A Beginner’s Guide to Purchasing Art

A Beginner’s Guide to Purchasing Art

A Beginner’s Guide to Purchasing Art

Starting your art collection can be daunting, that’s why we asked our designers for their tips and advice on incorporating art into your home.

Sure you’ve bought “art” before, but now you’re ready for something serious—and that makes you seriously intimidated. Dipping your toe into the art world can be overwhelming, which is why we asked our designers for tips on starting a collection.

Follow your taste

It tends to get lost in the shuffle, but the number one thing to consider when picking a piece of art for yourself is: do you like it? While it might seem hard to trust your gut on such high-minded matters, finding a piece of art you’ll love means choosing based on what you truly love.

“First and foremost the art has to speak to you,” Homepolish designer Alec Holland explains. “Regardless of what you pay, the piece should be something that brings you joy or makes you contemplative or gives you a boost of energy everytime you look at it.”

By focusing on something that speaks to you, versus something you’ve been told has value, your enjoyment will endure. The right piece will not only fit your space now, but should be something that will continue to feel relevant as your home changes.

We love the the subtle artwork in this living room designed by Alec Holland, but Jacques Martin-Ferrières’ “Paysage de vignes autour” de Cahors would look equally stunning in the space.

“A real piece of art should fit into any space and any interior,” designer Tali Roth concurs. “If you buy a piece you love, it will always have a space in your home.”

Of course, not all works are created equal. Tali draws the line between the art you might buy to say, round out a room, versus pieces you might purchase as a standalone complement to your taste.

“Decorative art is wonderful too and can ‘match’ a mood of an interior, but that is purchased with a different intention,” she explains.

The metallic punch and curvaceous silhouette of Man Ray’s “La Vierge apprivoisée” would add extra panache to this living room designed by Crystal Sinclair.

But cultivate it

While your personal taste is innate, that doesn’t mean you should start buying immediately. Explore what sorts of pieces you are drawn to and research what you like to learn more about why you like it. By delving into your interests, you’ll learn to better identify your preferences.

“See what moves you,” Alec encourages. “As an example, Mid-Century is a wide net. Do you love abstraction? Do you love portraits? Do you love collage? Do you love the humor? Walk through a museum or gallery that shows art you connect with and see what piece stays with you. Go back to it and really stare at it. Think about why it moves you.”

By giving yourself time, you’ll ensure you aren’t just making knee-jerk aesthetic selections.

“Take your time,” Tali advises. “Tastes are influenced by fashion, but art should be something really authentic and timeless—especially when you are investing in it.”

Once you’ve latched onto an artwork that grabs you, expand your collection by choosing similar pieces. If you want to start building a collection, you could focus on an era, a style of work (say oils vs sketches), or even a very specific genre or movement.

“Art certainly can mix across styles and eras, but choosing a genre will help to focus in on first what you are drawn to, and then you can start to educate yourself on what makes art from that movement important,” Alec recommends.

But don’t narrow too finely. You aren’t curating a retrospective—avoid sticking to one artist and expand the purview of your collection by opting for the work of contemporaries or like-minded artists from other time periods.

The subtle tonality of this dining room designed by Jesse Turek would be a perfect match for Elisèe Maclet’s “Rue Saint-Vincent, Montmartre.”

Give yourself permission to invest

It can feel daunting to pull the trigger on a large purchase, but the important thing to remember is you aren’t just buying the piece but it’s pedigree. Artworks of this nature aren’t meant to be temporary or trendy.

“I liken purchasing art to jewelry or accessories, like a vintage Rolex watch or a perfect strand of pearls” says Alec Holland. “These are items that you know are an investment that you will love forever—pieces that will be passed down through generations.”

Investment shouldn’t immediately conjure up images of flipping works for profit. Unless you are planning to heavily invest time into becoming a dealer (doing lots of leg work researching values and keeping up with the the market’s ups and down), don’t pick works based on dividends. Instead focus on pieces that you can enjoy now and for as long as they’re yours.

Designer Louisa Guy Roeder‘s cheery sitting area would be the perfect home for Dora Maar “Paysage Cubiste, Ciel Roseavailable at Sotheby’s.

Ready to get started? Sotheby’s is doing their part to open the art world up to more potential collectors with their online sales. Perusable by the general public, you can shop pieces from the comfort of your own home. Open from now until February 6, The Impressionist & Modern Art Online sale offers a wealth of options from top-tier collectors, including fresh-to-market lively Cubist paintings, atmospheric oil works, a rare collage by Armenian-French artist Léon Artur Tutundjian, and a selection of Surrealist objects by Man Ray. Shop their selection here.