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Artist Jeahyo Lee

Suspended Stones

Amazing Street Art

This stuff just Blows My Mind

Art and LIfe Together

THis is a remarkable photo of a man and his  "Friend"  Shooting the Wild

Remarkable Pencil Art

Looking into the Black Hole of the Human Eye

Commissioning a Piece of Art

To commission a work of art means to contract an artist to create something unique just for you. Perhaps you've fallen in love with an artist's style but none of the available pieces are the right size. Maybe you want a specific subject depicted or have particular colors in mind. It could be that you envision a mural on a wall of your new home. By commissioning a work of art, you get, or should get, exactly what you want, right? Yes, but within reason. Remember, you are not the artist.
The Collector's Role - Communicating Your Vision

To begin, let's assume you've found the artist whose style resonates with you and the artist's work is within your budget. The first and most important thing you can do is to determine if the artist is truly comfortable working on commission. There are certainly many advantages to the artist, the most obvious being that the work is pre-sold. The reality is not all artists are equally amenable to working with specific criteria or requirements when it comes to subject, composition, or palette. A good idea is to ascertain if the artist has done work on commission before and is open to (some) direction.

The key to a successful collaboration is communication with the artist or artist representative. As the collector, it is important that you and the artist reach a clear understanding of what you want. Are you able to communicate your vision clearly? How much input is the artist willing to accept?

Commissioning a work of art does not entitle you to "micro-manage" the creation of the piece. If you are clear about the subject matter you would like depicted, can convey what you like about the artist's style and what palette you were attracted to in the artist's other works, you've done your job. At some point you have to let go and let the artist's vision take over. Becoming too involved in the process will hamstring the artist's creativity and yield disappointing results. If you are the "controlling" type, commissioning a work of art may not be for you.

I know of one artist who will do commissions only on the condition that the client is not obligated to take the piece. The artist feels this allows him the freedom to interpret the client's vision in his style and as suits his aesthetic, which the artist refuses to compromise. He finds the pressure of working on commission too great if he is subject to reworking the piece endlessly to meet the client's specifications. If the client chooses not to buy, the artist figures he'll sell the piece to someone else. Interestingly, I don't think the artist has ever had a client refuse a painting.

Stages of the Process and Structuring Payment

Like any other custom work, if you commission a piece of art you can expect to pay more, usually 20% above the price of an existing piece of comparable size and quality by the artist.

Be prepared to pay one-third to one-half of the total fee as a deposit. This lets the artist know you are serious and also helps with start-up expenses. In the case of the painter that means canvas, paints, brushes and stretcher bars. For the sculptor, costs for materials are even greater, i.e., stone, wax, clay, mold-making and foundry costs.

To avoid risks and misunderstanding on both sides, the terms of your agreement should be put in writing. This does not have to be a formal document, but should specify payment structure and the approximate time frame for completion of the work (though quality is more important than a deadline), as well as specifics about medium and size.

When arranging a commission piece between an artist and collector, I have found structuring the transaction as follows works well:

1. Ideas are exchanged between the artist or artist representative and collector. The scope of the assignment is agreed upon verbally and then put into writing;
2. A minimum deposit of one-third of the total fee is paid to the artist. The artist submits a loose sketch of his or her idea for the piece to the client for approval. Upon acceptance of the composition, the client pays the second third. An alternative preferred by most artists and collectors is to have trust in each other and structure a less complicated half down, half upon completion/acceptance type arrangement;
3. If you live in close proximity to the artist and can pick up the piece in person, the balance due should be paid when you take possession. If the art is to be sent to you, the artist should send or email you a photo of the completed work. If you approve, then you should send a check for the balance due the artist plus shipping costs at that time. (Sadly, many artists have been "burned" by sending the art before receiving final payment.) An alternative is for the artist to send the work C.O.D.

Commissioning a work of art can be an exciting and rewarding experience. I've found that most people who have done so are glad they did. If you are attracted to an artist's work, chances are you will be on the same wavelength—the artist will understand your wishes and you will trust the artist to interpret them. Everybody wins.

Dogs Can Be Artists Too!

A great Shot of two dogs who clearly like each other.  What a great shot

Art Forgeries of the 20th Century

From ArtDaily

An exhibition exploring the techniques and psychology behind the works of some of the world’s most famous forgers opened January 21 at the Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World profiles five prolific forgers from the 20th century to the present day and sheds light onto the ways their infamous legacies beguiled the art world. Among the more than 55 works on display, Intent to Deceive features more than 15 original works by major artists, including Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso and Paul Signac, among others, interspersed with the fakes and forgeries painted in the styles of these masters. International Arts & Artists, a nonprofit arts service organization in Washington, D.C., partnered with independent curator Colette Loll, an art fraud expert, to organize Intent to Deceive and its tour. After premiering at the Springfield Museums in Massachusetts, Intent to Deceive will travel to The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida; Canton Museum of Art in Canton, Ohio; and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in Oklahoma. Unable to establish careers based on the acceptability of their own artistic styles, the forgers profiled in Intent to Deceive—Han van Meegeren, Elmyr de Hory, Eric Hebborn, John Myatt, and Mark Landis—found fakery the exact duplication of an original work of art, and forgery, the creation and selling of a work of art which is falsely credited to another, the most accessible avenues toward recognition and commercial success. This exhibition explores how each forger was ultimately exposed and illustrates the role technology plays in detecting forgeries by aiding art professionals in identifying authenticity. Intent to Deceive examines the advances in various forensic testing that are assisting art professionals in battling this pervasive art crime. Intent to Deceive is organized chronologically and divided into six sections: one section for each of the five forgers and a final section that offers visitors the opportunity to test their own perceptions of authenticity by comparing original works by masters of art with the counterfeit works by the profiled forgers. Included in each forger’s profile are his original works, personal effects and ephemera, photographs, film clips, and representations of the material and techniques used to create the convincing artworks. An interactive, online catalogue accompanies the exhibition which includes scholarly essays by experts in the field, such as art historian and critic, Dr. Tom Flynn; curator of Old Master Paintings at Museum Boijmans Van Beunigen, Friso Lammertse; expert of art market history and professor of Arts Management at SUNY Purchase College, Dr. Jeffery Taylor; and The New Yorker expose on Mark Landis by Alec Wilkinson, as well as a gallery of all the works presented in the exhibition. Colette Loll is founder and director of Art Fraud Insights, a consultancy specializing in art fraud related lectures, training, and investigation of artworks. Ms. Loll has been involved in several independent projects related to the topic of fine art forgery and art forensics, and trains agents in forgery investigations for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cultural Heritage Protection Program. Ms. Loll has lectured widely in Europe and the U.S, including at the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC), University of Budapest (Hungary), Musée d’Art Moderne de la ville de Paris (Paris, France), Interpol Headquarters (Lyon, France) and the Salgrave Club (Washington, DC). International Arts & Artists in Washington, DC, is a non-profit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally, through exhibitions, programs and services to artists, arts institutions and the public.

Displaying Your Art Part Two

Hanging Your Art

I have a friend who is very short, under five feet in fact, and all the art in her home is hung very low, just about my chest height. While it's uncomfortable for me to look at (hunched over, head lowered), it's at her eye level and she likes it that way. I can understand. It's her home and she's had a lifetime of looking up at things.

Then there's art that's hung too high. A Thai restaurant in our town has some delightful art from Thailand on its walls. The problem is, the art is hung so high, near the ceiling in fact, that you can't take in the details. For most people the work is too fine and intricate to be viewed at such an angle and distance, unless they are in the NBA.

In both of these situations, the art did not seem to be hung to the best advantage and interfered with my viewing pleasure. When hanging art in your home, ask yourself, who do I want to enjoy this work? Is it for me only or do I want others to enjoy it too? What is your ceiling height? What is the scale of the furniture in the room? 

The general rule of thumb is to hang your art at eye level. Of course, since people vary in height, this leaves a lot of room for interpretation. 

When you hang art, it's best to have at least two pairs of hands and eyes available to accomplish the task, one person to hold the art and move it around, one to see what wall placement works best. Then trade off. Share opinions. Always mark your final decision with a pencil. The old adage, "measure twice, cut once" applies here with a slight variation, "measure twice, nail once." You don't want to end up with a lot of unwanted holes in your walls.

If you would like to do a wall grouping using several pieces you can avoid a cluttered look by using similar frames and the same matting on all the pieces. Also, do a layout on the floor with the art before you attempt to hang it. Block out the allotted wall space with easy to remove blue painter's tape and work within those same perimeters on your floor layout.

When you have artwork professionally framed, the framer will usually provide you with the hanging hardware. They may also indicate on the hanging wire at what distance apart you should place the hardware. If the piece is large or heavy, two separate hangers are a good idea to distribute the weight.

If you need to purchase the hardware, there are hooks and nails specially designed for hanging art. On the package it will indicate the weight tolerances of the hardware. Always use this special hardware, easily found in home improvement stores and frame shops, to assure your art is secure on the wall and to prevent damage to your walls.

Framed art can also be effectively displayed on decorative easels. These can be large floor models or small easels designed for table surfaces. It is also popular these days to lean art against the wall so it can be easily moved around.

If you purchase art from a local gallery, they may even deliver and hang the art for you as part of their service.
One more thing—another of those darn cautionary notes—be especially careful when hanging works on paper. Even if they are framed in Plexiglas they are still subject to fading. Do not hang in direct sunlight and do not hang in a steamy bathroom. It's okay for inexpensive decorative prints (they can be replaced), but not valuable works on paper. Moisture, as well as sunlight, is their enemy. 

