THE ART OF BUYING ART
New Edition, Revised, Enlarged, Updated
by Alan Bamberger
Note on the New Edition: The entirely revised, updated and expanded 2018 edition of The Art of Buying Art by Alan Bamberger is a step-by-step manual for buying or collecting any kind of art with confidence. The book guides readers from first contact with a work of art right through to final purchase. Whether you're an experienced buyer or are just starting out, if you like art enough to want to own it, this book is for you.
Part I: DEFINE
Chapter 1: Anyone Can Master the Art of Buying Art
The opening chapter briefly outlines The Art of Buying Art method and goals, and introduces the four main steps in progressing from looker to buyer to owner-- "Define," "Select," "Research," and "Buy."
Chapter 2: Original Works of Art Versus Reproductions
The fine art marketplace is complicated and hard to understand if you don't know your way around. It's full of products that look and sound like original art, but are actually reproductions, and no more original than magazine illustrations. This chapter explains what makes a work of art original and talks about how to tell the difference between original works of art and reproductions or copies.
Chapter 3: Discover the Art World
Before you can identify out what kinds of art you really like, you have to set aside any preconceived notions you have about art and art collecting and approach the marketplace with a completely open mind. That way, you can explore and discover the vast variety of art that's available for sale, respond to it without any interference, and begin to focus in on your preferences.
Chapter 4: Define What You Like
Learn how to describe the art you like most in terms that help dealers and other fine arts professionals pinpoint your collecting tastes, find art for your that fits within your budget, and present you with the best pieces for viewing and possible purchase.
Part II: SELECT
Chapter 5: Who Says It, What They Say, and How to Take It
The art world is overflowing with opinions about what to collect, how to collect, who's hot, who's not, what to buy, where to buy it, and how much to pay. This chapter helps you to understand, digest, analyze, and either act on or ignore whatever art people tell you.
Chapter 6: Comparison Shopping for Art
Shopping for art is like shopping for any other product-- you can find it for sale at lots of places and lots of prices. No matter what kinds or types of art interest you, you have to know who sells it and where it's sold in order to get the best quality and value for your money. Learn how to locate and compare the various physical locations and online options for buying your favorite art.
Chapter 7: Dealer Dealings
Art dealers and art galleries are a fact of the art business. Finding the best art means learning who the best most qualified dealers are, and understanding how to interact, communicate, and negotiate with them. Get basic pointers on art dealer etiquette, how to spot the best dealers, who to trust, and who to watch out for.
Chapter 8: Insider Tips on Art Galleries and Their Websites
Art galleries can be intimidating places for the uninitiated, and gallery websites can be confusing as well. This chapter helps reduce your art gallery anxieties by describing and explaining the physical characteristics of art gallery interiors and how to navigate their websites. You also learn to make qualitative assessments based on what you see at particular galleries.
Chapter 9: How to Be a Good Customer
The best customers get the best art for their collections-- that's all there is to it. Learn how to favorably position yourself in the art market hierarchy in order to get special considerations when fresh new art comes onto the market.
Chapter 10: Buying Art Directly From Artists
Buying directly from artists is very different than buying from dealers. Learn what those differences are and how to proceed when the artist is also the seller.
Chapter 11: Buying From Online Galleries and Websites
Buying art online is the future of collecting. Learn basic facts about how online art buying works, how it differs from buying art in traditional ways at physical locations, and how to progress from looking at art for sale to locating art you like, and considering specific pieces for possible purchase.
Chapter 12: How Not to Buy Art
This chapter, perhaps one of the most important chapters in the book, summarizes common art buying mistakes and talks about how to avoid making them.
Part III: RESEARCH
Chapter 13: Research the Artist
Knowing how to locate and evaluate information about art and artists is the cornerstone of intelligent buying and collecting. In this chapter, you learn how to gather and analyze data about any artist's career accomplishments.
Chapter 14: Research the Art
Every piece of art can be evaluated in terms of its basic physical characteristics. This chapter defines those characteristics and explains how they impact a work of art's value and desirability.
Chapter 15: Certificates of Authenticity and Appraisals
Two of the most important, least understood, and most abused documents in the art business are the certificate of authenticity (or COA) and the appraisal. Here you will learn what constitutes a valid COA and a valid appraisal, and how to recognize meaningless, problematic, or inadequate ones.
Chapter 16: Provenance is Profit
The ownership history of a work of art often affects its value and collectibility. Learn how to piece together an artwork's history, evaluate it, document it, and maintain proper files on every work of art you own.
Chapter 17: Art and Damage
Experienced collectors prefer works of art in perfect condition and not susceptible to problems in the future. This chapter talks about how to spot damage and potential condition problems, how condition affects value, and how to care for works of art so that they don't degrade or deteriorate over time.
Chapter 18: Forgers, Fakes, and Scams
Forgeries, scams, and misrepresentations are a small but significant part of the art business. Learn about different types of forgeries, how forgers operate, how to spot questionable works of art, how art can be misrepresented, how to recognize questionable sales practices, and how to avoid being taken advantage of.
Part IV: BUY
Chapter 19: The Economics of Art: An Introduction
This chapter explains the relationship between art and money, and addresses topics like liquidity of art, art as investment, the different ways to value art, and why art prices fluctuate.
Chapter 20: More Facts About Art and Money
The markets for various types of art are affected factors like stability, longevity, supply, demand, how accomplished artists are, how broad collector bases are, fashion, taste, publicity, and what influential art professionals do and say. This chapter compares various segments of the art market to certain types of equities in order to help clarify how value, collectibility, salability, and significance of those art market segments fluctuate over time.
Chapter 21: Evaluate the Asking Price
Every work of art for sale has an asking price. This chapter focuses on how to evaluate the fairness of that price. Learn what to ask sellers about art prices, and how to use art price references to locate relevant sales records, track an artist's sales history, analyze price data, and assess an artist's or type of art's potential in the marketplace.
Chapter 22: Negotiate the Buy
Art prices are often flexible. Make sure you understand basic negotiating etiquette and appropriate ways to proceed when you want to pay less than a work of art's asking price.
Chapter 23: Make the Buy
This chapter talks about payment options, documentation procedures, return and exchange policies, consummating sales, and how to make sure you get what you pay for.
Chapter 24: Buying Art at Traditional Auctions
Auction buying basics are placed near the end of this book because that's when novice art buyers should consider the auction option. Learn about the differences between auctions and galleries, why people buy at auctions, common misconceptions about auctions, auction plus and minus points, risks of buying at auction, and how to buy right at auction.
Chapter 25: Buying Art at Online Auctions
Online auctions present an entirely different set of circumstances for buyers than do their bricks-and-mortar counterparts, such as not being able to physically inspect the merchandise before you bid on it. This chapter focuses on how to evaluate online auction descriptions and images of art, how to communicate with sellers, what questions to ask, when to request additional information, how to make sure items are properly represented, and how to bid and buy wisely.
Chapter 26: Building a Collection
With any important collection, the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. Learn what makes a collection great, collection development basics, how one work of art can enhance the value of another, and how to select pieces that maximize the individual and overall values of the art that you already own.
Major International Art Fairs
Internet Art Resources
Art Annuals and Directories
Significant Auction Houses
Art Dealer Associations
Art Reference Booksellers
Online Artist Research Tips and Techniques
(photography by Cara Barer)
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