Chapter 6 - 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.
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.