Rotating Your Collection

Let's say that over time you have acquired a sizeable art collection and you are running out of display or wall space. You love your art, but your surroundings are becoming all too cluttered. You realize the importance of retaining negative space, a place for the eye to rest, so that the art can be fully enjoyed. You don't wish to sell or give any of the art away. What do you do? Move?

One of the best solutions is to rotate your collection. That means, you either display it in another room, put it away completely for a while, or both. Storing art, if done properly, is not a bad thing. In fact, when it's been out of sight for a while and reappears as part of your life again, it's like seeing an old friend. This may sound odd—but I've noticed this in galleries when we'd put art away and then bring it back out later—the art had regained some lost energy, appearing rested and fresh like it had been on vacation.

When we talk about storing art this does not mean in a storage locker. No, no, no. Do not let it leave your premises. It should reside in a safe, dry space in your abode where you can keep an eye on it. Framed works can be stored vertically, each piece separated by large pieces of cardboard or carpet so the frames do not bang together and get dented, chipped or scratched. In addition, wrapping framed art in old sheets while it's being stored will protect it from dust, dirt, and critters.

A word about loaning out your art—do so at your own risk. It could get lost, stolen or damaged. Even museums, with all their expertise, have been known to misplace or inadvertently damage art.

Also, with unframed works on paper or oils on canvas that have been removed from their stretcher bars, do not leave them rolled up in tubes. A good idea is to store them horizontally in what are known as "flat files." These stacked, shallow drawers made of wood or metal are designed for the storage of unframed art and are available at large art supply stores and catalogs such as Daniel Smith.


Just a few words here. If you have a print that has stains or small tears around its borders you can take it to fine paper conservators for restoration. They can eliminate most stains and make small tears invisible.

One more thing— if you are considering the purchase of an expensive old oil painting, take it to a restorer before you commit to the sale. He or she will use a "black light" to see into the pigment and determine how much if any restoration work has been done. It's not unusual for older works to have some restoration in their history. However, if the piece has been coated with too much shellac by incompetent restorers, the original work can often be lost. This can take a significant toll on the painting's value.

Cleaning and Maintenance

We're almost finished. There are just a few housekeeping tips you should be aware of. One is, never use Windex on Plexiglas. Don't get me wrong, Windex is a fine product, but it's not meant for "plex." Repeated use can cause the surface to pit. There are special polishes formulated for use on plex but I find a light dusting with a soft cloth (never paper towels) or feather duster works well. To remove finger prints or smudges, a soft cloth dampened with a little rubbing alcohol accomplishes the task just fine.

The beauty of oil paintings is that the surface is washable. Here in Hawaii where I live we have these friendly little critters called geckos that live indoors as well as out. They are a fact of life. They're kind of fun to have around but they do leave little "calling cards" here and there. Since geckos can run up a wall as well as across it, it isn't unusual to find droppings on the surface of your art.

I clean the paintings in my collection by using a soft cloth moistened with a little (mild) soapy water. If you are careful not to stretch or poke the canvas and use a light touch, no worries.

This does not mean you should make a habit of touching the surface of your oil paintings. It's not beneficial to add your skin oils to the canvas. I've heard too that it can take up to twenty years for an oil painting to dry completely after it's been painted. Sculptures you can touch, and are meant to be touched. Oils are not.

Displaying Your Art Part One

Congratulations! You've gotten your feet wet and purchased a real piece of fine art. It cost a significant amount of your hard earned money. To display and protect the art it has to be framed. There's a frame shop in the mall close to your house. Why not go there? It'll be convenient.

Wait. It's not quite that simple (of course).
Framing Art

Just as you have taken great care in the choosing of your art, you should also take great care in choosing your framer. Perhaps someday you'd like to leave the art to your children or maybe you hope to sell it. It any case, it must be preserved in pristine condition if it is to maintain or increase in value. Besides, as the art's custodian, you owe it to the art to take good care of it.

Anyone can open a frame shop and display frame samples, perhaps even present you with some good ideas. What your first concern should be, however, is that the framer knows how to correctly handle the work, especially works on paper.

A word of caution—just because a frame shop exists in a sophisticated urban area is no guarantee the framer knows how to properly frame art. I had a friend who had a beautiful antique engraving destroyed by a "big city" framer who glued it to the backing. Works on paper should always be held in place with linen hinges and backed by acid-free paper or board. Taped or glued corners can irreparably damage the art. And it's not unheard of for an inexperienced framer to trim the edges of a piece of art to fit it into a particular frame. Art should never be trimmed, ever!

Once you have determined that a framer employs "archival" framing methods and standards then consider the framer's aesthetics. Does the framer have an eye for what style and type of frame will enhance the piece? A good framer is an artist in his or her own way—it takes a special talent to excel at the craft.

Speaking of artists, it has been my experience that artists are not necessarily adept when it comes to framing their own art. Most successful artists will seek out the services of an experienced framer to appropriately frame their work and thus present it in the best possible light.

A good way to find the right framer for you is to take note of frames when you are browsing in the galleries. When you see framing that you feel enhances the work and suits your personal style, you may ask gallery staff who does their framing for them.

Frame shops usually have art on display to give you an idea of their capabilities. Referrals are best, however. Other collectors, artists, dealers, and museum personnel can also recommend qualified framers to you. It's a good idea to stay away from interior decorators when seeking framing advice. There's a good chance they're more interested in the frame as decoration, and thus, overdo it.

Art galleries usually display art already framed or offer framing services on works represented by their gallery. If you live in an area devoid of quality framers you just might let the gallery handle framing for you if you like what they have to offer. You may pay more than if you'd had it done yourself but the gallery is providing you with convenience and expertise. The downside is, shipping a framed vs. unframed piece will cost you more.

Don't be afraid to ask the potential framer questions. You might ask, do you do archival framing? Use the material in this section to help you devise specific questions to determine how knowledgeable the framer is. A good framer will do the following when framing works on paper:

1. Use only acid-free paper or board for mounting and matting because acid produces "foxing" or spots on works on paper over time;
2. Use linen hinges to hold down edges because Scotch tape or other commercial tape contain acid that will seep into the picture;
3. Completely seal the work in its frame because changes in humidity and temperature are damaging to works on paper;
4. Use Plexiglas instead of glass to help screen out harmful ultraviolet light because works on paper are subject to fading; also, "plex" is not as fragile as glass, and thus better for shipping; it is also lighter in weight making it easier to hang the finished piece;
5. Will not use Plexiglas for pastels or charcoal drawings because Plexiglas generates static electricity which can lift the pastel or charcoal particles off the paper;
6. Use "spacers" between the glass and the art so the surface of the art and glass do not touch.
7. Understand this is an important decision for you and will be helpful, patient, and give you plenty of time to make up your mind.

The oil in the oil painting medium preserves the color and so oils on canvas do not usually require a glass or Plexiglas covering. Fragile Old Master works such as the Mona Lisa are preserved under glass, mostly to protect them from demented people who deface paintings or to keep viewers who can't resist from touching the surface of the canvas.

All this attention to the preservation of your art is not meant to minimize the importance of the way the frame looks. The right frame can make or break a work of art. If you have already toured art galleries, you've probably seen art on the walls that screams, "Hey, look at my frame!" The frame is so overpowering you barely notice the art. The purpose of this "over framing" is to declare that the art is important and therefore, the price justified. The frame's function is to provide a "framework" for the art, not to be noticed for its own sake.

What the frame style should do is simply show the art to its best advantage. The framing should be based on the nature of the art. A heavily carved baroque frame would overpower a delicate watercolor, but just might work on a strongly colored oil painting.

While there are no hard and fast rules, here are a few suggestions:

1. You might consider using a "liner" to help set off an oil painting or work on paper. Liners can be flat or slightly curved (called a "scoop"). These liners are covered in fabrics such as linen or silk and separate the painting from the frame molding. White, off-white or ivory work best; colors tend to be overpowering and distracting.
2. A thin strip of molding (about 1/4" wide) between the liner and the painting, or frame and the painting, is called a "fillet" and can add a subtle sparkle to the work. Fillets come in many colors but gold is the most effective.
3. The width of the mat should not be the same as the width of the frame itself. Wide mats look good with narrower frames and narrower mats look better with wider moldings.
4. The width of the molding you will need depends a lot on the size of the piece. You may like the look of a very narrow molding with your piece, but the narrow frame may be too weak to support it.
5. Gold is often called "the great organizer" and goes with almost everything.

Be prepared for sticker shock—framing is an expensive proposition. However, this is no time to scrimp on quality. If you can't afford quality framing, it might be a good idea to wait until you can. A cheap (not to be confused with simple) frame on a work of fine art (we're not talking posters here) will, well . . . still look cheap.

When choosing a frame listen to the advice of a quality framer and follow your own taste—remember, you are a team. Have confidence in your eye; it was you who chose the work of art in the first place. And, if you've found a good framer, stick with him or her. Good framers, like good car mechanics, are worth their weight in gold.

Part 2 to follow

Buying Art-Things to Beware of

The title of this section is not meant to frighten you. If you break down the word "beware" it simply means to be aware and implies caution. Yes, there are pitfalls out there and you don't want to make costly mistakes, but if you've done your homework, your browsing, and know what you like and can afford, go forth with confidence.

There are just a few more things you should be aware of to leave you well prepared.

Sales Pressure

Art galleries often have small, private rooms which are adjacent to the main gallery space. These rooms are equipped with comfortable sofas and dimmer switches and are called "viewing rooms." If you express interest in a particular piece, the art consultant (salesperson) will often whisk it off the wall and have you follow him or her into the viewing room where you can focus on the art in comfort and privacy.

