artist, but of course not all good artists receive the same amount of attention.

However, there are several advantages in following updates on art, for one it keeps you abreast of happenings in the art world. It gives you an idea about trends, popularity of artists and price bands. Then again reading about art shows or their reviews gives you a better understanding of the artist’s perspective, and also the artworks. Artist interviews in particular give a glimpse of what the artist had in mind while creating the artwork, how it evolved, and the thought process behind it. Therefore, when you visit the art show, you will be in a better position to assess and evaluate the art in the right context.

Understanding the piece of art or relating to it is the first step in appreciating it. It helps to remember that the response to any art is a very personal experience, and can be extremely subjective. Therefore, you should always visit an art show with an open mind. Your response to it may be very different from the writer’s perspective. The more you learn to appreciate art, the better your judgement will be when planning your art investment.

(Published in Financial Times)

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