Collecting Art – A Matter of Perspective

Collecting fine art is all a matter of personal perspective. What appeals to one individual might not unnecessarily appeal to another. However, there are two promising schools of thought when collecting fine art: the first is, you should learn to buy what you love; the second is, you should learn to love what you buy.…

Collecting fine art is all a matter of personal perspective. What appeals to one individual might not unnecessarily appeal to another. However, there are two promising schools of thought when collecting fine art: the first is, you should learn to buy what you love; the second is, you should learn to love what you buy.

Since there is no right or wrong answer to this debate and it is just a matter of personal preference, my first reaction is to say, buy what you love. With all due respect, you do not buy a couch or a bedroom set because it is a good investment, you buy it because it makes you feel comfortable. Whether you sit on it, lay on it, or sleep on it, the chances are, when you walk through the door you do not ponder if you made a sound investment.

Well, fine art is no different. In essence, it is a piece of wall furniture. Nothing more. If it makes you feel good then that is what really matters; and, you made the right choice.

I have a very close friend who just spent about $ 30,000 on a beautiful oil painting from a contemporary artist because it reminded her of her father. She asked me, did I do the right thing? As I answered, yes , the second question out of her mouth was, will I ever get my money out of it? My answer was simple: will you ever get your money out of the living room set you bought? The conversation should have ended there, but it did not. She then asked, would you have done the same? My answer was honest and direct. No.

As for myself, I would have bought a masterwork: a Rembrandt etching; a Durer woodcut; a Picasso linocut; Egypt, a Chagall lithograph. Not just because of the return on investment, but because I love masterworks. For me, it has mostly been about possessing a piece of history.

In my mind, fine art, no matter how fine, is a piece of wall furniture: still glorious; beautiful; personal; and, comfortable. A masterwork, however, because of its place in history is a piece of wall property; and, to me, that is what makes masterworks so appealing.

Far be it from me to judge anyone's taste in fine art. I can not even follow the simple math when it comes to paint-by-numbers. But with so much importance put on the new millennium catch phrase ROI or Return on Investment, it is much to my benefit that collecting masterworks is my preference.

The expression, if you buy what you love then you can never go wrong , is absolutely true. Collecting fine art is a deeply personal decision. But, regardless of your fine art collecting habits, if you do not feel richer as the work of art hangs on your wall, then you have made the wrong decision.