There are no guarantees for the financial performance of an artwork. The art market is highly fragmented and each micro-market within the art market, both for living and deceased artists, is subject to cycles and fashions.
That said, there are certain factors I take into account when advising a client on an acquisition, the same way that financial advisors judge opportunities in stocks, bonds or other investments. This column focuses on one of those factors: the impact of a living artist's career path on the monetary value of his or her work.
Contrary to popular belief, an artist has to work at building a career as diligently as the rest of us. Sitting in the studio and waiting for Gagosian to pop in with a contract is not the best strategy. Artists with the best chances of success are constantly plugging away at their careers, not only by working on their art but by building a network of contacts that can lead to gallery contracts, exhibitions and sales.
Although artists in ever-increasing numbers are highly successful at marketing and selling their own art, it is still beneficial for an artist to be represented by a well-respected and professional gallery. A good gallery will hold exhibitions for their artists and facilitate sales, thus building their artists’ resumés by getting them exposure.
A resumé is a good indication of an artist’s career progression. You can find it on the artist’s website or on the website of the gallery that represents the aritst's work. A resumé contains group and solo shows, prizes, awards and grants won, publications the artist has been featured in and press received. It also lists the names of public institutions and private collectors that have acquired the artist's work.
What does this mean for a collector? To begin with, setting aside other drivers of value for now, the financial performance of a contemporary artwork produced by a living artist correlates to the artist’s career track. Secondly, gallery representation is a third party validation by experts in the art industry who put time, effort and money into making sure that their artists are successful. So include these factors in your research. In next month’s column we will continue the discussion of what to look for when buying contemporary art.
Annelien Bruins is COO and Senior Art Advisor at Tang Art Advisory. The content of this article is for informational purposes only. ©Annelien Bruins 2015.
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