All well and good. You are made to feel special. You see the art in a simulated domestic setting. Perhaps you are offered a glass of wine, or at opening night exhibitions, champagne. The door is closed so you don't have to submit to the prying eyes of the hoi polloi. And, as luck would have it, this is the art consultant's favorite artist too, this particular piece as well!

The dimmer switch comes into play so you can see the piece in a variety of light. See how the moon is illuminated; it has been rendered so masterfully, it glows like the real thing . . . the eyes on the figure are so lifelike, they follow you around the room. . . you have to check with your wife (or husband)? Here, you can use my phone.

Once you are in that room, some, not all by any means, salespeople may not want to let you off the hook. In my gallery days, I had clients tell me horror stories of sales staff from other galleries following them down the street or (since I live in a resort area) tracking them down at their hotels. These are desperate tactics of commission sales people who need the sale and are not the norm.

The point is, don't allow yourself to succumb to sales pressure or feel obligated to buy. Don't be swayed by a "dog and pony show," or flattery. Beware of being caught up in the excitement of the moment and buying on impulse.
The only reason you should buy a work of art is because you love it and can afford it.

One Hit Wonders

A successful, well known artist who was also a friend of mine was teaching his son to paint. The son showed an aptitude and dutifully copied his father's composition, palette and style down to the last brushstroke. The piece, a seascape, turned out to be lovely and the father's gallery hung the painting alongside his work as a favor. The piece, priced at a fraction of the father's work, sold—for the princely sum of $5,000!

It was the only piece the son ever completed and he moved on to other things. (I think he wanted to become a rock star.)

The lesson is: before you purchase any work check the artist's credentials, his or her body of work, and sales history. Much like a future employer may ask an applicant for a salary history, you should examine what an artist's previous work has sold for. When collecting art, beware of "one hit wonders."

One More Thing…

Okay, you've found a piece of art that not only speaks to you, it sings. You examined the artist's body of work and his or her track record. The piece is well priced and you can afford it. You love it, love it, love it!

You dither around, afraid to take the plunge. You sleep on it and in the morning light, you still can't stop thinking about the piece. For whatever reason, you put off the purchase. Finally, you are ready to act and guess what? It's gone, sold to another collector!

The lesson is: all things being right, beware of waiting too long to buy. Learn to recognize opportunity when it knocks. You don't want to be left out in the cold. 

Discover Artist Page

All Artists-Free Publicity on the My Art Collection Web Page

This is an artist based publicity service we created and you can participate for FREE. All you need to do is post a blurb about our product on your facebook, twitter or blog page, then submit the link to us with one piece of your art and's really easy.

Go this link: your bio and a piece of art.

Our website gets a lot of hits from serious collectors all over the world so it is a great way for you to market yourself directly to people who have a passion for buying art.

Miami Art Week in Slideshow

 The 12th edition of the Art Basel in Miami Beach art fair opened to VIP cardholders on Wednesday, and, in barely two hours of Black Friday-like shopping, racked up many millions in sales. 
Almost at once, David Zwirner Gallery sold a Jeff Koons sculpture that wasn’t even physically present at its booth for $8 million dollars, according to the gallery — an instant though phantom top-lot transaction. The gallery declined to provide other details.
At New York’s Van de Weghe Gallery, early sales included Gerhard Richter’s color-saturated and squeegeed “Abstraktes Bild (595-3),” 1986, which sold in the region of the $3.2 million asking price to an American collector, and a 2005 Damien Hirst spin painting embedded with two expired credit cards — “Beautiful, I Pushed the Controls and Ahead of Me Rockets Blazed, I Don’t Want to Be a Dead Artist Painting” — for $580,000. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s fiercely drawn “Head,” 1985, also sold, for approximately $580,000.
Other early seven-figure sales included a new Georg Baselitz patinated bronze, “Louise Fuller,” 2013, which Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac of Paris and Salzburg said it had sold to a private American collector for $2 million, and, at Pace Gallery, a wind-driven Alexander Calder “Untitled” standing mobile from 1962 that went for more than a million dollars.
And over at New York’s Helly Nahmad, Calder’s fire engine–red 1970 “Brontosaurus,” dominating the center of the stand and bearing a non-prehistoric $12 million price tag, had had a so-called “reserve” placed on it.
Sales at lower altitudes were more plentiful, for example at Sprüth Magers of Berlin and London, where Sterling Ruby’s large-scale spray painting “SP256” sold for $550,000 andBarbara Kruger’s digital print on vinyl “Untitled (Don’t Shoot),” 2013 — which pictures someone holding a miniature, non-digital spy camera overlaid with blocky text — went for $275,000. Several found-object sculptures by Cyprien Geillard, encased in elegant vitrines, also sold, at 40,000 euros each — including “Untitled (Tooth),” 2012, a single tooth from an excavator bucket, resembling an archaeological artifact.
“The first two hours [of the fair] have been very good,” says Sprüth Magers’s London director,Andreas Gegner. “People are very quick. They research and pick beforehand in order to close deals.”
There’s always a big hunt for new talent at Art Basel, as evidenced at Los Angeles’s Blum & Poegallery, where “Untitled,” a five-panel dye sublimation print on linen by 25-year-old Brooklyn-based artist Hugh Scott-Douglas, sold for $90,000 to Montreal collector Francois Odermatt.
The blown-up images of sections of a five-euro note attracted strong interest, and according to Odermatt, “you’re going to hear a lot more about this artist.”
Politically potent work was also in demand, like Ai Weiwei’s beautiful “Jade Handcuffs,” 2012, which sold for 70,000 euros at London’s Lisson Gallery. Ai’s “Forever,” also from 2013, a large sculpture comprised of two rows of six bicycles, also sold at the booth, for 250,000 euros.
The fair runs through Sunday.

Click here for slideshow:

The Vocabulary of Art

Knowledge of the language of art is essential for a collector. It is part of becoming conversant and establishing credibility. As you learn the terminology, a quick sketch of the history of art and a primer on graphics will emerge— both effective tools in building your understanding and appreciation.
Styles and Movements in Art

The history of art does not represent a neat and orderly evolution of movements and styles. In traditional art there is an orderly sequence of one generation of painters to the next or a steady sequence of change within boundaries. Since the modern period however, the course of painting meanders with revolutions and counter-revolutions—often developing so rapidly that one is shoved aside by the next.

In one sense, modern art doesn't begin in the mid-19th century as generally accepted because it begins everywhere, from 30,000 year old cave paintings to the latest museum exhibition. Through these movements in the history of art colliding, repelling, fusing and morphing, they have inspired generations of artists with their diverse and unexpected combinations.

Abstract - Beginning in Russia in the early 20th century, non-figurative painting and sculpture; emphasizes a derived essential character as felt by the artist with little visual reference to objects in nature.

Abstract Expressionism - Philosophical and social as well as artistic movement which began in 1940's America. Emotion was paramount and the artist followed his feelings of the moment, rejecting all influences outside his head.

Art Nouveau - A style of art that flourished during the last decade of the 19th century and early years of the 20th which used curvilinear forms, sometimes derived from organic life, in figurative and decorative arts as well as architecture.

Baroque - A style of artistic expression prevalent in the 17th century characterized by elaborate, exuberant, dynamic forms; generally the antithesis of the restraint of classical and Renaissance styles.

Classic - Refers to quality rather than period style (as distinguished from classical).

Classicism - Art and architecture based on the study and emulation of classical art; characterized by repose, reserve and calm, and guided by reason and intellect.

Classical - The art of Greece and Rome from approximately 530 B.C. to 330 A.D.; also later art, especially the Renaissance, influenced by Greece and Rome. Characterized by order, symmetry, and refinement of proportion.

Cubism - An early 20th century school of painting and sculpture in which the subject matter is portrayed by geometric forms without realistic detail, stressing abstract form at the expense of other pictorial elements; often making use of intersecting, often transparent, cubes and cones. The real subjects drawn from the natural world are still recognizable and not completely abandoned.

Dada -A strongly political movement at the end of World War I that revolted against pretentious aesthetic theories and over-intellectualizing in art, literature and politics. Attempted to depict the objective observation of sordidness and despair; characterized by grotesque and horrid imagery and the rejection of every moral, social and aesthetic code. It mocked conventional styles to the point of absurdity; a precursor to surrealism.

Expressionism - Originating in Germany around 1905, the movement emphasized the expression of inner experience rather than solely realistic portrayal, seeking to depict not objective reality but the subjective emotions and responses that the subject aroused in the artist. Used strong colors and powerful, sometimes distorted, shapes.

Fauvism - Part of the post-Impressionist school in which color was extolled for itself rather than used as a descriptive or decorative accessory to other elements in the picture. Characterized by an arbitrary departure from the colors in nature.

Figurative Art - Art in which recognizable figures or objects are portrayed.

Folk Art -Traditional representations usually bound by conventions in both form and content, of a folkloric character and usually made by persons without institutionalized training.

Gothic - A style of artistic expression which flourished during the late Middle Ages, from about 1200 to 1500 characterized by flying buttresses and pointed arches in architecture and romanticized religious subject matter in painting.

Impressionism - The impressionist style of painting is chiefly characterized by concentration on the general impression produced by a scene or object and the use of unmixed primary colors and small strokes to simulate actual reflected light.

Mannerism - An artistic style which prevailed in Europe from about 1525 to 1600 as a reaction to the standards of the Renaissance. Characterized by exaggerated and unnatural proportions, colors and lighting and an increased expression of emotion.

Naturalism - Aesthetic satisfaction is found in the way the painting was done while the subject is secondary. Unlike realism, naturalism is amoral; the artist paints what he sees without incorporating moral values and deals with the moment only. Naturalism marks the birth of the idea of "art for art's sake" (c. 1863).

