What Art Buyers Want – artmarketblog.com

What Art Buyers Want – artmarketblog.com

artfairtokyo2007_1.jpgLooking back to the time of the great classical master painters it is quite obvious that the focus of the art market at that time was the actual finished product. Technical skill, realistic depiction and an appropriate subject were the order of the day for greats such as Da Vinci and Rembrandt who were originally considered to more akin to tradesman who were just doing the job that they were paid to do, the same as every other worker. Just like the trade apprentices of the modern world, Master artists of the classical age of painting often took on apprentices, the best of whom would be given the opportunity to actually assist the Master with important commissioned paintings. The fact that the artist’s clients weren’t really concerned if the painting they commissioned was worked on by people other than the Master artist is testament to the comparative lack of significance put on the actual artist and the creative process. Even more telling was the lack of control that the artist had over their work with the patron (client) who commissioned the artist to produce a work being in control of what the artist painted and how much would be spent on the materials and the artist’s time.

To look at the current contemporary art market compared to the classical art market is like looking at a parallel universe because of the shift in focus and the evolution of the role of the artist. The status of the artist in the contemporary art world has continued to increase to the point where the artist is often the focus and not the work they produce. Quite often the concept of the artwork and the creative process involved in coming up with the idea, and producing a physical representation of that idea, are of greater significance than the resulting object. In a way the artist and the object have become one with each being an extension of the other and vice versa. Because the artist has become such an integral part of the object, their way of life, personality, social life, beliefs, practices, behavior and approach have become important factors in determining the success of that artist.

I see so many galleries that just stick pictures on walls and expect people to want to buy and wonder why they don’t sell anything. Most contemporary art collectors and art buyers these days are not just expecting to purchase an artwork but are expecting to be purchasing a whole art world experience that essentially allows the buyer to experience the excitement and adventure of the career of a popular young contemporary artist vicariously through the artwork they have purchased. For a contemporary art gallery so be successful they need to allow their clients to experience the artists and their practices through workshops, studio visits, talks, demonstrations etc. I know that I am far more likely to purchase an artwork if I have had a prior interaction with the artist, how about you??

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

18 Responses

  1. I have almost ZERO likely hood to purchase anything if I haven’t at least read up on the artist themselves.

  2. Nicholas Forrest. YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT! your words could not be any truer! I am impressed with your keen eye to the art market.

    And would like to share with you my own personal anecdote – if I may.

    Me and my wife are both professional artists – we live the dream, work 18hr days, practice our art, and paint paint paint. But if it was not for our communications with our collectors – sharing our experiences with them, the ups and downs, the realities of our adventurous life, they would not be as avid supporters of our careers and BUY OUR ART.

    We have gone from semi-weekend artists to full time career artists without skipping a beat – and have only been able to do so because of the support of our collectors. and these collectors would not be around if it were not for our genuine and in depth interaction with them about our lifestyles and art career choices.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your review and invite you to read our blog – which is one of the places collectors get to learn more about immediate activities on our part.

    Have a great weekend!

  3. I am new to art, well paintings and drawings anyway. But have some experience in other arts of a non-visual nature. This is so very true! What is a painting, if we don’t know the context, if we don’t know the mind behind it and what person or mind lies behind every line that’s drawn….

  4. If an art gallery is doing it’s job properly, they will have sufficient informtaion on their exhibiting artists. This can be in the form of a bio written by the artist themselves, which can be freely read by clients. This should ideally contain any past achievments and especially contain statements about their work.

    The gallery owner and staff having a good rapport with the artists and good knowledge of their background is also essential, so that relevant and interesting information can be relayed about the artist and their work to the client.

    It is not really feasible for clients to visit studios, and demonstrations, because how many artists actually partake in talks and demonstrations and open their studios to visitors!!? Not many.

    That is essentially why there are galleries in the first place, to represent artists.

  5. I totally disagree with this view. It sounds like Big Brother to me. Where is the artist’s privacy in all this. It sounds like you want the artists to sell their very soul to a collector – this is B………t! I don’t want any Gallery nosing into my private affairs – sure they can visit my studio any time and I welcome their support and concern but as far as every buyer having to know when I eat, shit, breathe- who I sleep with, what I believe in – why should that be important? I you buy someone’s painting surely that is all you buy – you do not own the artist nor his life! How dare you even think that. What you are buying is simply an idea the artist had at the time which you happened to relate to or find interesting, stimulating, attractive, uplifting or whatever. That artist, if he is any good, is not going to have the same idea the next day – he will have a different painting. a different theme. If you want to own his life, then you should buy every single work he makes- that is ridiculous!
    Anyway, anyone who buys a painting should realise that you as a viewer must be prepared to put some work in yourself to get the most value from it. A good piece of Art asks questions of the viewer, to which you must respond. If you buy the work , you should undertake a dialogue with that work, not expect the artist to tell you how to think! . If people don’t understand art they simply should not buy it- the final result on the canvas is not the artist’s life – it is simply an opinion or idea that the artist had in that moment. Do you not go to a Brad Pitt movie because you don’t like Angelina, or because he had 2 wives and that is against your religion. Do you ask your drugstore owner what he believes in before you buy his product? Why should you worry then what the artist believes in before you buy his product??!!

