Investing in art: 10 good tips not to miss
Investing in art is a very profitable form to make some of your savings. It is true that there are several levels of volatility, but the performance is far from being discarded. For contemporary art, for example, you can reach peaks of 50%. Keeping feet on the ground, more or less recent studies indicate an average annual return ranging from 14% to 17%. With these numbers it's not hard to figure out how many people are launching on this market to diversify their investment portfolio.
The problem is that as it is true that you can get good earnings, it is just as true and it is much easier to make the wrong purchases and find yourself after a few years with something that virtually no longer has any value. This is especially the case when it comes to action without a real knowledge of the vast universe of art, a fascinating world, but that the market is guided by very few verifiable and certain rules.
You will probably also want to diversify your investment portfolio and point to a painting, sculpture or photo but you are afraid to make a mistake. Then there are ten tips that will help you choose an artist whose prices could re-evaluate over the years. I must first start from a brief but essential premise essential to contain as much as possible the controversy that comes to light each time we talk about this topic.
I also tell you from now on that in one article I will not be able to exhaust the argument, which has already been consumed by the feathers of dozens of journalists, critics or workmen. I will soon post other posts related to what you are about to read. But now let's start.
Art is one thing, another market
Just so, art and market are two distinct and separate entities even if closely linked and connected to each other. It's like talking about a sport, football for example, but two different games that play on two different fields for two different competitions. If we value the artistic value of a work, the style of an artist and its cultural importance, we are playing a game, if we analyze the economic value of a painting or sculpture, we are playing another.
Does this mean that art and market never meet? No, sometimes they also meet, but in most cases there is a strong breakthrough and the market behaves a bit like a crazy horse: it goes ahead of certain artists while leaving behind others and this behavior angers so many nostalgic lovers of old good and beautiful art.
Let's take some examples to be clearer. Who are the artists that most of all in recent years have been targeting sharp criticism and fulcrum of systematic controversy (often also consciously sought)? Certainly the main names, to name the most famous, are Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. The first was perhaps a forerunner in using (consciously and with a precise strategy) what is called personal branding in the art world. The second holds the record for the work of a paid-in-living living artist ($ 58 million).
Can a giant, metallic, consciously kitsch puppy cost more than a work by Gerhard Richter, to cite another living artist, or Salvador Dalì and Lucio Fontana, to name two names of historian artists? Yes, yes, always for the same reason: art is one thing, another market. I repeat it again because it must enter well in the head of those who want to approach this world without being faced with bad surprises. The market has its own rules and moves according to its own principles that sometimes have nothing to do with those of art history.
So if you are approaching art with the intention of making an investment, the rules of the market you should try to understand and follow, not the pleasure of the work, much less your personal taste. Obviously, among the many possible investments we can choose the artist who most touches our strings, but, as I have already written in a previous post, if you buy hoping for a future revaluation of the work you should never be driven by the emotion: enjoy art with your heart but buy it with your head.
How to invest in art: 10 tips to choose the right work
We finally get to the juice of this post. If you are approaching the art world with the intention of making a good investment here 10 questions that you would do well when you are in front of a work that fascinates you before deciding to get out your checkbook and hope to have a painting under his arm that will be re-evaluated in the future. Let's begin:
What is the gallery or merchant who follows and manages his work?
Well, yes, the first question has nothing to do with the artist any less than with his art. Does it seem strange to you? I remember that we are talking about the market and the market is the gallery artist, not the artist. As there are more powerful and influential lawyers than others, more powerful and influential politicians than others, bloggers, journalists, entrepreneurs, etc. more powerful and influential than others, so in the art world there are more powerful and influential gallerists than others. They are, together with other characters, moving system networks and sometimes they are so famous to become major brands of the same artists they run: Larry Gagosian, David Zwirner, Iwan Wirth to name a few.
Standing to the ground, without going to sleep some peaks, even at lower levels there are gallerists who do their job well and others who do it less well. Behind the high quotes of an artist, there is a long and expensive work, both in terms of time and money. Not everyone is able or have the skills, knowledge and contacts (essential to succeed in this world) to complete it. Remember that behind the Impressionists there was Paul Durand Ruel and behind Picasso and Cézanne there was a great merchant like Ambroise Vollard. So with the artist, and in some cases even before the artist, you choose the right merchant. In Italy, the strongest galleries are Massimo De Carlo, Giò Marconi, Lia Rumma, Massimo Minini and Franco Noero to name a few. There are then many other galleries less powerful but they do a great job and sell interesting artists.
In what exhibitions or museums have been or are exhibited his works?
Finally we talk about the artist or better yet his Curriculum.
Should you hire a collaborator as you would choose it? Obviously, taking a look at his past experiences and the companies he worked for. In the case of an artist the experiences are given by the prizes won, the exhibitions and especially the museums in which his works are exhibited.
At one time the artists reached this recognition at the end of their career.
Today things have changed and artists often enter the museums much earlier and gain economic recognition as young people. Having a work inside a museum, as well as being an official acknowledgment, exposes the artist's name to the eyes of the world and makes it more desirable.