Neo-classicism - The revival or adaptation of classical taste and style; usually refers to the revival during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Pointillism - A technique employed by post-impressionists in which color is applied in dots of uniform size. When seen from a distance the dots become invisible, appearing to form a single color and the painting looks as though it was painted with large, sweeping brush strokes.

Pop Art - Emerging in the 1960's, a purely American art form that focused on the outrageous portrayal of American consumer society using advertising imagery and mass market graphics.

Post-Impressionism - Arriving two years after the zenith of Impressionism, expanded the focus from landscapes, the human figure and misty washes of light to exploring a strong, more forceful use of color and a concern with stronger delineation vs. hazy atmospherics.

Primitive; Naïve - The artist is self-taught and paints with an honesty and naïve directness.

Realism - In the arts, Realism is the accurate, detailed, unembellished depiction of nature or of contemporary life. Realism rejects imaginative idealization in favor of close observation of outward appearances, seeing the world for what it is and accepting its existence as unalterable fact.

Romanticism - An idealized art form which began as a revolt against the classical dogma of neo-classicism. Characterized by the triumph of emotion over reason, of the mysterious over the rational, of the individual against formula and born of the philosophy that emotion holds the answer that everyone seeks.

Rococo - A style prevalent in the 18th century which was an elaborate extension of the baroque; more decorative and possessing a gaiety and lightness, lacking a serious treatment of the subject matter.

Renaissance - The revival of culture and learning in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries influenced by classical literature and art. Characterized by idealized naturalism and emotional restraint expressed in rational, harmonious and balanced terms; the antithesis of baroque which is undisciplined and overly emotional.

Representational Art - Art in which recognizable objects, figures, or elements in nature are depicted.

Social Realism - A predominantly American art movement beginning around the great depression in which the artist was moved to depict the harsh conditions in society and the alienation of the individual within it.

Super Realism - Emerging in the 1970's, subjects are portrayed with a precision more vivid than a photograph and devoid of human feelings creating a disturbing effect; a commentary on consumerism which places greater value on things than people.

Surrealism - A 20th-century literary and artistic movement that attempts to express the workings of the subconscious by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtaposition of subject matter.

Visionary; Fantasy - Unreality; the portrayal of the world of enchantment or dreams that paradoxically combines fantasy and factualness.

Print Terminology or the Language of Graphics

If you are confused by such terms as graphic, print, original or reproduction, rest assured, you are not alone. These terms are commonly misunderstood. If a person says, "I want an original," what they mean is that they want an original oil painting, a one of a kind. Just because a piece of art is an oil painting doesn't guarantee it is original. It could be a copy. The source of "original" artwork lies in the imagination of the artist—the idea originates in the artist's own mind, whether it is executed as an oil, a drawing, a collage or a woodblock print.

Certainly all "original" work is influenced by something, perhaps the artist's knowledge of art history. Never before has the artist had so much access to the imagery that came before. It's to be expected that older imagery will be merged, consciously or unconsciously, with an artist's own vision to become something unique. Perhaps a better word to describe a "one of" is "unique."

An original graphic is not a copy of the artwork, but the original artwork itself. It is the print from a print-plate (lithostone/etching-plate), on which the artist produces the original artwork manually. For this the artist needs specific skills and knowledge. Multiplication of the original is inherent to this technique. Whether printing 10 or 100 originals from the print-plate, each print is an original, an original graphic, often referred to as a multiple original. The original characteristics remain unaltered, regardless of a very large or a very small edition (size) though the number of pieces in the edition will affect the price. As a general rule, the smaller the edition, the higher the price will be. The number and the signature are customary, indicating quantity (edition size) and authenticity, nothing else.

A reproduction is a different story and doesn't require the specific skills of the artist. He or she doesn't even have to be there. What is necessary, however, is an example, an original work of art from which photographic or mechanical copies are made. The artist has sold permission to a publisher or printmaker to copy his or her work. To add to the confusion, the artist often signs and numbers these reproductions, usually for money. In essence, with a reproduction or multiple copies, you are buying the artist's signature on a copy of an original work of art.

Artist proof (A.P.) - A print outside of the numbered series, usually 1/10 of the edition.

Aquatint - An intaglio method in which areas of color are made by dusting powdered resin on a metal plate and then letting acid eat the plate surface away from around it.

Bon-a-tirer (Fr. "good to pull"; pron. bone-ah-ti-RAY). The first impression of a print run acceptable to the artist and used as the standard with which each subsequent impression is compared.

Dry point - An intaglio technique like engraving in which the image is drawn on a metal plate with a needle, raising a ridge which prints a soft line.

Embossed Print Uninked - A relief print in which dampened paper is pressed into recessed areas of a plate to produce a three-dimensional impression.

Engraving - An intaglio process in which lines are cut into a metal plate and then filled with ink to transfer the image onto paper.

Etching - An intaglio process in which an image is scratched through an acid-resistant coating on a metal plate. The plate is then dipped in acid which eats into the exposed surface.

Graphic - Any work printed directly on paper from a plate or block.

Hors de commerce (H.C.) (Fr. "Outside of sale"; pron. OR decom-AIRCE) - A designation for prints not in the numbered series pulled for the use of the publisher, normally limited to five or six.

Intaglio (Ital. "Incision"; pron. in TAHL-yo) - Any technique in which an image is incised below the surface of the plate, including dry point, etching, aquatint, engraving, and mezzotint.

Linocut - A process in which an image is cut in relief on a linoleum block.

Lithograph - A planographic process in which images are drawn with crayon or a greasy ink on stone or metal and then transferred to paper.

Mezzotint - An intaglio process in which the plate surface is roughened and then an image is created by smoothing the areas to be printed.

Monotype - A unique print made from an inked, painted glass or metal plate.

Photomechanical Offset Printing - A process in which an image is transferred to a printing plate photographically and then onto a roller which prints on paper. An offset print is not a graphic.

Planography - Any process of printing from a surface level with the plate, as lithography.

Relief - A technique in which the portions of a plate intended to print are raised above the surface, as woodcut, linocut, etc.

Roman Numbered Edition - A smaller edition numbered with Roman numerals, usually a deluxe edition on higher quality paper.

Serigraphy (screenprinting, silkscreen) - A stenciling method in which the image is transferred to paper by forcing ink through a fine mesh in which the background has been blocked.

Signed and Numbered - Authenticated with the artist's signature, the total number of impressions in the edition, and the order in which the impression is signed; i.e., 5/20 indicates that the print is the fifth signed of an edition of 20 impressions.

Woodcut - Oldest type of print; a process in which an image is cut in relief on a wood block.

Art Mediums

Once an idea is born in the mind of the artist, he or she must then determine what form that vision will take; how to make what is seen in the mind's eye a reality. Listed below are the various mediums artists may use to express their creativity (aside from prints which are discussed in detail above).

Acrylic - A modern painting medium that can be used on canvas or paper; characterized by intensity of color and permanence.

Calligraphy - Elegant, decorative handwriting executed with pen and ink or brush and ink.

Collage - The technique of applying paper or other material to the surface of a painting or directly on to paper.

Gouache - Watercolor painting made opaque by the addition of white.

Mixed Media - The artist uses a combination of media on one work.

Mobile - Movable sculpture whose forms are linked by wires or rods; often moved by currents of air.

Oils - Painting medium where colors are ground up and mixed with oil; used on canvas, board and sometimes paper.

Pastels - Dry pigment which is rolled into a crayon-like form and used on special paper which has a gritty surface to hold the color.

Sculpture - A three-dimensional form in space (as opposed to paintings which are two-dimensional) which may be made of wood, bronze, stone or other material.

Tempera - A type of paint in which egg yolk and water are employed with pigment instead of oil.

Watercolor - A painting medium in which water is combined with pigment creating transparent color.

Misc. Terms

A few more words come to mind that don't fit into the above categories but will be useful additions to your repertoire.

Chiaroscuro - The use of strong contrasts of light and shade.

Diptych - A two paneled painting.

Genre - Unidealized treatment of subjects taken from ordinary daily life.

Hue - A particular gradation of color; tint or shade.

Iconography - A pictorial illustration of a given subject.

Impasto - A thick, paste-like application of paint to the surface of a painting.

Intensity - Degree of hue in a color, i.e., amount of redness.

Miniature - A tiny picture, most often a portrait.

Painterly - A technique where details and edges are not defined by lines but are blended into the surrounding areas.

Patina - A surface appearance that has grown beautiful with age or use. In contemporary sculpture, often the product of chemicals and heat.

Provenance - Verifiable history of a work's origin and ownership.

Santo - The painted image of a saint in the American Southwest.

Triptych - A three-paneled painting.

Ukiyo-e - Japanese art form in which the figures are archetypal and highly stylized; the subject matter traditional.

Value - The amount of light or dark added to hues to change their intensity. A component, with hue and intensity, of color.

Protecting Your Valuable Art Collection

Your Database and your Insurance company.  In that order!

     So  what do you, as a collector, need to do to protect your collection?  You need to keep a record of what you have and then make sure you have enough insurance to cover it in the case of a loss.  The needs of a collector can be completely stored in a software database like My Art Collection.

   A typical art collecting software needs to do a couple of things.  One, it needs to be populated with all the pertinent  details of your art collection and two, it needs to have excellent photos of each piece along with the specifics of how much it cost and what it is worth.  My Art Collection software is perfect for a typical collector  because In this software you can store literally millions of items and up to 6 photos of each item.  You can also build a portfolio, create an insurance report and many other things.

     Once you have your collection input into the software you will want to get it insured and, you will now have a good sense of how much insurance you actually need. Like most people I hate paying for insurance as much as I hate folding laundry but, in those times when I must purchase it, because it is critically important for protection, I want to know a couple of things:

     First I want to know what kind of coverage I need and...

