The Art Investment Journey

Nicola Kritzinger shares some guidelines for buying art and asks the experts who to look out for this year.

Investing in art is about building your own collection and supporting artists’ careers.

Talking about the idea of “art as investment” is tricky because art is not a traditional form of “investment”. When a collector buys art, it’s not a once-off financial investment, but rather a consistent process over many years where the art enthusiast invests energy and money in building an art collection. Collecting art that will grow in value begs cultural participation.

Who should you buy in 2019?

Lawyer and art patron, Pulane Kingston has her eye on a few young artists that are excelling in their careers. She loves Kudzanai-Violet Hwami for her “powerful nudes that raise lingering questions about the representation of black bodies. Her large-scale paintings and colourful brushstrokes effortlessly dispel ideas around African sexuality, spirituality and gender”.

Kingston also notes the work of Nolan Oswald Dennis for his “delicate and elaborate line drawings that evoke ideas of symbolic cartography. The theme of ‘becoming’, that seems to be a thread across his body of work, deeply resonates with me”.

She also finds Bronwyn Katz’s and Cinga Samson’s art alluring: Katz for her deconstructions of identity in her sculptural works and Cinga Samson for his haunting self-portraits “in which he addresses themes of youth, blackness, masculinity and spirituality”.

Simple rules for buying art:

  • Always buy the best art you can afford: Take time to build a valuable collection with potential for growth.
  • Love what you buy: The real investment is in the love of your collection and in the artist’s career. Curator and artist, Jonathan Freemantle suggests that it’s better to buy five paintings by an artist you love over the course of a year than one big piece by an artist considered “an investment”. Buy the work of young artists: Freemantle also suggests collectors consistently buy the work of young and emerging artists who are gaining international recognition. Look at art — develop your “eye”: Developing your eye will teach you the difference between what is “good” and what is excellent. Visual literacy is as important as historical art knowledge.
  • Educate yourself: Read voraciously about art. Keep up to date on contemporary art and emerging artists. Look at auction results. Learn about art from all time periods and all over the world. The more you know, the better decisions you will make buying art.
  • Diversify: Buy the work of many different artists, but also buy more than one artwork from an artist you love. Buying art over the years from an artist helps support their growth and, in turn, the value of the works in your own collection.
  • Be obsessive and consistent: Investing in art is long-term and the value of art grows over time. Freemantle agrees that “galleries love a collector who is loyal to an artist and keeps pace with their career”. Galleries will offer new works to these collectors first ensuring they buy choice works at the best price.
  • Ask experts: To learn more about art, ask those who know about art. They’re more often than not helpful and accommodating.

YOUNG ARTISTS TO BUY IN 2019

Major works under R100 000: Io Makandal, Gresham Nyaude, Wycliffe Mundopa, Bianca Bondi and Fred Clarke.

R100 000+: Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Zander Blom, Nico Krijno and Nolan Oswald Dennis.

Prices depend on medium, size, and availability, and major works for the listed artists are currently estimated in these financial brackets. This is subject to change. Smaller works within the lower price range are available from all the artists.

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