19 Nov 2008

Is this is a good time to buy art?

(Nalini S Malaviya)

A couple of readers wanted to know if this is a good time to buy art. Well, if you are not suffering from a liquidity crunch, then the answer is yes, this is definitely a good time to pick up some serious art. The art market is going through a critical phase and it will be a while before it stabilises. But, here are a few good reasons to buy art,
* For the first time in many years prices are coming close to being reasonable.
* Quite a few galleries and dealers are now willing to negotiate prices.
* Due to a cash crunch some investors are letting go of quality works at lowered prices.
* For the same reason, good works are likely to come up at auctions
* Galleries are likely to focus on better quality works in order to woo the discerning buyer.
* Artists are likely to slow down their frenzied pace (remember, a few years ago artists were accused of resorting to mass producing their works) and focus once again on quality.

The trend appears to be shifting somewhat from the investment aspect of art to its aesthetic or intrinsic value. It therefore appears that decorative and affordable art will do well in the interim period, but serious collectors are on the lookout for excellent works.

As a buyer, for you, an ideal work of art is one that can combine the aesthetic and financial investment components. To buy a work, one can either do a systematic research and zero in on to the artist or even the art work, or one can visit ongoing art shows and pick one that appeals visually and also suits ones wallet. The former has more chances of being a winner in the long term, as it is backed by appropriate research.

Art lovers not welcome!
In closing I wanted to mention that on one hand most galleries are cribbing about the current situation where sales are hit and even footfalls are reduced, on the other hand one hears of instances where walk-ins are actively discouraged. Last week it happened to me as well, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. It also made me wonder, what about the enthusiastic buyer who decides to check out the art gallery round the corner, hoping to find something suitable for that empty space above the sofa? Does he then turn back after encountering sullen staff, wishing he had never ventured into such hallowed surroundings? Well, one hopes these are isolated cases and don’t become a popular trend.

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