     Second I want to know if I am covered completely?

     One big consideration with any kind of rare collection (whether it is art or books or stamps,)  is that you must have enough of the right kind of insurance.

     If you have a  homeowner's policy or renter's policy you need to know how much, and exactly what,  it specifically  covers?  Do you need additional coverage because you collection is worth more than you thought?  Maybe you need a specific rider policy that adds to how much coverage you have.  Maybe your homeowners policy doesn't cover anywhere near the replacement cost of your collection.

     Even if your collection is modest, you might be surprised to see how much it would cost to try and replace it.  Your blanket homeowners policy is usually not enough.  It is likely entirely inadequate.  My experience is that it rarely, if ever, is even close to adequate.  So always talk to your insurance agent and get input on what you need and how much you need.  Remember, this is the same man or woman you will be handing over a copy of your inventory to, if the time ever comes, that you have a claim.  Make sure you were both on the same page when you designed your policy.

     The things that make your art collection unique also make up the few details that you need to have documented in the case of a loss.  My Art Collection software will help you to detail, and track, these few unique factors that will be key when you have to make an insurance claim, want to print a portfolio or want to see a report of either that can sort 5 different ways.

     When an insurance company pays you for a loss claim you can bet that it will be entirely determined on those  pieces of information they can use to best verify that:

1-You actually owned that specific piece.
2-That the value of that piece is what you say it is.
3-That the piece, if replaced today is worth what you say it is worth.
4-That your policy is written to cover the claim as you need it to be (this is why you want to work closely with your agent at the time of taking out the policy)

     Rule number one is "Never assume that your existing policy covers your collection."  I cannot overemphasize this point.   As I mentioned earlier in this post on this subject, your homeowners or renters policy most likely will NOT cover your collection in any significant way.

     So what exactly are the details of your works that you need to have documented?

1-The easy ones:  Artist and title
2-Your out of pocket cost for the piece and its current value with receipts when available
3-Any third party appraisal and authentication Information and
4-Photos of the item.  (My Art Collection software allows the storage of up to 6 photos per entry.)

     With My Art Collection you can keep all that info and also other things like a sales history, a bio on the artist, printed or pdf reports and portfolios.

     One thing I have not much addressed in this 3 part blog is the actual loss of your collectibles.  This can be very traumatic emotionally.  Crazy and shallow but its true.   Without being overly dramatic here, I am a book collector and its a fact that I am pretty attached to some of the things in my own collection.  Many of the books I own were inscribed to me or,  in the case of authors long dead before I was born, inscribed to someone else.  In the case of a dead author, these kinds of items cannot ever be replaced.  Ok so its not like a divorce or the loss of a parent or friend but, it can sure feel like it when it happens.  The last thing you want to do if a disaster strikes is find out your homeowners policy only covers up to $500 of your collection (the good news is that there's no deductible...J/K I don't know.)

  Good luck and always Protect Your Art Collection

The Price of Art

This is every collector's big concern: How can you be certain you are paying a fair price for a piece of art? The pricing of art can be as subjective as taste. Artists may ask themselves, what amount will make it worthwhile for me to part with this piece? The art gallery may ask, what must the art cost to make it deserving of wall space? It is up to you to determine for yourself if a piece is worth the asking price. This isn't easy because there is no established, agreed-upon price for every painting, print or sculpture.

Sound scary? That's understandable. However, while there are no uniform pricing standards, there are ways of determining value ranges. It's to your advantage to become familiar with what makes up the "fair market value" of a work of art.

Value Factors

Simply put, "value" has to do with why something is worth what it's worth. The value of art is, for the most part, based upon condition and vaguely definable things such as quality, rarity, the reputation of the artist, fashion, and market forces.


The reputation of the artist is considered to be the most important factor of all. The value of art can be hugely based on who did it and when. An oil painting by Van Gogh done in 1889 is worth an unbelievable amount of money. The watercolor done last year by Cousin Michelle is… well, you get the picture.

Remember, always ask to see a biography of the artist whose work you are interested in acquiring. Information on the artist's background, training and influences as well as career landmarks such as gallery and museum exhibitions should be included. These write-ups often list private collectors and institutions that have previously purchased the artist's work. This information will provide clues on where artists are in their careers, where they've been and where they're going.


When we speak about the quality of a particular work, we mean in relation to other works by the artist. Ask yourself, where does this piece stand in the artist's overall body of work—the importance of acquiring the best the artist has to offer cannot be overstated. If the piece is a later work, does it show a progression, an increased technical or compositional excellence as compared with earlier works?


The condition of a work of art is paramount. This especially applies to works on paper such as watercolors and prints because they are more fragile than, say, an oil on canvas. Of course, you want to be aware of the condition of oils too. Small tears in the canvas, or a little trimming here and there to fit a favorite frame can and will adversely effect a piece's value.

If a print is an antique or very old, check for "foxing" or stains. Be on the lookout for taped or glued down corners and trimmed margins. Works on paper are subject to fading so make sure the colors are bright and strong. Just like a coin, the value of a work of art can be drastically effected by it condition.


If most of the better work of the artist is already in museums or private collections, then his or her remaining artwork will command a higher price. Ask yourself, is the artist working in a medium that takes a long time to create (such as stone or metal sculpting) so that less work is available? Does collector demand exceed the available supply? And is the artist still living and thus able to produce more work, or deceased so that no further work will be created for the marketplace?

When it comes to graphics or multiple originals that are part of an edition, the edition size can affect the price. If the artist produced an edition size of 10 woodblock prints as opposed to 100, (all other things being equal), the pieces in the smaller edition may have more value because so few were made.

Track Record of Sales

This simply means, what have people previously paid for work by the artist? Does the artist have a consistent record of selling in this price range for a comparable work (size, quality)? If the artist is in a career mid-point, is there any indication of price appreciation?

Don't be shy about asking the seller questions about prior sales prices. As a potential collector, you have a right to know.


Naturally, what is trendy at the time is worth more. It is not a reliable measure of value and, by definition, is prone to change.

Marketplace Conditions

The art market, like the stock market, is subject to ups and downs, not all of which can be explained. Up until the 70's and into the 80's, money had not been the be-all and end-all in the art business. It was largely about passion. With the coming of a booming economy people had more discretionary income and everything changed. With a lot of money and young, inexperienced buyers floating around, the scene was set for equally inexperienced people to enter the art business with the primary motive of getting rich. The art market became a money-oriented business.

Unsophisticated collectors were paying outrageous sums for the work of unproven artists. The story of the painter's son selling his first and only work for a lot of money happened during this time of buying art as the "in thing." Of course, when the boom was over, many collectors saw the value of their over-priced art fall through the floor.

A good thing came out of all this. The idea of art as a part of everyday life was, like the genie, not going back into the bottle. Many new artists were given the chance to have their work seen and actually make a living with their art and many new people were introduced to its pleasures.

Remember, current demand can greatly affect the value of art. And, don't be swayed by market hype when determining worth.

Pricing Factors

Pricing occurs after the value of the work has been established. Value is an important component of pricing but there are subsequent factors that come into play as well.

Having attended scores of art exhibitions one of the most frequent questions I've heard artists asked is, "How long did it take for you to paint that?" What they are really thinking is, "Gee, if it only took a week to paint, it shouldn't cost that much," and are equating time with price. One of the best replies I've heard by an artist to this often asked question was, "All my life."

Most artists do not want to answer the question (so please, don't ask it) because they know the human response is to look at the price of the artwork and divide it by the number of hours to arrive at a price. This is not a valid way to determine pricing.

It does not take into account things such as the cost of materials and tools, and extras such as framing and bronze foundry fees. Sculpture bases, often made of granite or marble, are expensive. The cost of professionally photographing and marketing the work doesn't come cheap. There are fees associated with entering shows. Commissions must be paid to galleries and other dealers (generally 40-60% of the sale price). Costs associated with travel to shows and shipping fees to get the art there usually come out of the artist's pocket.

Then there are years of education and experience, which are hard to quantify, that helped the artist develop the skills necessary to create the work. Artists have overhead too, such as a studio in which to work. Today's artists must also create and maintain a website.

All of these factors must be built into the price if the artist is to earn a living.

The more you look at art, the more you will get a feel for what the selling prices are for the kinds of work you like. When you are in your "browsing" mode, be sure to make note of prices too. You can use them as a basis for comparison when you are finally ready to buy.


Can you bargain for a better price? Fair question.

Basically, there are only two ways in which art is acquired by an art gallery.
The art may have been purchased by the gallery and then given a retail profit markup, or it was consigned by the artist to the gallery with the sale price split between the gallery and the artist as determined by overhead.

As a savvy buyer, you should always ask the art dealer or gallery salesperson if the piece of art you are interested in is consigned or purchased.

Usually, if the artwork has been consigned there is no extra gallery markup to permit price negotiation. If, on the other hand, the dealer owns the artwork outright and needs to turn over the inventory, there is sometimes an opportunity to bargain for a better price. This is not, however, the same thing as a "discount."

Most legitimate, long-established art galleries do not play the game of hiking up prices in anticipation of markdowns, often the case with everything from jewelry to sweaters. Nor do they offer so-called "discounts" from an already artificially high selling price. Successful art dealers know the current market value of their wares and price the artwork accordingly. This is particularly true if the dealer expects repeat business from the customers who acquire art from that gallery. Price-gouging doesn't work for very long in this or any business.

Art as an Investment

The single most important thing to remember when discussing the subject of investment in art is that no one can ever promise an increase in value. There is no crystal ball to foresee what the value of any work will be in the future.  

