Local Art World:
town has an art world, and these smaller more localized
worlds form the biggest segment of the art market. This
includes your local frame shop, the exhibitions in your
library, and the local college museum, etc. Local museums
and libraries tend to show original art such as paintings,
photographs, and works on paper done by your neighbors.
If you want to be informed about all the local goings on,
contact your county or region art council as well as the
art departments at local colleges. They have newsletters
listing local exhibitions, and slide registries for local
neighborhood frame shop will occasionally have some original
art by local artists, but will primarily carry inexpensive
posters from national publishers. Most of these galleries
are run by honest men and women who want to sell you a nice,
pretty picture. Prices for framed posters typically range
from $50 - $200, depending on size and frame. These pictures
have no resale value.
your local framer will have some "Limited Edition Prints"
which can range in the thousands of dollars. AVOID prints
by Erte, Agam, Rockwell, Nierman. etc. They are nothing
more than elaborately framed, printed, and signed posters
with have no artistic value.
Tacky World of Commercial Art:
The Art Lady, on my high horse, deride galleries that sell
Rockwell, Dali etc.,
but frankly, these galleries sell them for one reason -
there is a substantial market. Although as art, most of
these things have no redeeming value, I really don't mind
the fact that people - even people I know and love- buy
these pictures. What really steams me is that they overpay!
Tacky Art World is similar to the Furby market, or the market
for Franklin Mint plates - a collectible market. So while,
if you have a Dali limited edition you want to sell, you'd
be laughed out of the reputable auction houses, you could
probably get your money back on the internet.
How can you tell if you're in a tacky gallery?
tend to cluster in large up-scale shopping areas, shopping
malls, and - especially - resort areas.
see them in airports. For some reason, people who would
never think of going to a gallery in their home town,
always get suckered into these places on vacation.
sell "Limited Edition Prints" by any of the
following: Erte, Chagall, Earle,
Max, Jiang, Boulanger,
A LIMITED EDITON PRINT IS JUST A FANCY NAME FOR A REPRODUCTION
THAT HAPPENS TO BE SIGNED. IT HAS NO VALUE AS A WORK
OF ART. This would all be fine, if the art were correspondingly
cheap. It is not. People sell this junk for thousands
They always talk investment and rely on gimmicks
like the vaunted "Certificate of Authenticity". Believe
me, this is a worthless sheet of paper. The
certificate normally tells the truth about the
work, but in such convoluted terms that you don't
realize that the truth is that the piece you're
buying is worthless for resale.
By New York State Law a
print dealer is required to give certain information.
The Art Lady has a summary
of the laws for you, so consider yourself forewarned!
note that MOST of the people who sell this stuff
are typically not bad people. They are, however, ignorant
about art and the reputable art market. They do not know
about the legitimate art market, and often do not even know
what an original lithograph or silkscreen is. I have had
four of these people tell me in the past few days that there
is no such thing as an original print. The concept is beyond
Also, there is a group of truly unscrupulous dealers who
do actually lie about what they are selling you. They claim
that these "Limited Edition Prints" are original works of
art. Moreover, they will try and pass off old master prints
as originals when they are less valuable posthumous restrikes
- prints made after the artist's death on original plates.
They also sell forgeries.
Art Dealers and How to Tell?
reputable Art Dealer is 100% behind the work and will give
you your money back if the piece is not exactly as
described in the invoice. She will not offer you a "Certificate of
Authenticity" but will happily document for you, in the
invoice, the information required by New York State Law.
Most reputable dealers have extensive libraries -many
are art historians or collectors turned dealers.
Most reputable dealers are happy to educate, explain,
and teach. They have a passion for the art they sell,
and they want to communicate it.
dealers will also give full condition reports, and
will document fading, foxing or other condition problems
of a work on paper, or older canvases.
are typically four different areas in the contemporary art
market and most dealers will sell art from one or more of
these areas. They are:
The Reputable Print Market which covers both "emerging
artists" and established artists. (I always think in
terms of speculative issues and blue chip).
2. The Avant-Garde - otherwise known as "emerging
artists" (common contemporary terms that make me think
of a little flower unfolding).
3. The Established artist - This term covers artists
whose work is well-known by the art-going public, and represented
in both private and museum collections.
4. The Contemporary Masters - This covers artists
who are generally acknowledged to be important figures
in the history of contemporary American art such as Johns,
Lichtenstein, and Warhol (although look out for Warhol.
His posters are often misrepresented and sold as signed
and original by unscrupulous tacky dealers).
art dealer who specializes in the avant-garde and in work
by established artists also, typically, represents these
artists. Most of these dealers have a stable of 20-30 artists
who they choose to work with and by representing them, not
only exhibit the artist's work regularly, but also are responsible
for public relations pertaining to the artist and the work
itself. They take care of the artists' slides, get the artists
newspaper reviews, get the artists work into major private
and corporate collections, and do everything possible to
enhance the artist's career. They are also active in getting
the artist exhibitions in other galleries around the country.
and Secondary Markets - Another View
There is another
way to think about the Contemporary Art Marketl. Most
dealers - especially those who handle less expensive
works - sell in both the primary market and the secondary
primary market refers to art that comes directly from
the artists' studio and sold by the dealer from the studio
to the collector.
secondary market refers to art that is put up for sale
not by the artist, but by a collector or other dealer who
wants to sell it. By definition, art on the secondary market
is by artists who have a substantial worldy reputation.
There is no secondary market for work by artists who do
not enjoy such a reputation.
dealers do not exhibit art they have from the secondary
market in their galleries but show it "in their back room".
They often use profits from selling more expensive work
to finance their riskier exhibition programs. Collectors
who wish to sell on the secondary market have a choice,
they can give their work to a reputable art dealer or they
can give it to an auction house such as Sotheby's or Christie's.
Many times, they choose to work with an art dealer because
they need to sell discreetly (auctions are embarassingly
public) or because they do not want to risk getting their
art "burned". This is a term used for pieces that have been
put up at auction and not sold, and it often puts a psychological
damper on the market for that painting. The term used for
work new to the market is "fresh".
the auction houses will tell you, many collectors want to
sell artwork for one of the three D reasons - Death, Debt,
and Divorce. In times of rising markets - however, many
collectors simply put work up for sale because they think
they can make handsome profits.