An Introduction to Collecting Art
Updated: May 2, 2020
When you think about it, we all collect some form of art.
For most of us, the paintings we own are not museum grade originals by the Group of Seven and their Contemporaries. The pictures we mount on our walls are there to match our décor or cover empty walls.
Several years ago a young Art Dealer at the time, suggested to me that if you are going to hang something on your walls at home, why not invest in art that moves you and could hold or increase its monetary value over time. I thought to myself, what a novel idea - but where do I start?
Choosing artwork is not as simple as walking into a gallery and picking something to hang on your wall. Selecting appropriate works of art involves time and requires prospective buyers to do their homework. Art is an accessory in the home, that should add interest and sophistication to a room without creating unnecessary clutter or distraction.
The first rule is to buy a piece of art because it moves you. Make sure the painting speaks to you. Since the art market for the most part, consists of illiquid assets, once you have purchased a piece plan on owning and enjoying it for some time.
Secondly, think original! The limited edition print market served a purpose during the 80s and 90s. However, that market has now diminished. In contrast, if you acquire an original work by a mid-tier Canadian artist and it is a superb example of his or her work, not only should the painting hold its value, but it should increase in value over time. Spending as little as $1,500 to $2,000 per painting is a great starting point. There is a significant amount of very collectible, historical Canadian art in that price range. However do not expect to make a fast buck when entering this market.
Third, do a lot of research regarding your potential purchase online, with books and through the assistance of Dealers’ art galleries. Remember that Art Dealers have expenses so expect up to a 50% mark-up on the price if you buy through a gallery. Auction houses across the country offer guidance and assistance as well. Be careful if you want to try your hand at bidding during a live or on-line auction. Sometimes bidders can get carried away with the thrill of the moment and spend far more than they anticipated. There are also some additional fees after the final bid.
Provenance is also very important. If the price seems too good to be true, then there could be a problem with the piece. Knowing where your painting came from (i.e. a prominent estate/collector/dealer) helps authenticate the piece and ensure the painting has not been tampered with. Be aware that there are many forgeries, even in the Canadian art market.
In closing, collecting original Canadian art can provide a lot of pleasure for you and your family. Remember that it is an expensive hobby and making as few mistakes as possible is the key. Be aware that the price of art does move up and down just like publicly traded stocks. Most importantly do not be intimidated, and have fun with the experience.