Does this mean that artwork should never be discussed as a "good investment?" Well, that depends on who you talk to.

There are museum curators, media art critics, and art history scholars—the elitist portion of the art world—who totally debunk art ownership for investment. "One should collect art only for one's intellectual and sensual enjoyment . . . Spiritual enrichment should be the true goal of collecting art."

Okay, tell that to the savvy thirty-something collector who picked up a Jean-Michel Basquiat drawing for a song twenty or so years ago . . .

This collector probably didn't purchase the artwork with the idea of making money, however, like most of us, secretly hoped that the art would prove to be a winner and perhaps skyrocket upward in value over the years. The Basquiat collector liked the art, wanted it in his life and could afford it. The fact that it turned out to be a superb investment was icing on the cake.

The questions you have to ask yourself are: Do you think of art investment as a speculative investment in which you are betting that the artwork will yield a profit in the immediate future? Or, are you concerned with investment as a preservation of capital in which you expect the artwork to maintain its value in the foreseeable future with a potential profit down the road?

If your answer is speculative investment you'd probably be better off investing in the stock market or commodity futures. And presumably you wouldn't be framing a stock certificate and hanging it on the wall. At least then you wouldn't have to look at your mistakes.

Investment-grade Art

What constitutes investment grade art depends on who you talk to. Art dealers and collectors use several buying strategies. Some advise purchasing paintings and prints of established masters such as Rembrandt, Raphael, Vermeer, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Chagall, etc. Other experts suggest that you are better off by investing in young emerging artists. You can often find very fine work being created by young, relatively unknown regional artists. Buyers will thus have the opportunity to obtain good value at bargain prices if they invest in the work of exceptional artists before they reach the peak of their career.

Whatever your strategy, most art professionals agree that you should purchase only what you like. If the value goes up, well then you've made an intelligent investment. If it does not, then you and your family can still enjoy the aesthetic pleasure that prompted you to buy the art in the first place. In either case you will still have something valuable to show for your money.

Old Masters

A group of about 250 Old Master painters remain a good investment, but the prices are extremely high. These Old Masters range from the paintings of the Italian Renaissance—Leonardo di Vinci, Botticelli, the Bellinis, Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, Giorgione, to the brilliant canvases and wood panels of the Flemish and Dutch geniuses—van Eyck, Memling, Bruegel the Elder, Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer. Certain French and German engravers and painters, as well as the Spaniards El Greco and Goya, are included.

Keep in mind that a number of these old masters also made prints. These etchings, woodblocks and engravings are still relatively inexpensive despite their extreme rarity. In the opinion of many art dealers and knowledgeable art collectors, these old master prints offer some of the best investment potential in the art market today.

WARNING! Stay away from "restrikes," where the plates have been reworked by someone other than the original artist. If the dealer doesn't know what edition or "state" the impression is from, don't buy it.

New Masters

French Impressionists such as Renoir, Manet, Monet, Pizzaro, Mary Cassatt, and Post-Impressionists like Cezanne, Van Gogh and Seurat and are extremely valuable in today's art market. Some of these Impressionists also produced a relatively small body of graphic work. These rare, elegant etchings and stone lithographs are, like many of the Old Masters graphics, still relatively affordable.

Twentieth Century Masters

Included are the works of Picasso, Miro, Chagall, Matisse, Jackson Pollack, and even Andy Warhol and command especially high prices. However, the investor must be careful when it comes to acquiring Modern Art. The art movement known as "Modern Art" has often been lacking in direction and quite vulnerable to the influence of well-orchestrated promotional campaigns. Skyrocketing prices into the millions for still-living artists are always in danger of market corrections.

WARNING! Don't buy with your ears instead of your eyes. Purchasing trendy art is usually like investing in penny stocks—it's a dangerous game.

American Masters

Traditional, Regional, 20th Century Realism and Western American art is just now beginning to attain its own national significance. A substantial portion of all American art is sold here in the United States. In comparison, only about a fifth of French art is sold in France. The educated guess of many in the art world is that within the next ten years American Art will become internationalized, broadening the market and rewarding early collectors.


Price up-trends have been very evident in prints. Recently, a Rembrandt etching fetched over a million dollars at auction. Many artists from the Old Masters to the Contemporaries approached printmaking as a challenging art form, equal in significance to their painting, drawing, or sculpting.

Remember, just as you would with any investment, "buy low, sell high" still holds true. That's easy to say and much harder to do but here's a tip. The closer you get to an artist's "stomping grounds" the larger the collector base will be resulting in greater demand. This often means higher prices. When selling, you may wish to focus on an area close to the artist's home base. Conversely, when buying, you might look further afield where the artist is less well known, thus the demand is less and the prices lower.

Obviously, to realize a profit you have to sell your investment. But what if there is a market turn-down? After all, the art market is subject to ups and downs just like the stock market.

The answer is: buy something you love and can afford. If you are sure of the work's quality, have checked its provenance and authenticity, and are happy living with it, no worries. You can ride out the downturn and wait for a more opportune time to sell.

With all this discussion of art as investment it is important not to lose sight of the true value of fine art. Art is about beauty, passion, drama, memory and other intangibles. You should always buy a work of art because of how it makes you feel, and on a personal level, what it means to you.

Collectors and Collections: Welcome to the Club

There was a time when collecting art was solely the province of princes and kings and lords of the church—only the aristocracy need apply. Mid-19th century America changed all that. Among the merely super rich, collecting art came into vogue. Collecting was not based on need but on desire. These collectors were not so crude as to collect art for money, but status and the guilty pleasure of mingling with "bohemians" were surely involved. As a result, museums mushroomed in growth in the 1870's, enriched with the treasures of the wealthy collectors of the time.

Fortunately for us all, art collecting has become democratized. Anyone can become a collector as long as he or she has some money and a passion for art. One thing has not changed since the 19th century, however. Collecting art is still based on desire, not on need.

Need and desire are what distinguish art buyers from art collectors though many an art collector started out as an art buyer. The art buyer has a specific location or need in mind, décor for example. In searching for a seascape to hang behind the sofa, the art buyer becomes increasingly exposed to art. With this focus on art, no matter what the motivation, a shift occurs and the art buyer becomes moved by desire rather than need— the hallmark of the collector. The art collector often can't say what enticed him or her to buy a particular piece in the first place. The only explanation is, "I just had to have it."

There are as many reasons a collector collects as there are people. It could be the need to surround ourselves with beautiful things, or a means of defining our personalities. Some people buy for investment or a wish to leave a legacy. Others may simply want to support emerging artists or assist in the recording of history. What all art collectors have in common is that their tastes and preferences are personal, unique to them, and their pursuit brings them first and foremost, pleasure. All true collectors—young and old, rich and not so rich—have a passion for art.

The collector revels in the thrill of the chase, the search for the perfect addition to his or her collection. The process of viewing, learning and acquisition is a joyful one and doesn't feel like work. If it does, it's not for you.

There is a cohesiveness implied in the term 'collection' and the most interesting collections are built around a theme, reflecting the vision of the collector. An eclectic grouping based on personal meaning can also have value as an entity, for the glue that holds it together—in this case, personal meaning—is there.

You may look to museums, both in their permanent collections and special exhibitions, for examples of themes. A theme can be something as straightforward as the work of a single American artist or as whimsical as the portrayal of cats in art. It can be as elegant as a Japanese woodblock print or as stylized as an Art Deco magazine cover. Some collectors are attracted to the three-dimensional and tactile qualities of sculpture. There is ethnic and folk art to consider. The possibilities are endless.
Conceiving the theme of the collection and executing that vision is the responsibility of the collector. By developing a coherent vision and point of view, a collector can create a collection that is more than the sum of its parts and actually enhance the objects in it. Collecting art is an art in itself.

One of the most brilliant and visionary collectors of the twentieth century was the industrialist and philanthropist Norton Simon. His accomplishments as an art collector rivaled his extraordinary achievements in business. He began collecting in the 1950's with the impressionist works of Degas, Renoir, Gauguin and Cezanne. In the 1960's he amassed a collection of works by Old Masters. During this time he also added to his impressionist collection and expanded into modern works.

Norton Simon's marriage to actress Jennifer Jones in 1971 was a turning point in the direction of his collections. With a few exceptions, his acquisitions until then were most definitely European. During the couple's honeymoon trip to India, Mr. Simon began to explore Indian art. This led to his first purchase of Indian art, a Mughal ivory chess set and, more importantly, to a respect for South Asian art. This admiration occupied a large part of his collecting interest for the rest of his life.

Norton Simon's influence in southern California led him to be the catalyst in the creation of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He also developed his own "museum without walls" concept in which he lent his art collection to museums throughout the world. In 1974 his vast collection, considered by many to be the finest private art collection in the world, found a permanent home in Pasadena where it now resides in the Norton Simon Museum—a true masterpiece.

Obviously, most people don't have the deep pockets of a Norton Simon, a Guggenheim, or a Getty, but there are ways to build a significant collection without tons of money. Take for example the classic story of contemporary art collectors Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, a middle class Manhattan couple who have been avidly collecting the most avant-garde art of their time for the past 35 years.

Herbert Vogel is a retired postal clerk who made $16,000 a year and his wife Dorothy was a librarian. In 1965, they befriended the important conceptual artist Sol LeWitt, and after his first show, bought their first piece of art. Early on they decided to use Herb's salary for collecting and Dorothy's to live on. Over the years, they have amassed a collection of over 2,000 pieces by the most important artists of the 70's and 80's including Christo, Warhol, and Tuttle.

Herb Vogel took art history courses and introduced Dorothy to painting after they were married. They both stopped making art because they came to understand that they were better collectors than painters.

