Who should collect art? A candid conversation.

Who should collect art?

Everyone. Some people drive Teslas. Some people drive BMW’s. I drove a teal 1996 Ford Escort LX station wagon through college and my early days in Manhattan while working at the Met, then Galerie St. Etienne, then the Met again. I loved it. The seat curved to my ass perfectly and I would crank the hand-rolled windows down smoking cigarettes, planning on being the youngest curator at the Met.

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Some people think that car’s a piece of shit. Who cares? Art is the same way. People have extremely different price points, motivations, and opinions. The experience of really looking at a work of art is a complex. Art Historian T.J. Clark wrote a stupendous book, Sight of Death, entirely about returning to two Pouisson paintings, “Landscape with a Man Killed by a Snake” (National Gallery, London) and the Getty’s “Landscape with a Calm.” He visited the paintings almost daily for a year, documenting his reactions and new elements he notices each time.

A work of art in your home is one you can visit multiple times a day, every day for a lifetime.

Why risk the investment?

When you die, your kids will not want your couch (unless it’s a stunning mid-century Henry Glass walnut settee re-upholstered in leather by your father, like the one I’m having my dad do for the gallery- come sit in it, it will be luscious). A painting, on the other hand, respectfully hanging on your wall, will outlive you. Your children will inherit it. You will bequeath it to a museum. It will teach generations about what life was like when it was made.

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If art can be so cheap, why spend loads of money on it?

For lots of reasons. “Established” and “sophisticated” artists, meaning people who have devoted themselves to their craft and created unique aesthetics, can bring people to tears, induce vomit, and make non-verbal people with dementia speak again. It’s true. I’ve seen all of it.

It takes years to master a technique and more years to develop something truly your own. When an artist earns this clarity of vision, it’s special. And valuable. The “Affordable Art Fair” features work between $100 and $10,000. Medium and size matter. Works on paper are more fragile and require appropriate care like moisture and light control to preserve them. Oil paintings, properly prepped and varnished, have been found on the bottom of oceans, retrieved from shipwrecks. Size matters. Skill matters. Market prices and demand kinda matter. Doing due diligence and checking auction records does inform buying, however it’s not a true reflection of market pricing, as private sales aren’t accounted, and especially doesn’t matter when investing in emerging artists. If the artist is alive or deceased matters. Different areas of the country matter, as cost of living varies wildly and artists need to buy microwaves AND pay rent. Material matters. Oil paints and canvases are very expensive. Printing presses are EXTREMELY expensive.

Artists put their livelihood into their craft, and should be rewarded for the joy they bring.

Shop Local

Through interviewing collectors extensively about their motivations, a common thread in a “sophisticated” collection is always a patron’s devotion to a particular artist. Getting to know an artist personally and building a relationship with both the gallery that represents them and the artist directly turns a would-be collector into a patron, and a patron into an advocate. Clerestory Fine Art aims not just to sell high quality work, but to cultivate a curiosity and understanding in northern New Jersey’s would-be collector pool, helping patrons learn what makes them tick, and linking them with the unbelievable professional artists they’ve been running into in the grocery store unknowingly for years.

Clerestory Fine Art endeavors to build the symbiotic relationships between art collectors and regional artists that fuels the creation of amazing work. The community we forge is the point of what we do.