Guide to start a contemporary art collection (1/2)

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The act of buying a work of art is a pretty basic concept to picture and understand for most people. However, collecting art is a very different and much more complex undertaking. Starting your own contemporary art collection doesn’t rely only on tastes or urges, it demands long term implication. 

The essential aim is still about buying what you like but an art collection deserves to be unique and reflecting your image. By definition, it requires some planification and a few number of elements are to be considered. No worries, Artsper has thought it through and you only need to follow the guide in order to assimilate the good habits.

Here is the first part of this two-part guide.


#1 Educate your eye





First rule to keep in mind is that there is no need to be an expert to have an opinion! In fact, every informed amateur can formulate what he likes or doesn’t.

Roaming around galeries and museums, visiting exhibitions and educating your eye will enable you to obtain a wiser look upon the contemporary artistic scene. The art world can sometimes appear as elitist but it is really at everyone’s reach if only you give yourself the means to. Shaping your own taste or just learning to know it and define it only depends on you.

Refer to the Artsper calendar in order to know about exhibitions currently on in our partner galleries, or to the articles outlining the most important artistic events and try to see as much art as you can and therefore define what you like or don’t.


#2 Quality before quantity




Collecting takes time. In fact, it is essential to favour quality instead of quantity and try to avoid as much as possible to make acquisitions that can potentially become regrets. If you don’t start by doing some prior research on internet or by educating your eye, you are taking the risk of buying artworks only because they have been buzzed-out and not according to your own taste. It is important to take your time and increase your knowledge and learn to master your tastes in order not to fall into the trap of making a purchase dictated by a trend or because of someone telling you about the rate of an artist is likely to grow higher over the years.

Go through the different categories on Artsper’s website, from young talents to masterpieces, as well as our staff picks.


#3 Learn about the way the market works


Auctioneer takes bids for the sale of "The Scream" painted by Edvard Munch at Sotheby's in New York


For that, learn to get concerned by auction sales and the way the contemporary art market operates. Different to all other markets, the art market distinguishes itself by the fact art being a goods that goes further than the simple basic object. A work of art carries an aura that differenciates it from any other kind of object, even luxury goods. It is therefore the reason why the market has its own particularities, as much as in theory than in practice.

You can start by refering to the Hiscox report on the art market online. It lists every year the great tendencies of art market on the internet, in constant development. It will enable you to grasp the first notions of such a particular world.


#4 Looking at great personnalities of History of Art




Refering to the story of important collectors and great personnalities of the contemporary art world can help you guide your research. Many stories and characters have left their mark on History of Art and keeping in mind some reference points when in front of a work of art is a plus. It enables to re-contextualize the artwork or the artist even, in relation to its peers’ production.

That way you will get an idea on the artwork’s positionning and its relevance. Don’t get fooled by a pale copy of a style or composition bringing no contribution in terms of creativity or personal interpretation to it.

Don’t hesitate to go through the selections made by great collectors and personnalities of the arts in our Interviews.


If you need some guidance, why not get in touch with our Art Advisory service ? Our art advisors will help you find the perfect work to suit your tastes and budget. 

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