Purchasing Art: Education and Emotion

15 august 2022 By Margaux for Private Banking 1859

The love story between the National Bank Private Banking 1859 and the AGAC (Contemporary Art Galleries Association)—organizer of the Papier Art Fair—is nothing new. Several bank clients are also art buyers or collectors. Curious and eager for advice, we asked expert Jo-Ann Kane, Collection Management Consultant, Curator of the National Bank art collection, and member of the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board.

Buying art? What for?

There are different legitimate reasons for purchasing artwork. The first being because we like it, but also because we want to have it in our home, support an artist (and culture in general), invest financially, enhance our collection, etc. These are all good reasons because they promote our culture. For Jo-Ann Kane, it isn’t so much about buying, but rather wanting to live with artwork. “I encourage everyone to surround themselves with Art and meet the artists whenever possible. Because the artist’s creation lives with us, it’s interesting to know what the thought process was.”

Accessible to everyone? Yes, but…

Today, prints or drawings can be purchased for less than $1,000. A great start for anyone who wants to bring Art into their life. But the buyer’s approach will quickly come into play. There is a difference between buying artwork to live with it and buying to start a collection. “There are several markets; more specialized, institutional for corporate and museum collections, and others more accessible to the public,” said the expert.

In fact, some prized artwork will not sell in the open, but rather be reserved for already built and recognized collections. Mrs. Kane adds: “Having access to high quality artwork requires well-established relationships with galleries and having a solid collection.” How does one get there? Well, being well informed and knowing the right people is key.

So, to buy or to collect?

Buying or collecting art is not a matter of taste, says our expert. People interested in art will want to educate themselves, be thoroughly and regularly informed about the market, the artists, movements, periods, etc. They will cross-reference information and sources, ask several experts. They will return to museums they already know, travel to discover new ones. This kind of commitment requires a lot of work and investment. In doing so, one develops an eye for art, manages to compare, understand, and develop a sensitivity. Through effort and passion, this quest has meaning well beyond aesthetics. “Artwork speaks to us,” said Mrs. Kane. Here is some practical advice for this constant quest.

1. Being informed and investigating

It is about educating yourself, researching daily to stay informed, developing your eye for art and asking questions. “A lot of research goes into buying household appliances or a car: consumer websites, the people around us, various other websites, manuals, etc. This method needs to be applied to Art,” said Mrs. Kane humorously.

2. Having multiple opinions

No matter how well intentioned your friends and family are, you cannot rely entirely on a single person’s advice, expert or not. Surround yourself with specialists. Find out about their access to the market and artwork, their Art history background. Try to find out whether they travel and where they get their information.

3. Looking and truly seeing

Bringing artwork into your home is like having a living being. It has a presence, a voice, a meaning. Acquiring artwork is about emotion. When you truly see it with your own eyes, you will confirm whether you connect with it.

4. Starting in the right places

The Papier Art Fair is the best place to start your quest. Get closer to the AGAC and follow their events and news.

In conclusion

Any means is good to support the Canadian art market. Wanting to be surrounded by beautiful things at home is perfectly fine. But embarking on a quest takes time, energy, patience, and above all, knowledge. So, plenty of passion and curiosity. And being open as such is always quite satisfying, as says our guest: “Collecting is like catching butterflies, I am still so happy with my first purchase.”