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Think like a curator, buy like a collector

3 tips to start collecting

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It cannot be denied that the world of art is extremely interesting. And it becomes even more fascinating when it is something that becomes part of your daily life and not just something you occasionally enjoy when you happen to be invited to the opening of an exhibition where a friend of a friend of a friend presents an artwork.

I think we've all been in a similar situation where we like what we see, but we don't know how to make it ours. We admire it from a distance, and we admire it for the brief hours we spend at the art show.

We think that art is something experienced in short moments, but in reality, we can make art a constant element in our lives. And to do so, we need to think like a curator and buy like a collector.

Here are 3 tips to start an art collection:

1. Know, explore, and discover art:

The first thing to do is to define what we like. Buying an artwork just because our friend loves that artist when we have no connection to the piece is not the way to start collecting. But if we only know our friend's artist, we can't define what we actually like.

So, visit exhibitions, openings, and art events, and follow artists on social media to gradually define your preferences. Curators often specialize in a specific style, movement, technique, theme, discourse, or medium, which helps them focus their research and curatorial projects. In your case, the more art and artists you know, the easier it will be to give direction to your collection, providing a starting point to look for artworks, just like curators do. 

2. Don't be intimidated to ask about art:

We are used to not talking and not touching anything when we go to an art museum, but visiting an art gallery or a fair is very different because in these places, we don't have exhibit labels like in museums and we may have many questions about what we are seeing. 

Sometimes, entering a gallery can be intimidating, and when we finally do, we limit ourselves to viewing the exhibited works as we do in a museum. The significant difference is that in galleries, we only find a short text, two to three paragraphs, revealing only a part of the exhibition, we don't have a label next to each piece that explains even more. 

This is why we need to overcome shyness and ask about the artworks, especially if it's something we're interested in acquiring. Some questions to ask the gallerist, curator, or representative include:

  • How many years has this artist been producing art? - This can tell us more about their career, whether they are an emerging, mid-career, or established artist.

  • Has the artist always worked on the same themes or used the same mediums? - Answering this question will tell us if the artist is multidisciplinary, and we can find out if we are interested in exploring other branches of their production.

  • What are the prices of the pieces? - This is the question that might be the most frightening and could make us feel uncomfortable. However, it is the most important. All collectors, whether novice or expert, have a budget for buying new pieces, so we can't start the collection without knowing the price range.

Asking these questions will lead to many more, but that's exactly what we want; we want to know more about the artwork, about the piece we are about to buy. A good collector knows everything about the work in their home; in other words, they become their own curator.

3. Surround yourself with professionals who know how the market works:

Another crucial point is that art is enjoyed more when you are surrounded by people who can contribute more. Even the most experienced collectors surround themselves with people who invite them to openings and exhibitions; they surround themselves with curators who share articles and texts about artists; they visit artists' studios to see them work and see the artworks in person. They surround themselves with people who know inside out every step of this process, ensuring they meet all the requirements involved in buying a piece of art.

For this reason, art advisors exist; they are your allies in this magnificent art world. It is our responsibility as collectors to have people in our corner who can help us not only make a good purchase but also make a good sale.

Today, one of the most beloved museums in Mexico City is the Jumex Museum, but we wouldn't have this museum if Eugenio López Alonso hadn't taken these first steps.

If you are interested in taking the first step as a collector, we invite you to the next Curatorial Experience: Art Week Tour CDMX, from February 7 to 10, 2024. Download the complete itinerary here; we look forward to seeing you!

Art good to think | Art good to buy. 


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