Their collecting reflects teamwork although each has a different approach to visiting galleries, museums, and artists' studios. He likes to move slowly and can stand for hours in front of a painting, communing. She walks quickly, makes up her mind about a piece, and moves on. Whatever the method, the objects in their collection were not chosen by consultants or considered "good" because they were expensive, but were the product of the Vogel's unique and personal point of view.

Their tiny one-bedroom apartment is festooned with art which is a result of their excellent and consistent eye for the cutting edge, a reflection of their intellectual journey and their specific sensibility. Each individual piece has more power as part of the collection than it would have on its own. The collection is its own work of art because it creates a context, in this case a specific period in contemporary art, and reflects the collector's concept of what art is.

Not satisfied to just to buy the art, the Vogel's made the art world their life. They made friends with the artists of their time and gave them emotional support, attending gallery openings, exhibitions and events. The art world became their home, enriching their lives visually, intellectually and socially— all on $16,000 a year.

The Vogels have no desire for their passion, their collection, to share the unhappy fate of other exquisite collections—sold at auction for enormous sums but disassembled in the process. While together, these works had been an extension of the collectors' personalities and a reflection of their passion for art and artists. Once the collection was scattered, the collectors' vision and its strength became just a memory.

For this reason the Vogels are gradually giving the National Gallery of Art every piece they have acquired over the years. In return, they receive an annuity, a considerably smaller amount of money than if they had sold the work at auction.

When the Vogels—he is in his seventies, she in her sixties—are gone, their collection will remain together under the stewardship of the National Gallery. It will document a significant period of art making in the United States during the last four decades of the 20th century, and it will also clearly describe the two people who brought that work together.

Now the question is: should YOU consider becoming a serious collector? Here are some things to think about:

Are you willing to keep an open mind and expect the unexpected? Do you look forward to filling your life with visual and intellectual stimulation? Are you amenable to educating your eye and navigating the substantial learning curve involved?

Do you look forward to meeting people–artists, dealers, collectors—who are fascinating, passionate, and often eccentric, but who are typically generous with their time and anxious to help you learn? Do you have a theme in mind for your collection, something that expresses your own vision?

I'm willing to bet the answer is yes.

Being a part of the art world can be a fulfilling addition to your life. Your life will do nothing less than change (but in a good way).

Where to Acquire Art?

You've visited the vast store of riches museums have to offer, wandered through numerous art galleries, perhaps taken an art history course or two and you've gotten a handle on the type of work that speaks to you. You're ready to take the plunge. Now the question is: where do you buy? Let's examine your options.

Commercial Art Galleries

As you know from your preliminary visits, art galleries come in all shapes and sizes, from the highly commercial to the personal, the elegant to the funky. Just as you did when you visited museums, take your time and have a good look around. If something grabs your attention, don't hesitate to ask the gallery staffer about the work. Some valid questions are:
1. Can you tell me something about the artist?
2. What do you know about this particular piece?
3. How much is it?
4. Do you have anything else by this artist?

It is important to see a body of work by the artist so you can differentiate between the mediocre, the merely good and the excellent. Not everything an artist does is wonderful; even Picasso had his bad days. By examining a wide range of an artist's work, you will get a better feel for what is his or her best effort.

Galleries may focus on showcasing established artists or prefer to represent new ones. They may even have a collection of work by departed "masters." When faced with the choice of buying a so-so work of an established artist or a masterpiece by an emerging artist, you're better off buying the best work of the new artist. You always want to acquire the finest the artist has to give.

Keep in mind that a gallery is still a store and the sales staff, sometimes referred to as "art consultants," are there to make a sale. Most work on a commission basis and are trained to mirror your interests and close the sale. There is nothing wrong with saying, "I'm just not ready to buy at this time."

Even if you have taken up a lot of the art consultant's time, do not feel guilty about not making a purchase. Buying a piece of art is a big step, and not just because of the financial outlay. It's like inviting someone into your home—for an extended stay. You have every right to be sure the work of art will benefit your quality of life before you issue the invitation.

If you are not ready to buy, but have established a rapport with an art consultant who has been helpful and patient, the right thing to do is to take that person's card and ask for him or her should you decide to make a purchase later. Remember, most art consultants work on commission, so if you were to return to the gallery and buy from someone else, it would be discourteous and demoralizing to the person who worked hard to gain your business and your trust.

Before visiting galleries be sure to check newspapers and art magazines (a subscription is not a bad idea) which have up-to-date information on current exhibitions. If an artist you favor is having an exhibition, you'll want to attend, for this is an excellent opportunity to view a larger than normal body of the artist's work. Exhibitions also present an opportunity to meet the artist as well as other collectors.

Most galleries have "guest books" for you to sign. This will put you on their mailing list for future shows. There is no need to feel intimidated by attending art openings even if you are a novice. People are relaxed and friendly and share your interests, a good place to start.

Art Dealers

If you think you might like to work with a single person to help you build your collection, a private art dealer can fill that role. Private dealers may be found through ads in arts publications and directories or word of mouth from other collectors. Artist guilds, museum curators and gallery personnel are also good resources for referrals. Most art dealers worked in galleries at one time or another and decided to strike out on their own.

Art dealers are usually art collectors as well and are in the business because of their passion for art. While they don't have gallery space to show an artist's work, they often display art in their own homes. Part of the motivation of being an art dealer is to have the "loan" of work which they might not ordinarily be able to afford.

Art dealers often broker sales between one collector and another, or between an estate and a collector. Many dealers prefer to represent proven artists over new artists because new artists have not yet benefited from gallery exposure, making the dealer's job more difficult.

The advantages to working with a dealer are that you can see the art in a domestic setting and build a friendship with someone knowledgeable who is willing to share that knowledge with you. Once a dealer gets to know you and your tastes, he or she can guide you in building a cohesive collection and provide you with companionship in the art world.

Should you visit a dealer's home (by appointment) and not be enamoured by his or her taste, don't worry, there's no obligation. It's okay to say, "Thank you for your time. It's just not for me."

The Artists Themselves

Many wonderful artists are not affiliated with galleries or dealers but sell directly to collectors instead. This could be because the artist is new and undiscovered, or conversely, because the artist is well established and has a large enough collector base and reputation to allow him or her to disconnect from the middleman. The successful artist probably has a spouse, other family member, or trusted friend to handle business affairs, artists being notoriously (fairly or unfairly) regarded as not doing well in that area.

If an artist is not with a gallery, how do you find him or her? You may cross paths at non-gallery affiliated art shows such as municipal exhibitions, local juried exhibitions at guilds and museums, artist collectives, art school exhibits, fairs, charity fundraisers, and, by chance. Note cards bearing reproductions of an artist's work usually have contact information on the back. Internet searches of artists in your area can also bear fruit.

(Note: It is not ethical to seek out artists whose work you have seen in galleries with the objective of dealing with the artist directly. For the artist to sell to a person who was exposed to his/her work in the gallery first is called "taking the client out the back door," and is a risky practice for artists, with both their reputation and gallery representation on the line. If all artists did this, galleries would be out of business.)

Once you have tracked down an artist whose work interests you, an appointment may be made to visit the artist's studio. The exciting thing about a studio visit is not only do you get to meet the artist and have him or her all to yourself, but you get to see work in progress, and in the artist's own space at that. Valuable insight into the artist's work can result from this experience.

There may be cost savings in dealing directly with the artist as well. With no middleman to pay, the artist can afford to charge the collector less (galleries have overhead, commissions, advertising costs, etc. and take from 40% to 70% of the selling price). If an artist is not established, how much he or she charges for the work can depend on how much money is needed at the time. If the artist hasn't sold in a while, the price could go lower to make the sale. There is a real downside, however. If the pricing on an artist's work is arbitrary and inconsistent then it is difficult to affix a real value to the work and sustain that value over time.

If you have something to offer besides money, emerging artists are sometimes open to trading their work for goods or services. This is especially true if you are yourself an artist or craftsman. Or maybe you are a massage therapist—artists spend a lot of time on their feet and can get aches and pains in their arms and shoulders from holding a brush aloft for long periods. Perhaps you own a boutique with an outstanding collection of vintage Hawaiian shirts or run a fabulous restaurant. Whatever the commodity, once you get to know the artist well enough, you might suggest a trade.

Another way to acquire more of an artist's work once you have established yourself as a collector is to introduce the artist to other collectors. If the artist sells a number of pieces because of you, you just may be rewarded with a painting for your efforts.

In any case, studio visits are fun, singular experiences. The atmosphere is casual, relaxed, and pressure-free. There is the opportunity to get to know someone worth knowing and find something unique and wonderful for your collection with pleasant memories attached.

Other Collectors

For one reason or another, a collector may want or need to divest himself of art. Sellers often advertise in the classified sections of art magazines or newspapers. Sometimes they make the rounds at art shows in order to establish contact with other collectors. They might put the art up for bid on or seek representation by a dealer. This is called the "secondary market" and refers to the reselling of art.

If a collector is selling because he or she wishes to make a profit on investment, it is unlikely you will get a bargain. If, however, the collector is in financial trouble, you might get a great deal. A good practice is to always apply the principles of evaluation (which will be discussed in another section) no matter where you purchase the art. Don't assume anything.

When buying on the secondary market you should pay close attention to the condition of the art. This is especially true for prints and other fragile works on paper. It is not a good idea to buy work sight unseen without adequate safeguards, no matter how good the price. If you are dissatisfied, you may have little chance of getting your money back.

You should also insist on documentation, whether the work is an oil on canvas or a graphic. Provenance is essential to a collector. We will discuss this at length in the section on documentation.

