5 Questions (On Materials) Every Art Collector Should Ask Before Buying an Artwork

ByMary E. Alvarez

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When beginning or expanding an art collection, there are some essential concerns each individual collector typically asks in get to get the extra facts as doable and make the best decision. However, there are some facets that are usually remaining driving. Allow see some essential issues you have overlooked.

Who is the artist? Is him / her alive? What interval does the piece belong to? Do it have a certification of authenticity? Did it belong to yet another artwork collector prior to? Is it primary? Really should I commit in any unique artist? Thousands of doubts could come to head just before picking a get the job done of artwork for our selection, but do you have thought of to ask the following queries?

1. With what materials is the do the job created up?

This question is elementary since will proved you with further more data on the conservation, security and upkeep of your perform. Buying a portray from the 19th century is not the exact same as shopping for a piece of videoart from 1960 or an installation produced up of hundreds of objects found on a road in a metropolis all-around the environment. However, we will have to be very mindful in the details the dealer or gallery supply to us. It isn’t more than enough to know that a painting makes use of oil, acrylic, plastic objects or led lights. What is actually vital is to know two things: to what extent are the components of the work crucial to its indicating and its originality?  This concern will become a lot more significant when it will come, higher than all, to will work of contemporary artwork. So, make guaranteed to often ask it.

2.  What is the lifetime of the products that make up the get the job done? Are they perishable? Can they become out of date?

Some performs of art are built with perishable or technological resources whose life time is limited. By realizing this you will be in a position to know more about the care you ought to have, but also what are the best conservation conditions to guarantee that your operate does not endure any considerable damage.


Piero Manzoni, Merda d’Artista (Artist’s Shit), 1961

3.  What really should I do if a single of the materials or objects in my piece has broken down, been shed or damaged?  

When you obtain a piece of artwork, artists and sellers normally offers a report as instructive to know how to cope with, exhibit or protect the do the job in the finest way. In this circumstance, request for a list of “complex” elements the perform may perhaps have and how they can be mounted or replaced if the material is dead or the engineering applied is presently obsolete

4.  Can I change any of the materials or objects in my piece (set up, sculpture, collage, artwork-item)?  

The very first response that may well arrive to head is a definite NO. The composition, framework and materiality of functions of art constitute section of their originality and discourse, which is why lots of artists will prohibit you from creating any modifications to the original piece. Nonetheless, lets envision that you acquired a piece that capabilities with a discontinued Television on the sector or that can no lengthier be fixed. What do we do about it? You have to recognize in which scenarios is essential to talk to this concern according to the get the job done you are acquiring.


Tracey Emin, My Mattress, 1998.

5.  What if one of the critical resources or components for the piece and its perform is no extended offered?

This problem is requested even by the greatest art conservators and restorers in the entire world, primarily when the creator of the do the job is not alive. Even though it is a incredibly complicated query to answer, by asking it you will be ready to know which experts or authorities you need to go to in order to know how to continue. In this situation, surely the work will have to endure theoretical, conceptual, substance assessment, etc., to ascertain how the dilemma can be solved.

Excess: How can I preserve my do the job and its elements in the most effective circumstances?

This query is the matter of a further subject matter, but without a question it can choose you to the upcoming phase: delve into the opportunities of conservation of modern day artworks

Jimmie Durham: Nevertheless Everyday living with Spirit and Xitle, 2007,



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