Good Impressions

Uncategorized Jul 13, 2004 No Comments

Tomorrow night, Wednesday 14th of July, sees the launch of art consultant Michael Reid’s book How to Buy and Sell Art at the Queensland University of Technology Art Gallery.

Reid is a former Christie’s staffer who set up shop and hung out a shingle for passing trade in the secondary market. It’s a busy old life for Reid, making appearances on Radio National, writing books and magazine articles, running a boutique gallery in Darlinghurst, giving lectures and advising people on what to purchase while generally demystifying the whole secondary market voodoo that puts people off buying something nice for the lounge room.

Reid also writes a column for The Australian’s Wealth section where he dispenses invaluable advice for free. Any captains of industry paying attention will get some good tips, such as this from Reid’s Art Investor column from Wednesday July 7 under the title Master a good first impression:

French Impressionism makes a great investment.

“Internationally, European Impressionism is the most significant category for artworks sold at auction – a market worth at least $800 million in sales a year.

“It is a broad, well-established market, and strong prices indicate astute collectors are seeing real returns – both aesthetically and financially – on purchased artworks.”

You can tell Reid is a market professional – he has the language to prove it – astute buying prices market significant strong collectors financially – and we’re only two pars into the story. We were hoping we’d see the word ‘robust’ before too long but our concentration as diverted by the promise of a work of art that had an ‘aesthetic’ return. We think we know what he means – not only does it cost a lot, it looks nice too.

Further down the article, after Reid gives us a round up of sales figures gleaned from auction house web sites and clearance lists, we get to the nub of the column…

“Australian collectors are still somewhat of a rarity in [collecting European Impressionism], even though European Impressionist pictures are without doubt a good complement to any Australian art collection. They link so directly to works by our own artists — one only has to look to the Heidelberg school to see the French influence.

“Artworks by famous names can and should be collected, if only for the reason that the better-known artists hold their value easily.”

We did a double-take when we read that – we just assumed that since prices for works by big name impressionists like Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh were well over $100,000USD each we’d be looking at selling off the beach house to even get in to the bottom end of the market. Blue chip investments hold their value says Reid, and that may be true, but how many people have the ability to buy into a blue chip market, especially one with such high class cache as Impressionism? You’d be hard pressed to buy any decent Heidelberg school paintings in Australia let alone getting into the serious, cravat wearing Impressionist buyer’s scene. But maybe we don’t have to buy oil paintings – maybe works on paper are the way to go –it’s always the default recommendation by art consultants when people want in but can’t afford the best stuff:

“Works on paper are a great place to begin collecting, with pieces by famous names such as Edgar Degas and Paul Signac appearing regularly for $20,000.”

Reid also does his readers a service by providing handy links to Sotheby’s and Christie’s web sites and that’s another column for another week… Thank you and good night!

The Art Life

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