‘Art collector’ is a term that holds a certain enigmatic quality. A title that brings to mind an image of an older, cultured individual, in possession of more time and money than the average person. However, it needn’t be so shrouded in ambiguity and is more accessible than one might initially believe. We spoke to Alyssa Rehs, of Rehs Galleries, in a bid to shed some light on this unique pastime.
Where to start
Going to art fairs and exhibitions openings are prime opportunities to test the water. They allow you to get a feel for the styles that appeal to you and meet people who can share their own experiences. For someone looking to start their collection, Alyssa’s top advice is to “First immerse yourself in the art world. Go to the art shows, sign up for gallery updates and follow your favorite galleries on social media.”
“First immerse yourself in the art world. Go to the art shows, sign up for gallery updates and follow your favorite galleries on social media.”
Find a gallery you relate easily with and who is eager to share their knowledge. As a fourth generation gallery, Rehs prides itself on its ability to relate to a broad client base and on representing a wide roster of artists. They know the art market can initially be a little daunting. To assist in educating even the most novice would-be-art-collectors, they pen a monthly newsletter offering accessible information. With over 197 volumes, it’s a solid starting point.
What to Look for
A common conception of art collecting is that it’s pursued as an investment – with the primary intention of reselling and making a profit in the future. While the thought of having bought an upcoming artists work only to find it has increased 10 fold in value years down track undoubtedly has strong appeal, Alyssa believes artwork should be bought foremost because you love it. Choose work that speaks to you and that you could see yourself living with for years to come.
Choose work that speaks to you and that you could see yourself living with for years to come.
One way that art collecting has changed with modern times is the ability to buy online – if you prefer to go down this route Alyssa has a few tips. “A trusted and reputable gallery should have an honest report on the web about the work. They can provide you with an accurate condition report (on an older work) which will be easy to understand and have high-resolution images and details if there are any damages, craquelure, paint loss, restoration, etc.” For contemporary artwork, “There should be no condition issues and the images the gallery displays should be clear (in focus) and color corrected.”
Offering works from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, Rehs’ client base is as diverse as their roster of artists. They’re finding art collecting is growing in popularity with younger audiences (39 and under) as the internet provides easily accessible information and resources. Artwork ranging from $250 to eight figures, allows something for everyone. Alyssa notes that working with a client can take a few minutes or it might take months to find the perfect piece. “Our goal is to is to turn a potential client relationship into a friendship – becoming trusted advisors.