15 Dec 2008

Get familiar with the art market

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Given the market situation, investors should utilize the opportunity to learn more about art and to keep a look out for good deals that may be on offer now. Here are a few steps to help you get started.

Look at art
This may sound old fashioned in today’s technological age where many transactions take place virtually with the click of a mouse, the fact remains that nothing can replace the joy of physically standing before a beautiful painting.
Although, many art exhibitions have been postponed indefinitely, a substantial number is still being held, and one should therefore continue to visit art shows, galleries and museums to look at art and become familiar with artists and their styles. Physically looking at art is very different from seeing its image as a photograph or on the Internet. Wherever, possible one should look at original art. It will also give you clarity on what appeals to you.

This is a good time to go through art history books and publications. Browse through articles, news reports, auction reports and catalogues to understand trends and price points. Read reviews to understand the artist’s work in a larger context.
Note down names of those artists who appear regularly on auction catalogues. Check their performances in the auction results and it will be a good indicator of the artist’s demand and market price (secondary market). Evaluate the artist’s career in terms of stability, growth and price trend. It helps to verify the credentials of the art gallery supporting the artist. Compare current prices with previous ones – again this is a good indicator of an artist’s potential and his market confidence.

Make a wish list
Based on your research, prepare a wish list for your portfolio. Which artists would you like to see in that list? You could also go further and make a list of the actual works that appeal to you. However, be prepared that these may not be available immediately. But, you can keep a lookout for them in forthcoming auctions or through dealers.

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