The Dual Values of Art

 Personal Versus Monetary: A Collector’s Dilemma.

When we talk about fine art, there are several indisputable points of criticism usually taken into consideration before purchasing a work. An experienced collector who makes his rounds regularly may often suggest a few “blue chip” names in the art circle: artists that are supposedly the rising stars in international or local social attention; the cream of the crop if one could say so.

Collecting art has its benefits I do believe. My family has been collecting art since the days of the 13 Moderns. We met great pioneers and have collected such lucid works like the puzzle-contoured abstractions of H.R. Ocampo, and the passionate displays of striking color by Jose Joya. From my grandfather, to myself- collecting has been a side hobby perceived in two ways of value; for investment and for personal taste. Both of these two end-values lead to a greater value that I believe most people want to find in art: happiness.

Let me begin by creating a situation I’d like to introduce to you. In this scene, your friend is an esteemed and well-respected gallery curator. He recommends that you purchase works three years in advance from Artist A (which means due to demand, you’d have to wait three years for the piece after a down-payment). You however, have your eyes set on sculptures created by artist B from the neighboring gallery. Your friend gives you inside information that Singaporean auctions reflect highly of artist A and as a newcomer to the world of art, you take the information and hold onto it. You are simply ecstatic to find this “blue chip” opportunity, however in truth you would much rather buy the works of artist B given the same financial value. Artist B just has your taste in the bag to begin with. This common situation can be observed in a lot of places around the art community. Information is the key to monetary success in art investment. Auctions aren’t the only thing out there though. There are other ways of deciphering a good artist’s name, like an artist’s projects with international organizations, his awards and mentions, schools that supported him, ongoing and past exhibits… and so on so forth. You’ll find ways to know which artworks can be in category with this way of thinking, because they are the ones always exhibited at the galleries and always present in communities online and offline. A good test would be to search his name on Google and check up on his background as an artist. The internet is a very useful tool for collectors in modern society.

Treating art like a stock market has its benefits, but is this what the craft is really all about? Is it all for money? I believe not.

This day and age reflects on a fiscal view towards art and design. Society creates a market value much similar to the trading companies or investment corporations that have nothing to do with art. I’m not saying that researching on blue chip art is bad- on the contrary, it’s good. Investment is always a good thing and this case is not an exception, but would you buy a half torn canvas with a smudged up glob of black oil and a roughly carved silhouette of a dead tree to hang in your living room wall? Maybe you would if you were a certain type of collector, but not all of us prefer that specific style of aesthetic value. It’s not always about prices and investments. There is such a thing as personal value as well, and it pays off even greater than the previous kind. Art that soothes the mind can be different from person to person. It boasts therapeutic claims, confidence creation and a good feeling of fulfillment. A better way to put it would be being able to eat your favorite food in a city of mild-mannered restaurants.

So what kind of art are you looking for anyway? You could be one of those business-minded people who spot out the formidably growing names in art society. You could also be one of those down-to-earth people who just love what they love and don’t mind much about what others think.

-But I’ll tell you something as both an artist and a collector.

You can find both. ☺ Don’t settle for just one of those values. Go for something that is lasting and worth your hard-earned money, but also gives you a sense of personal fulfillment as a collector. Believe in your taste and use your head to justify it. Sure you may not find that specific combination of traits right away, but the world is a big place. Art that special can only hide from you for very long. If you want to find something valuable to you and valuable to society then you have to search hard, but you’ve always got to keep in mind that what you buy must satisfy the two criteria I talked about above. Never feel like succumbing to a blue-chip society just because someone else says so. Find something of value, but find it within the reach of what you want and what you perceive as fine art.

The fact of the matter is that the truest form of art- is human perception.


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