ART WORLD Q & A: Edition 7


LivWill Art is fortunate to have Barcelona based contemporary art advisor and editor in chief of Contemporary Art Collectors, Vera Bertran, share her extensive knowledge of the current art market, what to look for when starting your own collection and why there is “no excuse for ignorance” in this market.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

Though the art market has changed tremendously over the last twenty years, here, I will note just a couple of the most significant points.

First and foremost, art has never been more accessible to the general public. With the invention of social media and its pervasive and increased usage, people have been able to discover and view art in a way they never have, before even stepping foot inside a gallery, art fair or museum. Secondly, there has been a notable growth in terms of art fairs and the importance attached to them. This, in conjunction with a growing interest in art in general, stemming from numerous collaborations that have occurred between the art and fashion worlds, as well as a rising interest in a variety of emerging artists – has inevitably lead to increased awareness in artists’ work and a rise in the number of online sales.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

I believe the artists that will stand the test of time are: Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas, Neo Rauch, Yayoi Kusama, Gerhard Richter, Julie Mehretu and Ed Ruscha. Their art is already sought after and highly valued, and having become eminent artists in their own right, their work will continue to remain in demand with prices likely to only increase over time.

3. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

The main differences are the artist’s importance, relevance, and standing in history.  Curatorial and critical value are obviously also important factors. Sometimes all of these factors align, but oftentimes they do not. For example, some art critics and historians find Jeff Koons’ art banal and overly commercial. Nevertheless, the prices for his works remain exorbitant and constantly reach new heights. Knowing that he is popular and his exhibitions will create interest or drive high attendance, curators and museums continue to invite him and exhibit his work.

4. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

Although taste will always be a very important factor in terms of investors adding to their collections, many nowadays will only acquire a piece of art they consider
an investment.

5. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

If I had $10k I would probably buy a Harland Miller limited edition print, or a Kimiyo Mishima ceramics, or a Richard Mosse photographic print.

For $100k, I would buy a painting by either Matthias Weischer, Luiz Zerbini, or David Schnell.

If I had $1M I would buy a painting by Marlene Dumas, Neo Rauch, Adrian Ghenie.  The price, naturally, also depends of the size of work, year it was produced, etc., so the answers I have given are slightly more generalised.

6. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

The advantages of buying at galleries are as follows:

One of the advantages is the direct sale from gallery to buyer. Another is that some galleries have fixed prices on works and some (not all) can offer a discounted price.  Contrastingly, auction houses have presale estimates, which means the price often will increase considerably during the bidding process.

Advantages of buying at auctions:

Auction houses have a big selection of artists from every genre and, therefore, also a large inventory database. There is also a public previewing of the artworks before the auction. Furthermore, auction houses always reveal prices before the auction begins, so it is possible to find the prices on their websites, as opposed to galleries’ websites where the prices remain hidden.

7. What is long-term market value largely dependent on? How relevant is long-term market value with the fluctuation of auction prices going up or down each season?

The art market model is based not only on supply and demand, but it is also a mix of history and prediction, in terms of the fact that artwork is bought and sold based on its past value as well as its predicted future price.

Fluctuations, therefore, are normal and can sometimes affect the market when the sale of one artist’s work impacts upon a similar or related artist. Long-term value is hypothetical, and thus particularly difficult to predict. We can assume that in 30-50 years time, modern artists such as, Picasso, Miro, Dali, etc., or the impressionists will have a more stable value in the market. But with contemporary artists it’s far more difficult to say, as they still need time to become consolidated in the art market.

8. What determines the commercial value of art?

The artist ́s price is determined by numerous factors: exhibition history, career level, sales records, etc. Fashion also plays a part in determining the value of art. Artists who are being talked about or exhibiting in well-known galleries, for example, with big coverage in media, are more likely to sell for a high price. In the current market, people are more interested in what’s new and in vogue. Basically, the upcoming artists who are going to become the next recognised set of eminent artists.

9. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

For both buyers and art collectors art fairs offer a “one-stop-shopping” experience.  At Mayor Art Fairs, for instance, you can get an overview of a global art market and find galleries from across the world under the same roof. Some of the participating galleries make up to 50-60 percent of their annual sales at these

10. What do you look for in the art you collect?

I look for works that visually or conceptually resonate or speak to me on a personal level.

11. What is the best advice you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

I would suggest seeing as much art as you can: either viewing it online, or by going to exhibitions, art fairs, etc. Ion addition I would also recommend reading about the piece you are interested in, as doing a little research can often go a long way. If you have a fixed budget to spend you can start with limited edition prints; there are also lots of amazing emerging artists and their works are not expensive. Also with good research you can find a work that fits your budget and can make an excellent return as an investment in future.

12. What do you look for in the art you collect?

My personal taste tends toward the abstract and non representational. I also like artists who have consciously rejected historical precedents and who embrace new materials or technologies.

13. What is the best advise you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

Find an expert and ask questions. Do your homework. There is no excuse for ignorance in this market.

About Vera Bertran

Vera Bertran is an art advisor based in Barcelona specializing in Contemporary Art. With experience in art advisory, events and marketing in Europe and the Middle East, Vera provides her clients with expert advice on building, growing valuing and managing their collections. Vera is also editor-in-chief of Contemporary Art Collectors, an online contemporary art magazine covering the visual arts. As one of the top online contemporary art magazines, Contemporary Art Collectors has established its name by curating the best contemporary art from all around the world.

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