Tip: Look for artists in the museums but at affordable prices and beware of those who already have star figures but that museums just go paying the ticket
Who collects it
Once there were popes, noble and aristocratic. Today, there are industry captains, bankers and entrepreneurs. The roles change, the ways change, but the music does not change. Joining some of the collections is a guarantee of success. Think of the artists of Young British Art collected by the magnate of Charles Saatchi advertising and today have reached dizzying figures. Other important collections are Rubell's and Rosa's and Carlos De la Cruz's in America, while in Italy the Miuccia Prada Collection, Giuliano Gori's and the Count of Panza Biumo's.
What role does it have in the history of art?
Within the vast world of art history, there are important artists, some indispensable and others who have not left the mark. If we were to erase Cézanne, we would not understand Picasso and Picasso any more would collapse the castle of the history of 20th-century art. The same goes for Lucio Fontana, Andy Warhol and many others. The market often does not go hand in hand with the history of art and, above all, we are closer to today, there are important and already historized artists who still have prices that can be reached.
At this time post-war artists (Vedova, Afro, Manzoni, Fontana, Castellani) have already received unrealistic ratings for the most and is in the process of rediscovery of kinetic and analytical artists. Once they arrive at certain peaks, the market will move to the movements of the next few decades. For example, in the 1990's, artists like Alessandro Pessoli, Marco Cingolani and Stefano Arienti have been working on, whose prices have not yet reached those of peer Maurizio Cattelan.
The thing that should be done is to anticipate the times and buy the artists before they are fashionable and embedded in the market: in order to do this however, you must start familiarizing with languages we are not yet accustomed to and which can often result difficult to understand. He has collected his works in a general catalog
For an artist to have the general catalog is a guarantee of security. He needs to make order in his production, to certify which works are true and to give a message of seriousness that then moves to the market. One of the things that has exploded Alighiero Boetti's market a few years ago was the publication of the reasoned catalog of his works
Are your work immediately recognizable?
Having a unique and unmistakable style definitely brings value to the work of an artist, especially when it also means using a new language or saying things that no one has ever said. Artists with their own styles are those that become more easily icons and therefore more desirable by the big collectors. A work by Andy Warhol, as one by Francis Bacon, as one by Lucio Fontana, as one of Luigi Ontani and so on. you can recognize it miles away. Having a work hanging in a lounge is a prestige for those who own it.
Do your works run within a local, national or international marketplace?
Here too it is useless to spend too many words, it is a law of the economy: the more the demand increases, the more the prices increase. It is intuitive and automatic that an artist sold in the world has more demand than another sold only by the gallery of the country.
What am I to buy is a work of a significant period?
Almost all artists have had lifelong periods of great creative ferment alongside less productive periods. Usually the production cycle of an artist is divided from a phase in which "invents" a new language, followed by a second stage in which the novelty is affirmed and thus ends up being a novelty. Finally, the stage in which the artist, now affirmed, will come to the tired repetition of a now successful scheme. Obviously, the first phase is the one most sought after and paid by the market.
Not all Picasso cost millions of euros. Those of the Pink Period, the Blue Period, or the Cubist works are those that reach scary prices. The last few Picasso will not even approach the crazy record artist of the artist. Just as a De Chirico Square of the 1950s will not cost as one of the first decade of the twentieth century or a Castellani of the 2000s will not cost as one of the 60s.
Beware though, because not all artists have the best period of time for the youth, there are painters who have reached the maximum of age or other expression, so that the year of creation of a work does not make a difference but it only counts quality.
How is the quality of the work I'm going to buy?
The quality exactly. I think it's clear that an artist does not just paint masterpieces. We all have no days, where nothing goes out as we would like and others where everything seems easy. For an artist is the same: there are days where he paints masterpieces, others in which the paintings are unsuccessful, others where he has no inspiration and is forced to create works just to satisfy the market and other days still where the result of his work is what the environment calls with the synonym of "crust".
Unlike the bag and the stock, art is made of quality, not quantity. In the steel, steel is always steel, wheat is always grain, aluminum is always aluminum. A Picasso is not always a Picasso (with the "P" I mean). Obviously masterpieces cost more than other works, but are also the ones that re-evaluate better in time and that it will be harder to sell when you want to monetize your investment. In the world of art it is sometimes better to remember the proverb: "Whoever spends less spends."
Which critic has been involved in his work?
This last rule was undecided whether to insert it or not. At one time, a critic's voice could have thrown an artist's career and quotes into the stars. Today, even a major criticism does not substantially change anything from the point of view of quotations. There is a new figure that some more influence has on him and that of the curator. In recent years, the choices made by some important museum institutions with regard to exhibitions and exhibitions often coincide with the names that make excellent results on auction.
When art is investment
Now you are ready to buy your first work and invest in art. Obviously, an artist does not have to meet all of the requirements listed above to be an investment, especially if we are talking about a young artist. These just want to be the guidelines but the talk obviously does not run out here, there are so many variables that affect the quotes of an artist especially in a market where there is little clarity and transparency.