    • I whole-heartetly agree with you “Viv”, the artist creates, and what he or she feels, or tries to convey in the work – is what the artist feels at the time – some of which may flow over to another who views the work -but ultimately the viewer sees what they will, and take from it what they will. they don’t and shouldnt need to be prodded in any direction to see what the artist saw, perhaps the title in itself may be sufficient to do that.
      the buyer shoudn’t need have a life story about the artist – privacy to some is important, and if an artist chooses to stay in the shadows, that should be respected, art should sell for what it is, and what the buyer takes from it, and not purchased due solely on information about the artist.
      I dislike the thought of buyers making a purchase as an “investment”… art is to be enjoyed, put on display, talked about and shared..
      business and investments! – have we forgotten how to simply enjoy? have we forgotten how purchase something simply because we Like it.

  6. ViV,
    I think you forgot that art got complex in 21 century, landscape and naked girls is very easy to understand but there is a lot of things that you may have to translate to poor buyer who may gave no education about art history, so you need to help him to eat you idea and understand the taste. Also there is all kind of buyers one who will like because they like your personaloty others may like you work and third does not care becayse they just want to invest in you poor name. Well I think you got an idea that you can create and sell things in many different ways.

    Nicholas has his open opinion about how he things would help artist and buyer to understand better each other. So no need to scream here just leave you opinion so we can see what is in your mind.

  7. I’m somewhat confused by everything you have just said Viv!!

    What point are you actually making?

  8. Hi, Look at the photos of my new emo haircut
    at http://tinyurl.com/59ps64

  9. I read the comments here and it made me think… As an artist, I have removed all privacy concerns from my life. Wanting the world to know and love my art – I first have to know and love myself – and if I know and love myself then what will I ever have to hide…? That is the theory, let’s see it in practice.

    Thanks for letting me rant. I love your site and I am on here everytime you post a new article. Keeo Rockin’ it.

    Spellbinding Foox.

    Badger Almanac

  10. There is a VERY RARE!! authentic canvas painted by Nikki Sixx bass player of Motley Crue and Sixx a.m. up for auction on eBay. It was painted at his house in Westlake Village, CA and is 1 of only 4or 5. All of them have a different message; very unique!! Original abstract acrylic painting. Stretched canvas. Description; “FEAR OF SILENCE” painted on front with abstract colors and three right hands prints. Signed by Nikki Sixx on lower right front and top left back. Painting was acquired through 106.9 FM KROC charity auction in Los Angeles, CA in 1992. Painting is very large 48in. x 48in. Excellent condition. No tears or fading.

    Anyone can buy one of his cd’s, signature picks, signed guitar or even a Harley but NEVER! will anyone own one his paintings except you!

    You can take a look at it on;


  11. haveI have a beautiful t|Tibetan and indian art Collection as well as my own many original beautiful indian work at my website (except from the indian Shiva print given to me by a monk). I have a large and personal and historical Milton Glaser collection, including a originals and a painting of me nude with a love letter along the side which could be be made as prints. I also have a 300 year old Ganesh carved in ivory decorated with pearls, rubies and emeralds. Women give incredible art, as history shown. I have a gallery and I will sell anything for
    t he right price as I am old and have enjoyed them so much. Also Burmese and Ivory carved jewelry. I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your “Invest in Women’s Art” article. Finders fee.

  12. there seems to be a real cookie cutter approach to the art market. I appreciate every person who buys my art. Selling art can sometimes be like giving away a part of yourself. So I want the buyer to really understand what I am putting out there

  13. I can appreciate all the comments. I believe that this article really applies to the growing art market online. We are a new online art company that supports the independent artists and helps communicate what they do and who they are. I think those who fail to grow online and fail to apply what’s said here to their online gallery/presence will unfortunately be unsuccessful. Wish you all the best!

  14. I’m an artist that has just recently started trying to sell my artwork. As I am trying to figure out how to go about it I am learning that who I am is an important role in sharing my art. Having a bio & an artist statement is slightly difficult for me. If I could paint or draw a picture that explains me I would but each person would take from it a different idea.Β 
    I understand wanting to know why or how someone does some thing because I do the same thing. Β I think knowing how to sharing who you are and not give to much information away is a balancing act. You want to be understood but not invaded.Β 
    what I paint is how I feel in that moment which may change over the time I spend on the piece. If a buyer wants to know why I painted something or who I am I have no problem telling them. It’s the artist choice of what & how much they share.

  15. Absolutely agree.

    Nicolas this article is remarkably mature concised and on point.


    John Reverol

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: