An artist who has been recognized by the critics, is acquired by museums, has memorable shows and has an established market at the time of his death has a chance of seeing his work increase in value over time. However, because the contemporary art world has grown so, so much and so many talents have emerged, it’s fair to think that in the future, the majority of the artists that we are crazy about today will become only footnotes in art history books.
Beatriz Milhazes rarely releases prints, when she does, they are limited editions and generally affordable; however, when I say "affordable", I mean that people should expect to pay around $10,000 instead of $500,000 for an original of her works.
An art purchase should not be made based solely upon “bargains”, or whether or not the “bargain” will become a treasure when the artist dies. Nor should the decision be based on trends, fads, or collective reactions. Buying art shouldn’t be made based solely on financial reasons either. Art is not security. Art is emotional. It’s supposed to be enjoyed. That’s how and why human beings create art.
That hot phenomenon of Street Art and super business-oriented man that is Mr. Brainwash, releases limited edition prints on a monthly basis that can be purchased directly on his website (if you can ever get one, since they do sell out in minutes!) Usually each print starts at $300 and purchases are limited to one per buyer. I like Mr.B's stuff and for $300 (and then say $300 more to get it nicely framed) I do consider any of these prints to be a good bargain.
If I happen to find something I love by an artist who is young and unknown, an inexpensive piece that goes well with my collection, I will buy it without thinking if the artist will become famous, or whether the piece will gain value over time. By the same token, if an artist is recognized and loved by museums, critics and power collectors, and the price point is high and I don’t love the work, then I won’t buy. It will not make me happy, even though the value of the artwork could increase over time. Bottom line for me--I have to really love the art and know I can live with it, if not for the rest of my life, at least for a good chunk of it.
Tristan Eaton is a New Yorker whose art I love. An excellent piece can be bought for $800. His works have been acquired by the MoMA and the Cooper Hewitt Museum. I guess I don't have to say more!
I believe that although there’s no perfect formula for buying art, a successful, “no-regrets” decision-making process looks more or less like this: (1) love the piece and understand some of its background (or the creative process behind it), (2) do some research on the artist; (3) ask around: don’t be afraid of contacting galleries, art consultants or friends who are art connoisseurs; (4) understand the space where you want to display it and the impact or visual stimulation that you want to create and (5) do some soul-searching and see what it is exactly that you want that piece to give to you in the long term. These steps can be very easily followed and they ultimately should lead to having a great collection that can be enjoyed for many, many years.