Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why do people buy art?

What with all this talk about how to invest one's money, especially if one has the kind of money lying around to invest in whatever one chooses, and when there are racehorses, fast cars, jewellery, property, antiques, and all kinds of other must-haves available to the discerning buyer, why would one buy art?

Just to convolute things a bit further, I am lumping older paintings in with antiques - not because I think they are old and dated, but because like a piece of antique furniture, such paintings are art objects of historical value. In this post, the 'art' that I'm talking about people buying is the contemporary stuff.

Now I recently heard that an acquaintance of mine Conor Harrington is starting to do really well, and I have to say Fair Play Conor, because I had heard that the tutors in the art college in Limerick did NOT like his work and were highly critical of it. At the time it was not too far away from Street Art, which of course is now extremely popular, thanks to the likes of Banksy. Goes to show, really, doesn't it?

But while Conor Harrington's work could rightly be considered an 'investment', and given that he is still reasonably young and his oeuvre is still in a state of flux, a shrewd observer of contemporary art movements with the cash to do so might well buy up some pieces. But there's the other side to why people buy art - because they like it.

Of course, it may well also be because they like the artist - I recall Conor Harrington to be friendly and likeable type of person. But when you buy a painting for your house, you have to live with it. You have to be sure you like it. It will become part of your living space. In three generations time it might well be an antique. People might even ask 'was that a contemporary of Banksy?'

In the current tense economic times, it's only the really wealthy that can spend a lot of money on art. The rest of us are a little more preoccupied with paying day-to-day bills, but that's life. When I show works, I don't sell very much, but people take some time to walk around the pieces, think about them, and sometimes go back to one or two of them and look again and think some more. This I like to see. If they feel like chatting about the work, I'll chat with them. I've been told that many art lovers with less money to spend at the moment are NOT going into see new work in galleries, because they feel they would be tempted to spend money they need for other things - I can relate to that. Times are tight, and you want your kids to be educated and prepared for all eventualities.

But when things are better economically, I know that I will hear from some people again, because I could see how they connected with something in my work. Does my work have any art historical value? I honestly don't care either way. People LIKE it. I don't promote it aggressively through galleries, but I do get the odd inquiry. They like it. And when they have the money to spend on it, they will come.

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