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Ask a Gallerist: Collecting Original Art


From The Downtowner October 2001

Had you attended the One Hundred Sixty-Fourth Annual Exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which opened on January 17th, 1969, you could have spent less than $500 and walked away with a Jasper Johns, a Will Barnet, a Rauschenberg, a Gropper or an Isabel Bishop, to mention a few.

“If only I had known,” you lament, especially when you see the prices that art works by these artists bring today. “But how did they know that the pieces would appreciate that much?” you might ask. The honest answer is that those buyers probably did not know. They trusted their instincts, bought what they loved and probably never thought of it in terms of “investment.”

'Looking at the North Sea' Christian Valentinusen (1903-1985}

'Perseus' Bronze, Miguel Angelo Silva

Just as a work of art communicates the thoughts and feelings of an artist, so does an art collection speak of what the collector deems beautiful, meaningful, or technically proficient.

Your possessions should reflect your personality and uniqueness in the same way that an artist’s creations express his. Both collector and artist express that intangible yet self-defining faculty known as taste.

No one buys taste; some people have it instinctively, but many people acquire it – not only by reading and by educating themselves, but also by training their eyes and their sensitivities. Taste – one of the most important assets of the art collector – you can develop gradually, by observing your own collection and other works of art you may encounter.

'Potatoes' Vincent Lavell

"Live Model, 1956" Geoge Imhoff (1911-1983)

The basic economic laws of supply and demand, changing styles and vogues, auction prices, subject matter, signatures, dates of execution, sales taxes, shipping, insurance and even tax deductions are some of the factors that govern the values, prices and trends in art.

Knowledge of these things is basic to confidence you need for comparative shopping and, eventually purchasing. In addition to the personal warmth and aesthetic satisfaction of collecting, you can benefit from the monetary values of art works. Like many commodities, they have resale value.

'Swirling Clouds and Islands' Eric Hopkins

"Unsigned" Deemed Degenerative Art and seized by the Nazi's

A number of years ago, I purchased a post-impressionist painting for $300, which I hung on a wall. Other than enjoying it on a daily basis, I gave the painting a little thought.

Then one day, reading an art publication, I discovered to my amazement that works by the artist had appreciated 150 percent a year, making my $300 purchase worth between $20,000 and $40,000, depending upon the gallery. Another $100 purchase that I had made was also now worth $12,000 to $15,000.

“Should I sell them and make a substantial profit?” I wondered. “And if I do sell them, will I have made a foolish move if they continue to appreciate at this rate? Or, what if the bottom falls out of the art market?” I took the coward’s way out and gave them away!

'Self Portrait',1938, Frances N. Streit (1918-1997)

FOR CENTURIES, we collectors have reaped the rewards and joys of the discovering and collecting unknown artists, new styles and techniques, or other innovations. We have gambled on the basis of predictions; we have tried to deduce the futures of artists we discover, forecasting who will eventually be “known” masters.

If, as we emphasize, you keep up with gallery showings, you will have a fairly good idea of who’s who on the current art scene. Once you know what is being shown, your tastes, predictions, and budget should be your guides, not just names that are already known.

One of the greatest satisfactions you can have as an art collector is to exhibit your own creativity by discovering an artist at just the right point in his career, immediately before his prices begin to rise. Such discoveries are always possible!

'Swami' Albert Wilking

Interest in art collecting has reached an all-time high and shows no indication of declining. Today a variety of art and a wide range of prices are available to you who are seeking to own original art. Excellent quality drawings, paintings, graphics, and sculptures by established artists, their disciples, and new artists are available through the Rhinehart-Fischer Gallery to fit everyone’s taste and budget.

There are no more capable art tutors than your own eyes and experiences!

'Janis Joplin' Papier Mache, Andy Warhol Studio, 1968

Art from the collection of Douglas Rhinehart.

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Copyright 2016 Thom Reaves

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