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?