April 03, 2016 3 min read

Appreciating and Collecting South African Art

Whether for pleasure, corporate or private collection and decor, buying art has been described as the last truly indulgent choice left! No one needs art to live in the way that we need food, clothes and shelter, BUT it does become important to us as an expression of who we are, our philosophy, and what we appreciate. Soulfood? . . . Probably.

What to Look For

  • Something that appeals to you.
  • Does the artist portray something, which you can see in your minds' eye but cannot express - maybe an emotion?
  • Does it have pleasing lines, colour and form? Try to understand why the image appeals to you.
  • Does it have something unique in your view which gives you pleasure?
  • You know you would recognise it when you see it!
  • A gift for someone - remember that art is a personal and lasting gift.

Buy what you like! Something that appeals on an emotional level - maybe it will inspire or give you a lift whenever you look at it.

Should I buy a Print or an Original? 
Budget may well come into it or you may want a token from a famous artist. Remember a print is just a print and has no value, whereas an original is always unique and bears the perception and embodiment of a dream from the artist.

 

Some common Opinions / Premises / Misconceptions:

Only buy South African art from a known artist: WHY?
Were this the case, no new art would ever evidence itself since there would be no demand or market and nothing else would sell! Just imagine that you were in London in say 1908. You would have the choice of the Pre-Raphaelites and the Romantics, which had been in vogue for 30-40 years, or you may just have come upon a colourful impressionistic style by Van Gogh, Monet or Gaugin.

Whilst not understanding why, you were attracted to them and saw that for £5 you could buy say a 30x40cm framed picture by one of the 'new breed' of artists who experimented with light and belonged to the new collective genre 'IMPRESSIONISM'. So you bought it and - surprise, surprise - its value would in sixty years have risen to £1Million as the artist developed and became more collected. You bought it because you liked it then others began to feel the same way, a market was established and the price/value rose.

Will I be rich in Fine Art after Ten Years? 
Not an ideal motive – one should buy for the love of art. The artists' whose work you bought may flourish and develop or may stop painting all together. Both can be good/bad for the future values of the picture. Rarity in beauty can always demand a premium but not immediately. What has been proven in South Africa since the early 1960's is that art works have, in Rand terms, doubled in value every four to five years. This has been proven time and time again in the top, middle and lower ranks of South African artists, the formula always seems to work out and give rise to 'surprise' when proven correct.

Example
Simon Addy has always been an individual and distinctive artist who has worked in the advertising industry on and off for 25 years. He has always painted families of guinea fowls scurrying about, using very mature colours and an almost Rembrantesque style.

They are delightful and in 1998 we sold them for R3 550 each (framed). In October 1998 an almost aggressive, nee, hysterical lady came into a gallery to confirm the price of the latest guinea fowl images. 'I bought one in 1973, almost the exact size, for R115 - how can you justify this price?'

SImple  
1973 R115
1978 R230
1983 R460
1988 R960
1993 R1840
1998 R3 680

 

Footnote: Do also factor in the cost of framing – which has also constantly risen by 15%-18% per annum from 1973 to the current day. As framing is calculated according to the size and not the value of the work, it is possible to have a print valued at R200 costing the same to frame as a Picasso original costing R95 000.

As she had lost her 1973 picture in a divorce settlement, she came back the next day and bought two - case proven, it happens with most artists work. South Africa is probably the best value country for buying art - even more so if bought with foreign currency.

Mark Wright
Mark Wright



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