12 Feb 2008

Signature style or experimental works?

Many artists believe in sticking to one particular genre of painting, even a theme and continue to work with it over the years. They perfect their style, their command over the subject and technique. They deal with the theme in a similar manner and continue to create works that has only slight variations – as it may appear to a viewer. While this may appeal to some, others may find it boring or repetitive.

Buyers often wonder if they should buy an artist’s signature style or look at something more experimental. It could be new media, a new concept or something that is radically different. The answer is very subjective, if you like a signature work then you should definitely buy it. If the artist is well known or a brand by himself, the price will definitely appreciate over the years. But, if it is a work that puts you off for its monotonous look then it is better to opt for more variety and go for an experimental or non-traditional work. Just as people differ in their choice of décor for their homes, art is also a reflection of one’s taste. What appeals to one may repel the other. Contemporary artists are doing well at the moment and their works are also generally more experimental.

But, from the point of view of investment most signature works are fairly safe and are likely to appreciate with time. Also, one must remember, if you are talking about modern artists these are likely to do better in the long run, even if the contemporary market seems to performing well currently.

What about experimental or rare works by these well known artists? Are they a good investment? That again depends. Even a doodle by Leonardo da Vinci or Picasso has tremendous value, but our Indian artists are yet to reach that stage. But in all probability it does appear that they will soon command prices that may not be at par with their Western counterparts but will definitely reach greater heights compared to their current status.

(Published in Financial Times)

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