Is it Possible to Collect Art Responsibly During a Crisis?

Visiting art galleries is not possible during the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Vertical Gallery, Chicago
Visiting art galleries is not possible during the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Vertical Gallery, Chicago

It’s undeniable that we are living in remarkable times. The whole world is down on its knees while we are helplessly watching COVID-19 destroying families, collapsing the financial markets, with us all confined at home. The art world is one of many sectors directly hit by the crisis. Everyone wants to know what is going to happen to the art market post COVID-19.

Lessons from the past

Everything is still uncertain at the moment due to the novel coronavirus. It’s impossible to predict how the rest of the year will unfold. But when it comes to art, and art collectors, the best thing to do is to look at the past. By looking at past crises similar to the actual one, other pivotal moments when the whole world was destabilized; we can have a clue as to how the art market can bounce back.

Advantage of Modern Times

With museums closed, no auctions, various galleries going bankrupt, no creative hotspots; it’s the first time in modern history where the only place to view art objects is from our homes.

Art auctions won’t be for until post COVID-19. Photo: Art Auctions Abroad

We headed over to artsy where Nicholas Campbell answered a few questions about being a responsible art collector during the coronavirus crisis. Adviser for the last 10 years, he says right now is an excellent time to support the art industry. We summarised his advice below.

Supporting Artists and Galleries

During this extended time in confinement, we were made aware of the blank walls in our homes which might have inspired some to start buying art. Right now, where might be the best place to go, on a budget, other than instagram. It is the best place to support independent artists. An Artist Support Pledge was set up to help cross sell between artists.

Many artists are creating works mainly to raise funds for charities. While many collectors already know which artists or works they like, there are a few things that can be done. You are probably a seasoned collector too, right now you can call galleries and artists that you know and ask how you can support them. See if there are any older works in their inventories you can acquire. It is an opportunity to strengthen relationships which is something the art world relies on.

Asking for discounts

While many people think right now is the perfect time to get big discounts. While true, it is important to be sensitive. Think about the artists and galleries and their situation. If you are buying from big, well established names, do not hesitate on trying to get significant discounts but for smaller galleries it might be a good idea not to ask for a discount at all.

Consigning art from your collection

Many buyers are seeing this crisis as an opportunity to get new works or fill gaps in their collections. Some on the other hand are thinking about selling but worried about prices. It’s important to be realistic, knowing that the art market has been wildly over-inflated for a while. This crisis might bring some price correction. Prices of artworks might not be the same as from a few months ago. Be ready to let go of your art pieces for less.

The internet can be overwhelming

While it is still unsure when the next time you’ll be able to pop into an art gallery, right now it is important to get help from an art adviser. With the infinite number of dealers and online galleries to choose from online, it can be overwhelming. The digital marketplace is immense and endless, it’s not possible to determine depth, material and scale with everything in front of you being two-dimensional.

Browsing artworks can only be done online. Photo: fancycrave1 via Instagram

Art advisers can help you, or even auctioneers. Being those who have seen the most works, they are well positioned to give sensible and reliable advice. With your budget communicated to them, they’ll go through the online art world and get you exactly what you want. The days of home visits are gone, now meetings and tours are done via tools like Zoom.

The art world is still as exciting as it has ever been. Embrace the new reality and support the art industry.

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