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Five things to look for when buying art

Buying an artwork can feel like a daunting task: with the enormous amount of artworks available online and offline it's easy to get overwhelmed. How do you figure out which work is the one? And how can you know that you will still enjoy that work five years down the road? If you recognise this struggle, these five tips will come in handy!

1. The aesthetic value

In the first place, a work of art should obviously appeal to you. You can be attracted to a work of art for several reasons: you can find a work of art beautiful, of course, but a work of art can also intrigue you, irritate you, raise questions or evoke another emotion.

2. Personal relationship

There are different ways a work of art can come to life for you personally. It can simply be the subject, for example an image of your favorite travel destination, or perhaps the color or the material. A work of art can also evoke certain memories and associations, or mark a specific period in your life, such as a major life change like a new career or the birth of your child.

3. The story behind it

In general: an idea lasts longer than just an image. This means that if you only choose a work for estehtical reasons, you'll get tired of it faster than if the story behind the work also appeals to you. This could be a certain subject or theme that the artist refers to in his or her work, but also the working method of the artist or the research that preceded the creation of the work.

4. The entire oeuvre

Following on from that, it is interesting to explore how the work relates to the other works by this artist. You buy, as it were, a piece of the story that an artist tells over the years.

5. Historical context

Each work of art is also part of a larger whole, that of (art) history. Contemporary artists stand, as it were, on the shoulders of the artists who preceded them and often reflect on this in their work. It's easier to explore this layer once you learn more about art and art history: you will start to see the bigger picture and understand these references, but also train yourself to discover true originality.

Explore the arts!

Want to learn more about looking at ánd buying art? Young Collectors Circle gives you all the information and tools you need to start your collection: from a Crash Course Collecting about art history, the art market, materials and techniques and presenting art at home to visits to galleries, studios, fairs and private collections. Check here for more information!

Hamid Sallali: ‘This work is called Desert Street by Onorato & Krebs. I bought this picture during a dynamic period in my life, when I was standing at a crossroads and not sure yet which way to go. In the end I chose the road of my dreams and followed my ambition. Anything is possible, as long as you believe there’s a way.'

Katja Weitering: 'This photograph is by Pipilotti Rist and is titled Sunrise-Switzerland. The image has a strong personal significance to me. I see collecting art as a way to collect ‘moments’ from your life as well. I think certain pieces stay with you your entire life. They form a kind of ‘album’ you can browse through.'

Zayènne van Heesen-Laclé: 'This work is called Kim and is by Pietro Perrone. I find the simplicity with which it is painted, with its many shades of white, black and gray that provide depth, very special. The painting reminds me very much of my sister, who has not lived in the Netherlands for years. This way it feels like she is around.'

  • These three images are part of the series Art of Collecting, created by Laura Hein for Young Collectors Circle.

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