Thursday, May 30, 2024

Investing in Original Art

Art comes in many shapes and sizes. From paintings to sculpture, art will enrich the lives of anyone in its presence, from casual viewers to the most ardent of collectors.

Personally, I am a fan of original artworks. In contrast to mass-printed reproductions, original art possesses particular and unique qualities that make it come alive. These subtleties are visible in the fabric of the work itself, allowing the hand of the artist to truly shine through.

Universally, art is a highly enjoyable experience for many which brings the question, why don’t more people invest in it?

By buying original works of art, one is able to own an image that brings them delight, and financially benefit from what has also proven to be a great form of investment in the long term.

There are three artists whose works I would love to have displayed in my home. Firstly, there is Sean Jefferson (b. 1957) whose vivid and fantastical scenes blends William Blake, Richard Dadd, Symbolism and Art Nouveau with a more contemporary psychedelic aesthetic. His paintings are impressively original in both their composition and style, never failing to draw in mystify and entertain its viewer.

Secondly, I am an admirer of Ken Howard’s (b. 1932) art. Painting in a highly traditional manner involving precise observation, an emphasis on draughtsmanship and close attention to tonal detail, his Impressionistic depictions of cityscapes and the human figure are breathtaking examples of fine art. His expert treatment of light and surface textures allow him to convey highly evocative atmospheres, elevating the beauty of everyday life.

Lastly, there are the charming compositions of Bernard Dunstan (1920-2017). Best known for his depictions of figures in interior spaces, along with the occasional portrait and landscape, Dunstan’s works clearly show a blend of influences including Impressionist Renoir, Post-Impressionist Vuillard and Modernist Walter Sickert. Like myself, he enjoyed painting scenes he came across spontaneously, capturing and translating the immediacy one experiences in the real world in paint form.

As you can see, there are very specific reasons for why I enjoy and admire each artist’s output. Art is an extremely personal matter, and many art advisers will emphasise that above all other factors, you have to buy what you love.

The paintings of the artists whom I have described are all unique and impressive, but this can only be fully comprehended when the original work is experienced in real life. There are many reasons for why one should buy original art, one being the preservation of artistic integrity.

When creating the artwork, artists make specific decisions regarding their choice of colour, media, treatment and placement of the medium. Commercial reproductions are very rarely able to convey the true scale, depth, colour and texture of the original, thus losing the artist’s intentions and therefore the actual impact of the work. For example, an artist painting in thick dabs of oil paint produces a heavily impastoed and bold surface, and the appearance of these textures will transform as light conditions change. These special nuances can no longer be experienced when one views a flat copy of the painting.

Not only is viewing art an enriching experience, but so is the process of browsing and purchasing. When you buy a work from a living artist, you are supporting the arts by supporting their career. Sometimes there is even the possibility of meeting the artist or visiting their studio. Talking to the artist and learning more about their creative and practical process can allow you to gain a deeper understanding and develop a stronger connection to the work. It can be highly pleasurable to explore different options in the space, fostering a greater idea of your likes and dislikes, and discovering and acquiring something you care about.

The innate rarity of an original work makes it special, meaning its value is more likely to increase in the future. Not only is this financially beneficial, but one also gains satisfaction and pride in being the only person to have a particular piece.

In addition, ownership is an important element of the work’s provenance. Typically, tracing the provenance of an artwork is key to determining its veracity. By owning an artwork, you embed yourself into its history and become part of its story.

The advantages of investing in original art are diverse, from financial incentive to personal enhancement and joy. It is certainly a long-term endeavour, but ultimately, you will prosper in extraordinary ways as a result.

Oliver Maughan is a London-based landscape painter. / @OliverMaughan

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