Each month the Artophile offers essential advice to art collectors in the form of answers to their most frequently asked questions relating to affordable investment art. To have your question answered on this monthly feature page, click on Contact Us and make your request.

This month's topic...


While a case can be made for decorating in the eclectic style, the rule of thumb generally applied to all collections is that the more cohesive it is, the greater the value. Here are a few ways to improve your art investment performance through synergy:

1. Collect by Artist/Movement - The most obvious path to a cohesive art collection is to pick an artist or group of artists you like and stick with him/them. Some famous collections have been built this way -Gertrude Stein's Paris patronage of Picasso et. al; Peggy Guggenheim's Surrealists and Constructivists; Rembrandt Corporation's Andre Massons, etc. etc. The downside, of course, is the "eggs in one basket" dilemma. Back the "wrong" artists and your investment will stagnate. Thankfully, there are several paths available to preserve synergy through diversification…

2. Collect by Theme -There are collectors who are spending their lifetime painstakingly gathering all the prints belonging to Picasso's Suite Vollard (well over 300 images). A theme such as this can become an expensive obsession, but the result can represent a staggering achievement, and if the successful collection remains intact this collector has performed a valuable art-historical service, which makes his goal all the more worthwhile.

3. Collect by School - It is still possible to assemble a reasonably priced and comprehensive collection of graphics by the original group of Surrealists such as Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Andre Masson, etc. In the process you automatically develop a growing expertise for their philosophy, society and the times, and the intimacies of the way the artists lived their lives… all of which can make the experience very personal, immediate and gratifying.

4. Collect by Theme- Horses, for example. What fun to skip across centuries with anything to do with horses: tournaments, dressage, sport, anatomy, cavalry, transport, whatever…..starting with Incanabula (e.g. the Nueremburg Chronicles), Duerer, Rembrandt, Goya, 19 th C English hunting prints, etc., and right through up to the 20thC Marino Marini, Hans Erni and so on. Just "Animals" is too broad a theme - when the time comes to sell, you want to have a unique, comprehensive collection that will attract specific/specialized interest which generates its own vibrant energy and publicity. With such a novel approach, everybody will be eager to "come up and see your etchings…."

4. Collect by Technique - such as the POCHOIR, for example. This color process was used occasionally by artists such as Chagall and Delaunay, but it was developed into a special refinement with the fashion designers in the first three decades of the 20 th C . It is now, rediscovered in the eighties, a very narrow but lively and fascinating niche market. The rarity factor really comes into play here, as with the interruptions of two world wars the trend stopped almost as abruptly as it started, and current prices have no where to go but up.

5. Collect by Series-- A wonderful way for the art lover/bibliophile to collect is to focus on limited edition illustrated art books. Here the superbly presented textual content ( e.g. poetry, or great literature) is married to the artist's inspired interpretation of the theme, which is all brought together through the "packaging" of the quintessential artisan- bookbinder, whose tradition of talents goes back to the time of Gutenberg. It is the art of elegant presentation, the luxurious tour-de-force of the esthetically coordinated portfolio that distinguishes this art form. It is this magnificent artistic collaboration that has produced some of the most outstanding new book forms of the 20 th C., such as : "La Quete du Grall" by Salvador Dali.1978, with pictures and text, or Andre Masson's inspired depiction of "L'Odyssee."

None of the above is meant to be mutually exclusive. There are no strict "rules", but just by giving thought to what may become your guidelines for a lifetime of collecting will give a sharper edge and deeper satisfaction to your esthetic discovery.

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