Realizing a Lifelong Dream

How To Start A Contemporary Art Collection

The idea of starting a contemporary art collection can feel initially intimidating. However, there are several things you can do to get the ball rolling. A contemporary art dealer will tell you to try the following six things. 

Search the Internet for Contemporary Art

Your goal at this point isn't to identify something you wish to buy. Instead, you'll want to get a sense of what the general contemporary vibe is.

Broadly speaking, contemporary art covers pieces created in the late 20th or early 21st Centuries. Typically, it emphasizes forms over realistic representations. If you look at a Mark Bradford painting, for example, you might initially be overcome by the extensive use of small and abstract forms to build a larger composition. Not all contemporary art is abstract, though. Illustrative and even semi-photographic representations are common in many works, such as nearly everything from Banksy.

Visit Galleries with Contemporary Collections

Take the time to stop by a few museums or galleries that offer contemporary collections. You may be surprised by the difference between seeing a piece on the internet versus in person. Think about how colors, forms, and textures play in different compositions.

Take Notes

Ultimately, you want to be able to ask a contemporary art dealer about artists, styles, and works that connect with you. When you see something that clicks for you emotionally or intellectually, make a note of the artist, the style, and even the medium.

Buy a Contemporary Art Print

Most people probably aren't going to start a collection by purchasing a sculpture that's bigger than an SUV. There is nothing wrong with buying something small and relatively inexpensive. A contemporary art print is often a good entry-level piece for a collection. This also mitigates financial risks associated with authenticity because you won't be buying the biggest and priciest thing on the market.

Allow a Theme to Emerge

Especially if you're not sure what your collection should look like or have for common themes, you may want to allow the theme to emerge. You might notice the colors of a piece work very nicely in a particular room and want to expand upon the theme.

Hear feedback from people who see your early pieces. Someone might suggest a related artist's work you hadn't considered, for example.

Keep Looking

New contemporary art appears every day, and the key to building a great collection is to be aware. Check out openings. Speak with a contemporary art dealer. Look at collections in galleries, office buildings, and other people's homes. Stay open to discovery and novelty so you can seize the opportunity when the next thing speaks to you.