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Books on Art Collection

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Interested in learning more about collecting art (paintings, sculptures, etc.). Consider me a novice, as such can anyone recommend a few books so that I may swiftly and elegantly scale the learning curve?
post #2 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morris
Interested in learning more about collecting art (paintings, sculptures, etc.). Consider me a novice, as such can anyone recommend a few books so that I may swiftly and elegantly scale the learning curve?
Gardner's "Art Through the Ages" gives you a good grounding and a common reference with dealers and other collectors, as it's the basic first-year Art History coursebook on Western Art more or less anywhere in the world. It's very general knowledge, but indispensible. Generally, I'd skim through much of the first-year Art History curriculums - these are generally available from any college. Don't shy away from reading textbooks - Art History ones are generally well-written, easily read and very nicely illustrated. Then I'd go for more specialised books and articles on particular artists, schools and periods you appreciate. Auction catalogues are very good for prices and technical descriptions, when you feel ready for buying. The most common mistake made by collectors is not waiting long enough before starting to buy, I think. Many people say that you should acquire knowledge up until the point where you can't stand it, and you just have to buy something. Many collectors are stuck with ill-considered purchases from early in their collecting career, which they have to sell off at a loss, or just hide away. On the other hand, of course, it's important to handle objects physically to really be able to appreciate and learn about them. The general advice is to visit museums, auction salerooms and dealers - auction houses and dealers will generally let you handle and inquire about the objects endlessly, if there's even a faint future hope of seeing you again as a buyer. Museums will normally not, of course, but they do have the best objects available for scrutiny. This is all very general, though - any particular field you're interested in?
post #3 of 17
I don't know anything about art, or art collecting, but I did enjoy Umberto Eco's History of Beauty. The book talks about the changing perception of beauty (through art) over time. Come to think of it, it might be more of a philosophical work than an art book. Still very interesting. You can read about it here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/084...63353?n=283155

Sara
post #4 of 17
my only suggestion is that one should only buy that which s/he loves and would display on his/her own walls

buying art as an investment to sell in the future to try to make a profit is ill advised for a first time collector, let alone established collectors
post #5 of 17
Forgot to mention this. Two of my professors in school created the "Fine Art Index" which tracked art sales from the major auction houses. I think it outperformed the S&P most of the time. Kinda takes the soul out of art collecting though, huh?

Sara
post #6 of 17
designprofessor is an art history teacher. Send him a PM. Art is a fun thing to study, and reading about art and artists enhances any visit to a museum. As a simple example, reading a bio on VanGogh would enhance any visit to the museum in Amsterdam (you can appreciate his madness when you see his paintings in real life). After looking at his stuff, I was glad I did not have a high-powered rifle with me, but I did spot a tall clock tower Ahem... I've collected a few nice pieces over the decades: one Renoir sketch, two oils by Penniquick, small portrait of a woman by Jacques Louis David, small painting of cherubims by Francois Boucher, and some other more contemporary pieces. For starters just go to the library and look at a few primer type books, then check out what you like. BTW, museums are good places to pick up women. Good topic! Cheers, M8
post #7 of 17
That sounds like a few nice pieces, Martini.

Janson is considered one of the icons of Art History texts.
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by hermes
my only suggestion is that one should only buy that which s/he loves and would display on his/her own walls
The point is true, but the learning curve can be pretty steep when you start collecting, and you can easily make expensive mistakes on the "wtf was I thinking" level. It's not that different from buying good clothes: learn about them as thoroughly as you can bear to, before plunging for the first good piece. Another mistake I also see a lot of collectors doing is buying the mediocre pieces they can just afford at the moment, instead of waiting for the opportunity (and perhaps means) to buy real quality. Compare it to buying ten pairs of Kenneth Cole platypus-inspired shoes when you first start building a wardrobe - which would also be a collection of sorts, of course - instead of buying say, three pairs of top-notch bench-made shoes. Any sort of quality, authenticity and integrity in the things that surround you improves your quality of life to some degree, if your eyes are open to them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hermes
buying art as an investment to sell in the future to try to make a profit is ill advised for a first time collector, let alone established collectors
The investment bit is an unavoidable factor, I’m afraid; art is a commodity. Few people can afford to buy quality works of art without also considering them as investments. Typically, the pieces M@8 mentions are by some top-notch names, and as such, should also be pretty safe bets in terms of investment, as well as very enjoyable works of art.
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by LabelKing
That sounds like a few nice pieces, Martini. Janson is considered one of the icons of Art History texts.
Ah, yes - it's either Gardner or Janson in most curriculums. Quite similar books in approach.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by LabelKing
That sounds like a few nice pieces, Martini...

It was still easy to find "junk" in the US, Europe, Latin America, SE Asia in the 60's and 70's. My mother had an eye for "junk". Now it's damned near impossible, except for some places in Eastern Europe, FSU, and China. I have been looking in Lusophone Africa lately, but have not spotted anything that really caught my eye as of yet.

M8
post #11 of 17
Good suggestions so far. I have a couple of ideas. The art history texts are good to inform but alot of times going into the past is expensive due to rarity. If you are not opposed to more contempoary art, there is NEW American Painting which publishes and has a web site, you can get some great stuff by emerging artists for under 5k. Hit the shows and web sites. From my experience, as a painter and running a gallery, artists are more than willing to work with you personally, if it does not interfere with or jeopardize the business relationship they have with their gallery. Assuming they have one.

If you get serious about historical /auction works. Do your homework and check your provenance /autheticity. Art fraud is huge and even the best museums have fakes in their holdings.
post #12 of 17
My Love Affair with Modern Art by Katherine Kuh gets good reviews.
post #13 of 17
you are correct, lucky strike, in regard to your comment on art is an investment

i wrote my comment poorly
what i was trying to say is that don't buy something just to look at it like a share on the stockmarket that you're going to try to sell in five years to guarantee a certain return ..... i've seen several people who know nothing about art, don't care about art but who invest in a piece of art so they can try to see it in a few years to make a buck, very speculative in my book, and all have failed
post #14 of 17
What sort of art are you interested in? The area of your interest will determine the price of entry and the availability of art for you to collect.
Hopefully, you aren't focused on French impressionistic masterworks. (or if you are, then hopefully you have very deep pockets.)

I am lucky enough that I am interested in genres of art (illustration art, and fantasy art) that have for many years been scorned by "serious" collectors. What this means is that I can afford to purchase the very best works from the most talented artists in the field.

My advice is to focus on the art, not the name of the artist. I have purchased several pieces over the years because they were created by an artist I liked, even though the particular pieces were not particularly appealing to me. Ultimately, these pieces brought me little joy and I ended up selling them. Hold out for the best pieces by your favorite artists. These are the ones that you will enjoy forever. Also, don't be afraid to commission works. I have commissioned a number of pieces, and they are among my favorites in my collection.
More advice: I've often been told by an artist that a certain piece is "not for sale." My experience has been that everything is for sale, and that artists often hoard their best works for themselves. It usually just takes more money to pry these "not for sale" works loose from the artist. It is usually worth it, as these are typically their very best pieces.
post #15 of 17
read Gombrich - something like history of art, that is an excellent introduction to art history and easthetics.
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