Paige West at the Corcoran

The Art of Buying Art
On January 17th, Paige West presented a discussion at the Corcoran Art Museum in Washington DC, on the hows and whys of collecting contemporary art.  Paige is the owner of the Mixed Greens Art Gallery in New York City and recently published a great book titled The Art of Buying Art: An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Contemporary Art.

I found her discussion well thought out and she provided some excellent guidance. Paige talked about some of her experiences with buying art; she was down to earth and not the least bit stuffy.  It was apparent that Paige  loves art for art’s sake and she deosnt’ view it as a commodity or an investment.  She talked about buying art that you can afford and stressed buying what you love!  She also talked about avoiding the mistake of buying art based on anticipated increase in value. 

Here are some of my notes from the discussion:

Paige West signing my book

Paige West signing my book

If you are new to collecting art, get educated before you buy.  That doesn’t mean you need a MFA, it simply means learn what is available out there.  Learn what you like and don’t like, figure out what draws you to the piece.  Good art is involved in conversations, many folks discuss art, critics collectors curators artist etc.  Try to meet others who share your interest and learn from them.

Paige talked about how a group- whether it’s a museum, a celebrated collector or a group of collectors supporting a museum can affect the availability and consequently, the price of an artist’s work.  She cited the work of Anna Gaskell as an example.  Anna’s work was purchased by a collectors group associated with the Guggenheim Museum.  It instantly impacted the price points of her work.  She gave similar examples about Cecili Brown and Kehinde Wiley.  And she discussed how a well known collector such as Saatchi can significantly affect the value of an artists work once it’s known that they have purchased an artist’s work. 

Her point was that a newer collector should stay away from the folks who star is at its apex; most of the work is very expensive and out of reach of many of us.  She steered us towards considering artists who are emerging and are extremely talented.

She presented some works by new artists that she called ‘material witneses’.  She liked them because of their use of interesting materials in creating their art.  Several of the artists were represented by Paige’s gallery Mixed Greens but many were not.

Of those she discussed, I particularly loved Yuken Teruya’s beautiful reused paper shopping bags.  They were delicate and wonderfully unique.  She also discussed the following artists: Adam Cvijanovic, Eric Doeringer, Eve Sussnan, Lee Stoetzel, Mikalene Thomas, Rob Conger, Ivan Navarro and Vin Muniz.

Paige played a 2 minute partial clip of an Eve Sussman Video.  Eve’s video which recreated the scene of the Diego Velázquez painting Las Meninas was amazing.  I am not a great fan of video art but I was drooling over how lush this was.  Between seeing this and a Judy Chicago “smoke” video at the National Museum of Woman in the Arts Museum during the “WACK” show, I am starting to reconsider my opinion on the medium of video art. I found Sussman’s video beautiful and profoundly moving.

Art Fairs

Paige said that art fairs are a great place to see art.  If you are serious about buying, she recommended attending either the first day, or if you were interesting in asking for discounts, to attend on the last day.  She mentioned the Armory show in NYC, Miami Basel, Basel, and the London Art Fair.  I would add ArtDC onto this list since it’s a local event that drew a significant number of overseas and US based galleries.  The price points for the Armory, Miami Basel and Basel are fairly steep; but Paige stated there are quite a few shows that also pop up around the larger shows.  She stated that the smaller fairs such as Nada, Pulse, Scoop and Zoo at the London Art Fair have great art that is more reasonable.

She mentioned several interesting websites associated with art collecting, NewArtTV, Artivi, and the Phillips Aution House art expert Simon to help you become more educated in your search for artwork to collect and purchase.

Paige mentioned several sources for affordable art: Jen Bekman’s 20×200TinyShowcase, Cinders, the Lower East Side Print Shop, and FAAN.

Recommended Buy List

Paige gave a recommended buy list.  There are the artist she mentioned: Joesph Smolinski, Jason Rogenss ,  Kristen Hassenfeld, Sangbim Im, Amy Stein, Christina Seely, Butt Johnson, Zoe Charlton , Larissa Bates, Nima Katchadourian, Andreas Gefeller, Junebaum Park, Jill Greenberg, and Alison Jackson. 

She also recommended some local DC galleries: The Curator’s Office, District Fine Arts, G Fine Art, Adamson Gallery, Hemphill Fine Art, Transformer, Irving contemporary, Civilian Art Projects, and Project Four. 


Hello Botticelli by Leslie Holt

Hello Botticelli by Leslie Holt

I’ve purchased several small works on paper by Andrew Moon and one small oil paintings by Leslie Holt titled Hello Botticelli through Andrea Pollan’s Curator’s Office Gallery during the ArtDC event last year. 

Last weekend I purchased two additional paintings by Leselie Holt, Hello

Hello Van Gogh (Self Portrait), by Leslie Holt

Hello Van Gogh (Self Portrait), by Leslie Holt

Van Gogh (self Portrait) and Hello Olympia.  Andrea is freindly and very helpful gallery, I strongly recommend her gallery! 

I would also recommend as an additional site for affordable art as well as dailypainters a website devoted to artists who are commited to painting one painting a day. Also consider works by Duane Keiser (founder of the Painting a Day movement) and Michelle Tully.    Although I’ve found the work at daily painters rather hit or miss for my particular tastes, there is a wide variety of works available and all of it is very affordable.

Here is a link to a posting I wrote in August 2007 about collecting art.