Starting An Art Collection - Part I
#ARTWISEUP by SAL McINTYRE
MARCH 16, 2018 


Beginning to add artwork to a home collection can be an exciting prospect, especially when allowing an as yet unexpressed joy see the light of day for the first time. Creating a personal curation has roots deep in some of the interests that are purely after the love of art, an identity-reflecting pursuit that aids the arranging of the home, work or play spaces that we most attune with. When attempting to figure out where to start, the art world can present an intimidating volume of options and vantage points— however there are ways to navigate making the first few purchases with pleasure and confidence, and in a way that will help define the character of your collection to allow for a cohesiveness as it grows over time.

Alberto Bali – Willi's Wine Bar, stone lithograph 1982

A good rule to begin with is to very honestly follow the threads representing a genuine love or interest, whether it be for the subject, the artist, the mood, the color palette or expression, or any other reason for which it may be difficult to find words. By selecting works that are after your own heart you are ensuring that the piece will continue to carry value for you personally, regardless of its economic position in an eternally fluctuating marketplace. And if it ever comes time to move on from a piece, the chances are higher that there is something indefinable about it that will find resonance with someone else.

Roland Hugon – Monaco Grand Prix 1975, stone lithograph 1991

It further goes to say that while it may be within your reach to purchase an original oil painting for example, collecting prints of favorite works is a fun and highly accessible sect of art collecting where both affordable and top-quality works can be found in a great range. You may not realize that owning an original Picasso print is absolutely within the budget, and with the right eye for design, an entire space can be transformed with just the right lighting. This piece 60 Years of Graphic Works is a particularly good collector's item, an original color stone lithograph designed by Picasso for the opening of the LA County Museum in 1966. 2500 copies were printed by famous printing house Mourlot in Paris.

Pablo Picasso – 60 Years of Graphic Works, Mourlot stone lithograph 1966
"By selecting works that are after your own heart you are ensuring that the piece will continue to carry value for you personally, regardless of its economic position in an eternally fluctuating marketplace."

There also exists a span of printing methods extending from high-yield offset lithography or low-to-medium-yield stone lithography, all the way through small-run silkscreen, woodblock, etching or even monotype — all of which can fall under the umbrella of limited edition, and frequently do, with edition sizes of 1, 10, 200 or even in the thousands. Though it is maybe difficult to define what can be constituted as an original, especially when artists like Warhol or Koons famously employ the labor of assistants, it is maybe not necessary, as it can be enlightening to peruse these vitality-steeped and history-filled objects. Prints are a hugely varied artistic medium, with a lot to choose from.

Pierre Fernandez Arman – Amnesty International, SIGNED + NUMBERED offset lithograph 1976

An option for a good broad jumping-off point is to research a particular artist you are fond of, as you know that you already commune with their aesthetic. Many artists like Rauschenberg, Hockney, Keith Haring or Lichtenstein have prolific bodies of work, offering many shades of expression in pieces that are perhaps lesser-known, though no less significant. There is nothing more exciting than coming across an artwork by one of your favorites that is new to you, giving you a chance to breathe in fresh inspiration from someone you already love, and also an opportunity to carve your space in a unique way, a bit off the beaten path. This exemplary work from Helen Frankenthaler is part of an edition of 150 impressions, signed and numbered in pencil and published by The Paris Review, New York, 1965.

Certainly by proceeding with an ear for your true passions, before long you’ll see you can call yourself a collector.

Helen Frankenthaler – Paris Review, SIGNED + NUMBERED stone lithograph 1965
Josef Albers – The 10th New York Film Festival, SIGNED + NUMBERED silkscreen 1972
James Rosenquist – Short Cuts, 8th New York Film Festival, offset lithograph 1970