Last week, art dealer Carole Pinto shared her expert advice on how to cultivate a sharp eye for distinguishing great art from mediocre works in part 1 of our Art Smart series . Today, she picks up where she left off, and shares her advice for building a collection you’ll love.
There’s nothing as powerful as experiencing art in person to develop a strong sense of which works are exceptional (and stir your soul). But here are a few more ways to train your eye and build the kind of knowledge that enables you to be a confident collector.
As you’re spending time in museums, galleries, and even auction houses, bolster your knowledge with art publications. Exhibition catalogues (available for purchase at galleries, museums, or auction houses) and academic books written by experts—along with the art sections of major newspapers—are rich with information about the art market.
And collectors of all kinds can benefit from a reliable art advisor, an expert who helps find and identify artworks. An art advisor could be a dealer who specializes in a particular field or artist, a specialist in an auction house, or a museum curator, all of whom should be able to explain why one work is superior to another. Did the painter succeed in conveying a particular atmosphere thanks to a luminous palette of colors or rhythmic brushwork? Did a sculptor use a specific carving method in order to emphasize the expressiveness of the facial features? Did a ceramicist adapt a new technique to highlight the details of a vase? Asking an art advisor to guide you through a work, with the benefit of his or her honed understanding, can be invaluable. The advisor’s feedback, combined with the knowledge you have acquired, should help you understand why one work is superior to another. But always keep in mind the element of subjectivity that one viewer brings to his or her view of a work of art, and what makes one particular work resonate for one person might have no effect on another person—and that’s okay. You don’t have to love everything—or anything—an expert loves.
The quest for quality means that purchasing the very best work of lesser-known artists should take precedence over buying mediocre pieces from well-known artists. In bull markets, all boats will rise, but in bear markets, only the best quality works will retain their value.
Last week, I mentioned that my personal approach to buying art begins with a strong visceral reaction and then moves on to more pragmatic considerations—authenticity, condition, and provenance. And my best advice for all collectors is simple: Buy art that you want to look at every day of your life, and trust what you see, not only what you hear.