Non-gallery Affiliated Shows and Exhibitions

This could be an art show sponsored by a city or county and held in a municipal building. It could be an exhibition of student work at a local college or university. An art dealer might mount a show in a hotel lobby, showcasing his or her stable of artists, built perhaps around a particular theme. Many cities and towns boast "artist colonies" that hold street fairs featuring arts and crafts.

You get the picture. These are excellent places to see diverse kinds of work and prices are usually affordable. If you are looking for emerging artists and want to get in on the ground floor of an artist's career, these exhibitions are great hunting grounds.

Several artists may be included in an exhibition. Consequently, each artist may have only one, two or three pieces in the show. This does not give you enough exposure to an artist's work to judge the relative quality of a particular piece. Sometimes artists carry portfolios containing photographs of their other work. This can be helpful in determining if the artist is for you. It is, however, no substitute for seeing the art in person. If you are interested in an artist's work, it's a good idea to arrange a studio visit if possible.

The Internet

The internet is a great place to conduct a search if you know exactly what you are looking for, i.e. 19th century Japanese woodblock prints, and have had direct exposure to them in the past. It is not a good idea, however, to purchase art online if you have not seen the artist's work in person before.

Exercise caution when buying art on the net, just like you would in buying any other high ticket item. Make sure safeguards are in place (i.e. credit card purchase with a buyer satisfaction clause; verifiable testimonials from other satisfied customers) to make sure you don't get burned.


Auctions are not good places for the beginning collector. Only an experienced collector who has a handle on current market values should partake. He or she is aware of the fluctuations in the art market and the variables that effect market valuations. Often thousands of dollars (even millions) are at stake and the experienced collector knows the factors that determine the value of a given work—its condition, whether or not it's been restored and the extent of the restoration; when in the artist's career the work was created and if collectors are favorably disposed toward the artist's work at this point in time.

Bidding is a specialized skill, learned over time, and with much observation. Savvy collectors attend pre-auction viewings and talk with other people. They closely examine the condition of the work in which they are interested and, in the case of a framed print, may even ask to see the piece out of the frame to determine its condition. The lesson is—never bid on anything at auction unless you are certain about its condition and its value.

The beginning collector is on pretty safe ground at small country auctions where there is little chance of getting burned. Not so the big auctions. The danger for the novice is that it's far too easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment and buy on impulse. The beginner's best bet is to go to the big auctions only as a spectator.

Estate Sales

At estate sales and even garden variety yard sales serendipity can come into play. We've all seen that someone on Antiques Road Show whose mother bought a folk painting or some such at an estate sale for $10 that turned out to be early American primitive worth thousands.

Odds are you won't find something of such great value for a pittance, but can it happen? Yes, indeed. It's sort of like buying a lottery ticket. It's fun, and you probably won't win, but there is a chance, albeit a small one, that you will.

The only problem with estate and yard sales is you have to buy the item then and there. There is no time for evaluation and research. You have to go with your instincts.

Yes, by all means prowl estate and yard sales as part of your quest. Prices are traditionally low, so a purchase won't break the bank. You might even get lucky.

Art Collection Software-Keeping it Simple

     What is the best way to manage your art collection and what is the best software for your art collection?  Clearly this is a personal thing but there is always some functionality that you want to have included and other features that you may not need at all.   There is a big difference between what a single collector needs and what a museum or gallery needs.

     For example, if you are a collector you may just want to have a system that tracks your art and its value, has many photos of each piece and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, is complete enough to convince an insurance company, in the event of a catastrophic loss, to pay you what it is worth.  As a collector you might also want to be able to print a portfolio of your collection for any number of occasions.  You might want to keep a bio on each of the artists that you collect.  On the other hand, if you are a large museum or gallery where you need to manage a lot more details than the average collector, you may want to have things like accounting functions built in.   As a collector, accounting features are generally unnecessary and overkill.  Why pay hundreds of dollars more for features and functionality you do not need?
     From my perspective the key element for a collector is to not over pay or get over featured with things you do not want or need, because that may make the whole experience of documenting your art collection more of a hassle than an enjoyable escapade.  This is why My Art Collection's motto has always been "keep it simple."  Personally I really dislike overcomplicated software. I say this because if the software is difficult to use, I probably won't use it even if I have already paid for it.  WIth My Art Collection you can try it before you buy it.

     When you consider the wide range of pricing that various software's like My Art Collection and others offer, it really becomes an issue of "what do I really need, and how much do I have to pay for it?"  

     My Art Collection starts at $199 for a standard version, $249 for an advanced version and Systems that start at $499 for professional versions that can be used in local area networks by multiple users.  Currently we have a coupon code that will give you 10% off the cost of any of our systems.  Use the code "artbook"

     I always say, keep a record of your art collection, make sure it has visual as well as technical data and keep it up to date.  You'll be happy you did.


The Art of Sculpture

Sculpture dates back to prehistoric times and may even pre-date cave painting. Thousands of years ago, ancient man created carvings of female fertility figures in stone and ivory. Like the paintings on cave walls the figures were very stylized and look to our eyes, primitive and yet modern.
Today as in ancient times, sculptors think and work in three-dimensions. Sculptures are meant to be touched (though museum signs will advice you to the contrary—"do not touch," they say!). It is a pleasure to "see with your hands," exploring sleek surfaces, or bumpy, jagged ones. Sculpture is sensual.

A few years ago I had a customer come into the gallery who became interested in a collection of small bronze sculptures of marine life. The artist had created a jewel of a series depicting dolphins, turtles, swordfish and whales. In our gallery we encouraged the customers to touch the work, to enjoy the smooth coolness of the bronze. I noticed that the gentleman would close his eyes as he touched each of the pieces and run his hand slowly over them, feeling their contours. He finally said, "I'll take the marlin." He later explained that he was buying the piece for his daughter, who was blind.

The popularity of marine sculpture here in Hawaii has mirrored the popularity of marine painting just as movements in sculpture have traditionally reflected movements in painting through the centuries. The break with traditional painting in the latter part of the 19th century which marked the beginnings of modern art was also reflected in sculpture. In fact, many sculptors turned to painting and vice-versa. Painters such as Degas and Picasso were superb sculptors, and sculptors such as Giacometti and Moore also painted.

Like painters, sculptors who carve works out of wood or stone can only make one piece at a time. As there are multiple editions of prints, multiple editions of sculptures can be created if a mold is made and the piece is cast in bronze. Rodin, the greatest influence on 20th century sculpture, created multiple editions of his work by doing this. It's confusing, but here's how it's done.

The sculptor creates the original piece which is usually carved in clay. Once the clay has hardened, the piece must be taken to a bronze foundry to continue the process. A mold of the piece is made by coating the clay with liquid rubber. Once the rubber has dried, the mold is removed from the clay sculpture and voila, you have a "negative" of the original piece.

The interior of this mold is coated with liquid wax. Once the wax has hardened it is removed from the mold and you now have a hollow "positive" of the clay sculpture. This wax positive is filled with a wet substance akin to Plaster of Paris called an "investment" and placed into a heat-proof box with holes bored through the investment to the surface of the wax. The piece is buried in investment as well. When the investment has dried and hardened the object is heated and the wax runs out of the holes. Bronze is poured into the empty space formerly occupied by the wax. Once the bronze is cooled and has solidified, the investment is broken away.

Through this "lost wax" process any number of exact replicas of the original clay sculpture can be produced, albeit one at a time. The sculptor must develop a close working relationship with the foundry to produce desired results and is intimately involved in the casting process. It is labor intensive and costly for the sculptor to reproduce his/her work in bronze.

Once the piece has been cast, it must be sanded and buffed and a protective patina applied to keep the bronze from corroding. Nowadays, patinas come in a variety of colors and combinations that are the result of experimentation by the sculptor with a variety of chemicals combined with heat.

The sculptor decides what the size of an edition will be. The piece's number in the edition along with the edition size is etched into the sculpture (i.e., 3/10 means this piece is the 3rd produced in an edition of 10) along with the sculptor's signature. The practice of signing sculpture was created in the 20th century so you probably won't find the sculptor's name on a piece that was created before then.

Just as there have been forgeries in painting, even more so there have been forgeries in sculpture. A sculptor will limit an edition size because the clay original and mold are fragile and deteriorate with use resulting in an inferior casting. An unscrupulous foundry could make unauthorized copies of the sculpture. Always check the provenance when buying a piece of sculpture by a deceased sculptor and insist on a certificate of authenticity. As you would in buying prints or paintings, only buy from reputable and trustworthy dealers.

Today, not all castings are done in bronze. Aluminum, chromium, steel and Lucite are modern alternatives, but the essential process still remains the same. Contemporary artists also experiment with all manner of materials such as sheet metal, scrap metal, wire, plastic, papier maché, ceramic, you name it. Nowadays, anything goes.

About display - Unless a sculpture is meant to be a wall piece such as a bas-relief, the sculptor has worked in the round. It is preferable if you can view it in the round as well. By placing the sculpture in a place where you can walk around it 360 degrees you can enjoy the piece from all angles, or a mirror strategically placed behind a sculpture will enable you to see the back of the piece. Also, a specially designed sculpture stand or pedestal with a rotating "Lazy Susan" is an attractive and functional way to display a piece of sculpture.

Lately, "sculpture gardens" have become increasingly popular. Sculptures in stone, wood, bronze, ceramic or even glass are woven into the landscape adorning gardens and "outdoor rooms." Some works, especially those of monumental size, are specifically created to live outdoors. Remember, should you choose to display a bronze or wood sculpture outdoors, you can expect it to "weather." Over time, the surface of the bronze sculpture will come to resemble that of the general on horseback in the park.
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