The pros and cons of various art buying venues


  1. direct atelier

    1. if you happen to know artists

    2. if artist not yet represented, can buy below retail prices

    3. gives you a wonderful sense of supporting a real person’s artistic voice and ambitions

    4. can be the beginning of a lifelong relationship

    5. if the artist is represented you will need to pay gallery commissions

  2. galleries

    1. biggest galleries tend to show internationally-recognized artists

    2. smaller or newer galleries present emerging, often more local, artists

    3. some are working with modern and postwar art.

    4. Paris has a very long history as an art market; it is still the 4th place for art market, after NYC, China, and London

    5. From the price of a work, usually 50% goes to the gallery, 50% to artist.

    6. If artist is represented by multiple galleries, each party takes a cut of that percentage.

    7. typically galleries pay a commission to consultants or advisors

    8. galleries may offer discounts to regular clients

  3. auction houses (lots more to discuss next week!)

    1. again Paris is tops for auctions

    2. can buy in person, through an advisor, or online

    3. can get some great deals

    4. can get caught up in adrenaline

    5. percentage goes to house

  4. internet

    1. A truly impersonal transaction

    2. lots of choice, hard to verify authenticity, state of the work etc

    3. takes practice to know how a work viewed online translates into the real world object

  5. through an art advisor

    1. has access to widest offerings across galleries, private collections, auctions, ateliers etc

    2. works with you on collection goals and strategies

    3. notifies you of works of interest

    4. accompanies you if you wish to galleries, fairs and auctions

    5. can negotiate on your behalf

    6. can be paid on retainer, by percentage, or by commission from galleries and artists -- make sure you clarify up front

  6. fairs

    1. offering the possibility of seeing the latest productions of thousand of artists at the same time
    2. exposure to international galleries -- without taking a plane
    3. becoming an important source of revenue for traditional galleries


Another view:

How to start an art collection with $1,000 or less, by The Guardian's Culture Blog, October 2013