Our definition of contemporary art investment is changing

01 March 2018|investment |James Nicholls

Our definition of contemporary art investment is changing

The contemporary art investment market has been highly publicised recently for some sky-high auction sales – most notably for works by Jean-Michael Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein – but this doesn’t tell us the whole story. In fact, here at Maddox Gallery, we firmly believe there are plenty of valuable works to be enjoyed for much, much less.

What to invest in

For many young collectors, street art is their first experience of the contemporary art investment scene, thanks to the huge popularity of artists such as Banksy, Bradley Theodore and Mr Brainwash. Large-scale murals can be seen in cities around the world, and are often highly publicised across social media.

However, this is in turn leading to a renewed interest in Pop Art. “People who began collecting street art started exploring where it came from, looking to the ’60s and ’70s,” Ian Whyte, managing director at Whyte’s Auction House, recently explained to the Irish Independent. He cites graffiti artist Banksy as ‘another Warhol’, whose art remains highly bankable.

In any case, we always encourage our visitors to invest with their eyes and choose work they truly enjoy. That being said, once you have decided on the type of art you’re most interested in, we can offer advice on exciting artists currently working in this style.

How contemporary art investment works

When it comes to contemporary art investment, what many of our visitors really want is interesting and exciting artwork which will appreciate in value while they enjoy it.

“You need to find the balance between buying because you like it and because it’s reasonable value,” advises Rory Guthrie, who manages the art department at deVeres. “It’s not about wanting to make a huge profit, but if your money is safe and you can enjoy a good picture, that’s a good place to start.”

As a result, the contemporary art investment market is the same as any other, in that it relies on individuals to do their research. Once you’ve found a style of work that strikes a chord with you, educate yourself on that artistic movement and learn about the biggest names in the market. Find out which galleries represent these artists, and attend their exhibitions.

If you are looking to invest for the first time, we recommend finding an artist who is already establishing a firm reputation in the art world and has representation from a known gallery.

You should be able to research online and find out the price of their work and the course of their career. That will help you to understand whether you are paying a fair price.

Where will your art go?

Over recent years, the contemporary art investment scene has diversified hugely. People are now choosing to buy art for a huge range of reasons.

I’ve previously discussed how different generations see art as a fixed asset, an inheritance, an impact investment or simply on the basis of personal enjoyment. Art is even being displayed in the workplace, with research by The British Council for Offices proving that art makes the workplace feel more welcoming and stimulates creativity.

Contemporary art investment is also being driven by new architecture and interior design trends. Christophe Van de Weghe, Madison Avenue blue-chip art dealer, explains: “All these new buildings – with high ceilings, big windows – they scream for contemporary art.”

Whatever your reason for buying artwork, make sure to take proper care of it. Consider the whole lifetime of a piece, especially if you plan to display it in the home. Making the effort to frame it properly will help to conserve its quality and value, wherever you choose to display it.
Maddox Gallery offers a full framing, delivery and storage service for this very purpose, ensuring works are properly cared for.

Who to make your purchase from

If you’re putting your hard-earned wealth in contemporary art investment, seeking expert advice should be a natural step in the process. The journey to a wise art purchase often begins by establishing a relationship with a trusted gallery.

For one thing, galleries generally have a strong relationship with the artists they represent.

Art galleries effectively invest in artists, putting time and effort into championing works in the belief that they are valuable and will be appreciated by art lovers and collectors.

As a result of this, galleries are also keen to form a good relationship with their visitors, educate them on the art on show and support them through the buying process. Any good art gallery will welcome questions from visitors and enjoy sharing their knowledge. After all, if you were investing in any other asset, you’d certainly be asking questions.

“Galleries are friendly places,” explains art consultant Suzanne MacDougald. “The idea that they are intimidating places you have to tip-toe around and talk in hushed tones goes back 30 years.”

Whether you’re looking to enter the contemporary art investment market, or you already have a growing collection, visit Maddox Gallery to enjoy our roster of talented artists and learn more from our expert Sotheby’s-trained art consultants.

Written by James Nicholls, Chairman, Maddox Gallery.

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