"The case for buying art – even if it is a luxury!"
And, why it’s even okay to purchase art directly from artists - right now.
By Marie-Thérèse Beddoes
2009 - June
"The paradigm has shifted. Less than a year ago, the wealthy [or seemingly rich] were in a feeding frenzy – scooping up contemporary art - at the most notable of galleries, art expos and auction houses in New York, Miami, Paris, London, Venice and beyond.
The value of the art work was highly inflated – boosted by the insatiable appetites of those who wanted to consume and who believed the spin… “you must own this.” The spin-meisters? Gallerists, curators & art "advisors" who had something to gain. Less-than-well-executed paintings, broken pottery, preserved wildlife, graffiti, cartoons - even excrement – was touted as “important,” as precious, as invaluable – and hundreds of thousands – if not several millions of dollars were spent. “Good” art seemed out of reach for all but the top echelon.
And the art purchased? Its value has plummeted [like most things]. It is possible it will never recover the value paid. The “investors” were sold not on quality, but on the buzz created by clever marketers.
So why buy art now? Because no one else is. Visual artists throughout the world have suffered the lingering drag of the economy. Hardly anyone is attending the “big shows” sales have slumped, prices have dropped, and galleries have closed. The artists, creating their work alone in their studios are still making fabulous art. It can be had for a song…right now. You don’t need to believe the buzz… just believe your heart. Sure, visit the galleries – visit the expos – but going directly to the artist is neither a sin – nor a mistake. If you find work that calls to you – and it is affordable – buy it. Buy it now.
First ask yourself these questions – Is this particular art something:
· Forever – Do you want to live with for eternity? Will it have meaning to your children or a museum someday?
· Of quality? Is it exceptionally well made?
· Of unquestionable integrity? That demonstrate honesty – does it reveal something about the artist, his or her vision – does it tell a story?
· Unique – is it extraordinary? The only one of its kind – not manufactured or created by one of the artist’s assistants? Is it rare enough – distinctive? Some artists churn out work on an assembly line – [and some galleries sell it] make sure this isn’t seen everywhere.
· Irreplaceable? Not just in the sense that it is insurable… do you dream about owning it?
· Impractical? I’m not talking about a clever lampshade or hand-bound journal – the art you buy should not necessarily have a purpose. Art is not supposed to be efficient!
· Admired? Do others feel the same passion for the artist as you do?
Is it a luxury? You bet. So why buy direct from the artist?
· People. People like to buy from people. You’ll create a relationship with the artist. You know what makes them tick and why their unique gift – their art - is the art that speaks to your soul. You will know each other for years to come. The artist will stay in touch – will show you their new work first – will invite you to their shows… and they’ll love you forever just for buying their work.
· Pleasure. Luxury consumption – buying art - is all about the experience – your senses will come alive – you will have an emotional connection to the art – you will derive great satisfaction from owning the one-and-only piece.
· Purpose. As non-utilitarian as your art purchase may be… it still has a purpose – it is décor after all – it will have its place on your wall or on a pedestal.
In conclusion, what may seem to be a luxury – buying art – from the artist, is actually a very sensible and practical move - in this economy – at this moment.
In time, the art market may shift back to the old paradigm. So in the meantime, supporting working artists is more important than ever. Is not just a wise financial assumption, it will be good for your soul [and theirs]. And, the benefit of staring at your art purchase at your home of office may keep your heart fluttering until the economy returns to normal."