Given the enthusiasm for buying things you love that last, it’s no wonder there is a strong interest among younger generations to invest in something unique and characterful that hasn’t been mass-produced.
But the art world is having a hard time shaking off its elitist reputation. So if the thought of attending an art fair fills you with a nagging feeling of imposter syndrome, you’re not alone.
However, London Art Fair Director Sarah Monk has assured us that of the 100+ global galleries exhibiting this year, a good selection will offer modern and contemporary pieces, catering to collectors of all skill levels and a wide range of budgets .
Everyone is welcome, she affirms, and all gallerists are happy to speak to established and emerging collectors alike, particularly about their exciting range of emerging artists – defined as young or still relatively undervalued contemporary artists.
Personalities such as Charlotte Keates, who paints beautiful interiors reminiscent of the fashionable geometry of the design of the sixties and seventies, and Athena Anastasiou, who combines color and textiles to expand her paintings beyond their canvases, are just waiting to be hailed by everyone to be spotted who has an eye for fresh talent.
Don’t assume you can’t afford anything
Yes, this 34th edition of the London Art Fair will feature work by the world-famous – and incredibly expensive – like Pablo Picasso, David Hockney, Bridget Riley and Joan Miró, but there’s plenty more on offer. Don’t assume you’ll be there go empty-handed if your budget doesn’t reach the stratosphere.
The London Art Fair prides itself on offering a variety of artworks at a variety of prices, including entry-level prices, as well as helpful support for first-time buyers in the form of online talks (there’s one on collecting and curating art for the home, moderated). by freelance interior designer Mary Weaver) and informative tours of the exhibiting galleries.
“This isn’t just for serious collectors who are spending thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds,” says Monk. “It’s also for the people who are wondering if they can afford something – and the good news is that there is.”
“To attempt Jealous Gallerya popular London-based gallery selling limited edition prints for under £300, and Kittoe Contemporaryoffering the amazing painting from as little as £350.
There’s also the Wilder Gallery, which champions emerging female artists and is itself a new gallery that opened during the first Covid lockdown of 2020. They have dedicated their entire space at the fair to Amy Beager, who reinvents figurative painting with her bold color juxtapositions.
From £500, her new collection explores and celebrates ideas of love, desire, longing, transformation, rebirth and imagination.
Buy what you love
Investments, including in art, will always be at the mercy of the markets, so a hefty return is by no means a matter of course. monk’s advice? First and foremost, buy what you love.
“A lifetime appreciation of a work of art you love can never be a failure,” she says. “Also, every time you buy art, you are investing in the individual artist who created it. They finance them professionally and allow them to develop and grow.
“Collectors love to develop a relationship with an artist early in their career and follow their journey as they develop.”
Thinking about investments? Start building relationships
If your interest in art is motivated, at least in part, by money, develop good relationships with gallery owners who exhibit the type of art you are interested in so that you can delve into the backgrounds of their artists.
Monk suggests asking the dealers what made them identify a particular artist as someone they wanted to champion. What about her story and her work fueled her own passion?
“Gallery owners naturally want to sell their artists’ wares, but they are also great mentors and nurturers of talent who can share valuable insights,” she says.
“Find out what past exhibitions an artist has been involved in and ask if they are in any notable collections. If they are more established in their careers, check if they have appeared in exhibitions at major institutions or public galleries.”
Don’t be a slave to trends
Trends in the art world are as ephemeral as any other field, so be careful not to jump on the bandwagon. Instead, think about what makes an artist you’re attracted to unique and why you’ll remember them. Because ultimately, buying art, whether for personal or investment reasons, is about an initial – and lasting – connection.
One of Monk’s memorable favorites from the London Art Fair’s emerging group is a Paris-born Belgian-Congolese artist named Tiffanie Delune, who creates eclectic pieces on cotton canvas, mixing dreams and travel memories with symbols of her multiracial family.
“Tiffany has a solo show with Ed Cross Fine Art, who often advocates for underrepresented artists,” she says. “Her unusual story – she is self-taught – and her beautiful paintings are immediately compelling.”
NFTs are trending, but paper is still king
As might be expected, given the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the act of buying art has become much less impersonal over the past two years. Consequently, there is now a lot of fuss surrounding digital art and NFTs (Baffled? Read our handy explainer).
In response, however, Monk has also noticed a growing appetite for physical art and the personal, shared experience of visiting a gallery. “Most collectors still buy paintings, drawings and sculptures, with works on paper remaining dominant and being taken to new experimental heights,” she says.
There are no NFTs for sale at this year’s London Art Fair, but the 2022 program includes several talks about the colliding worlds of art and technology, so it’s certainly moving with the times.
“One of the things people love most about the art world is that it’s always been controversial,” says Monk. “Trends come and go, but it’s great to be able to discuss these new areas and show that we reflect and participate in the current discussion.”
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
When you attend your first art fair, rest assured that no question is too silly.
“Our gallery owners are real experts in their field,” says Monk. “They are very passionate and knowledgeable in their field.
“One of the reasons why the London Art Fair is so successful is that galleries welcome the opportunity to connect with a community of art lovers and collectors, talk about their artists and introduce new names. So make your questions free.”
Buying online is much safer than it used to be
You can’t beat the experience of seeing art in real life, but the pandemic has forced galleries to become more digitally savvy. Most have now developed secure, user-friendly websites and social media platforms that allow online purchases.
Many galleries are now sharing videos of their artists working in their studios to give collectors a better sense of who they are, and the London Art Fair website allows viewers to zoom in very closely to examine and view the surface of any artwork on display see color and texture come to life.
Monk is keen to scream Artscapy, a new digital art collecting platform that provides a trusted environment to discover and buy quality art. Every artwork put up for sale undergoes due diligence to ensure security and transparency, backed by certificates of authenticity and provenance on blockchain.
“This means that if a collector is based overseas or otherwise unable to make the trip to London, there are still opportunities to fall in love with something in our showrooms, connect with the galleries and find a new home for the artwork give,” she says.
“Buying online can definitely complement visiting galleries and art fairs physically.”
The London Art Fair returns to Islington’s Business Design Center from 20th to 24th April 2022.