How to recognize good art?

What kind of art is noteworthy? What elements should be taken under consideration when buying art? – here are some pieces of advice, prepared by Anita Wolszczak from Art in House Auction House.

Investing in art, above all, should be a pleasure; it doesn’t matter if we create a collection or treat it as a one-time purchase. While choosing a painting, rely on your own taste – decoration of an area, where we live, simply ought to please ourselves. Beside this most essential value, there are measurable aspects, which we suggest to think through in a second step.

Although creating an art collection might be associated with spending a fortune, it’s not entirely true. With appropriate recognition and focusing on Young Art, it’s possible to buy numerous works for reasonable price.


Gather information about an Artist

If some piece of art appeals to ourselves, it is worth to acquaint with artistic biography of its creator. Attention should also be given to:

  • Artist’s education
  • Prices of his work
  • Style
  • Presence on the market

Usually, works of artists associated with Academies of Fine Arts or other artistic schools, are more marketable and can be considered as better capital investment. However, this is not the rule. You can find both talented and techniqually unskilled artist among self-taughts and artistically educated people. Therefore, a more reliable measure is not the artistic education so much as the artist’s participation in the competitions, awards and number of organized exhibition. If artist’s biogram includes such points, it means he takes care of his name recognition on the market, and his art is valued by experts.

It’s also good to investigate, what price his earlier works were sold for. This kind of information can be found using search engine on art market web sites or by direct contact with auction houses. Thanks to them, it is possible to avoid overpayment or to check, if artist’s works are desirable pieces of art. Large catalogue of sold products guarantees easy way to sell it in the future. We suggest keeping track of those kind of data in several years to see, how demand and popularity of a painter would rise and fall.

Price estimation become easier, when object of our interest belongs to an artistic series. Usually, works from one series obtain similar price. Yet, it is not a rule, and that’s why it’s good to be sceptical about it and treat your analysis not so serious.

A lot of artists creates characteristic style overtime, which can be helpful in making an attribution and, at the same time, it can become a sort of artistic birthmark. Due to the fact, that final effect is an expression of an artist himself, it should be distinguishing.

Frequently we can notice a situation, when artworks created by one artist flood the market: they appear at every auction house, art gallery and also can be bought at online auctions (many specialised websites monitoring the artmarket can keep us updated on artist’s auction results), and, what’s more, starting bids can be between 100 PLN to 1500 PLN. A situation like that is troublesome for two reasons: on the one hand, it acknowledges the increasing popularity of a master; on the other – it shows the incompatible action plan when it comes to the art buyers and keeping the prices on the same level. Of course, for some of the clients, it can be a great occasion to buy good piece of art for a low price.

How to judge the painting?

In order to judge art, first of all, we have to see it in real life and space: in art galleries and auction houses during art exhibitions. Photos presented in the Internet or paper catalogues can be a far cry from real ones, hiding important nuances like texture and shine.

While standing in front of the artwork, we should have a second look on it: our observation has to be carefully conducted both from a distance and closely. Looking from afar helps us to see the mixture of colors and overall composition; in turn, a closer look allows us to notice the texture and brush marks (they are consider to be the artist’s “traces”). We also suggest paying a great attention to the technical precision, correct proportions and sticking to the rules of perspective. Price ought to be adequate to the quality of elements mentioned above, the size of an artwork and technique used by a painter or sculptor. Typically, oil and acrylic paintings on canvas are valued more than watercolors, pastels and other artworks on paper.

When standing in front of the painting, try to focus also on yourself and your reactions. What emotions and associations are elicited by an artwork? This matter is entirely subjective: one painting can provoke various recipients’ reactions.

What shall we buy?

In search of artworks, we can visit art galleries, auction houses or artists’ studios.

When it comes to the art gallery, don’t expect that you’ll find a price tag on items – concealing it became a common practise all over the world. Instead of an immediate purchase, we can watch all artworks in peace, talk to an art dealer and return to buy the chosen painting after a period of reflection.

In a row, auctions are one of the most exciting ways to buy art. Usually, all artworks can be seen on pre-sale exhibition or just before the auction starts. While bidding, you have to make a quick decision. Try to keep in mind that if you can’t bid in person, there are three other possibilities: bidding by phone, bidding online and placing an absentee bid.

On the contrary, artist’s studios appear to be the most atmospheric place. Not only we have an occasion to meet an artist himself, but also get acquainted with an „environment” in which  artworks are made and see the other paintings. This option is excellent for those who are keen on concrete artist’s oeuvre and not very interested in other painters or sculptors. Though at least one thing should be taken under your consideration: prices in artists’ studios are much higher that starting bids on auctions.

Who shall we speak to?

If we’re still not confident about which direction should we take regarding our collection of art, the best way to resolve all doubts will be a meeting with an art dealer or auction specialist. Surely, they answer all our questions, advise on the best artistic choice and make reliable estimate of the items we’re interested in.