Falling in love with Art takes a moment and learning, collecting and maintaining it takes a lifetime. For me that moment was my first visit to National Gallery in London when I in my naïve exuberance at having discovered such beauty that I ran from one room to another, absorbing as much as I could. In retrospect, I believe that was the day when I felt Turner’s torrid storms that my desire to buy Art set in. Of course it was only years later that my intellectual engagement with Art would begin and a little later my own journey into collecting Art.
My journey as an Art Collector has only just begun. It began three years ago with me entering the professional Art world and feeling the itch to collect for the first time.
Being unsure of where to begin, I began with the most basic resource tool: Google. It throws up about 2,62,00,000 results in 0.80 seconds on searching “Collecting Art+India”. The Art Market today is more effervescent than ever and being specifically interested in Contemporary Art the choices available are aplenty. If there ever was a time to kickstart an art collection it is now. And fortunately contrary to popular belief you don’t need big bucks to do that. Acquiring an artwork is a passion and can be started small. I plodded through a lot of literature when I first began. So I am putting together a short list compiling all that research, combining a bit of my personal experience as a collector for all those who have been dreaming of collecting and buying.
1. What are you buying? Presumably if you have read till here you have a latent desire to collect art and if not hopefully this post could convince you some. The first step is basically trying to figure out what kind of art do you like. Buy something that you can live with for the rest of your life. The point is to chose intelligently (something I like) and effectively (start thinking of your collection as a whole.)
2. Why are you buying? This is where you figure out if you are buying Art for passion or for investment. This will also help you set a budget. For me I know I want to collect an artwork when I am sure that I want to experience it everyday. As a beginner, I try and buy works between Rs 50,000 to 2,50,000 and in this range I am able to buy quality works, mostly small, by emerging artists. If I were collecting for the sake of investments, then I would expand my budgets and go for a more established name. For purposes of investment you will also have to keep in mind other factors like authenticity, provenance, artist’s stability etc.
3. Where are you buying? In our country and in Delhi especially, private the galleries dominate the art market. I would recommend keeping up with their latest shows and artists and using online resources like Artsy, Artnet etc to learn about pricing. Research is vital. When it comes to purchasing, galleries add credibility to your transaction especially when it comes to younger artists. For more established artists going through a reputed gallery helps you in determining the provenance and the authenticity of the work. Various seasoned art collectors suggest that you should look in odd places for art. It maybe my newness to the field but remaining cautious of whom you buy from doesn’t seem a bad choice.
4. What to look out for? Before you take the plunge make sure you do your bit of the research which includes educating yourself in Art. There are various online tools you can start with, one of them being Artsome. Visiting galleries and museum is great too and India Art Fair is a fabulous place to update yourself with all the new art and artists. Don’t be afraid to ask questions from gallerists, curators or artists whose works you wish to buy. Speak to the artist about the upkeep of the work. This will enrich the process for you, help remove doubt if any. Another thing to keep in mind is to ensure you receive the authenticity certificates as they will come in handy if you so later decide to go for a resale.
Just be sure that you enjoy each and every aspect of building a collection. Ultimately it is your love for the works you have bought that will make your collection shine.
As for me these are a few artworks that are always on my wishlist. Hoping to get me hands on a couple soon!
Thukral and Tagra’s Dominus Aeris Escape 6
Thukral and Tagra, Dominus Aeris Escape 6 (detail), 2013, Oil on canvas, 110 x 86”
Anita Dube’s No Beast
Anita Dube, No Beast, 2011, velvet, steel wire, animal horn and fiberglass, dimensions variable.
Atul Bhalla’s Mumbai Walk
Atul Bhalla,Mumbai Walk, 2007, archival pigment print, 40 x 91”.
Anjolie Ela Menon’s Zharoka
Kartik Sood’s The Black Black Sea
Kartik Sood,The Black Black Sea,2010,oil on canvas mounted in artist’s custom frame, 32″ x 26″.
B Manjunath Kamath’s Collective Nouns
B Manjunath Kamath, Collective Nouns (Diptych), 2010, acrylic, cement and oil on canvas, 72 x 144”
Waswo X Waswo’s The Dry Lake
Imran Qureshi’s This leprous brightness
Imran Qureshi, This leprous brightness, 2015, acrylic paint and gold leaf on canvas, 36 x 84”