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How To Be an Art Collector

Oct 8, 2014 Art

Artweek, October 10-19

Photo by Jane Ussher.


Auckland Artweek, the annual celebration of visual art of all kinds, is back with a packed programme of free talks, tours, exhibitions and special events, at galleries and pop-up spaces across the city. For gallerists such as Emma Fox (above), co-director of the Fox-Jensen Gallery, Artweek is an opportunity to help demystify contemporary art for newcomers. Fox will be joining Tim Melville at his gallery to talk about art collecting for newbies (Collecting Contemporary, October 18). She gave Metro some of her best tips:

Look, look, look

“No one would buy the first car they’re shown, or the first house. It’s the same with collecting. By looking — a lot — you can discover your taste and whether what you’re seeing is a good example of the kind of thing you like.

“I do a lot of work with art-buying groups [small collectives in which money is pooled to buy art] and they tend to want something on their walls quickly. They end up buying 10 small things so they all have one, which is the worst thing they could do. If you only ever buy two pieces in your lifetime, but they’re the best possible pieces, then that’s ultimately a lot better than owning 10 mediocre things.”

Look with your eyes, not with your ears

“Take advice, but don’t let it rule your decision-making process. Remember most experts have an ulterior motive — they want you to buy from them, not from someone else. So it’s about finding advice you trust, and then listening to your gut. The main question should always be, do you love it?”

Auctions are not for beginners

“If you can afford to make a mistake, fine. But you can choose from five pieces in a gallery that might represent the artist better than the one you just paid too much for. With auctions they’re playing on your fear that you’re going to miss out. They’re just too high pressure for new collectors, and it’s too easy to make a mistake.”


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