Art is an investment, and no matter how much you choose to spend or where you decide to shop, there are a few important guidelines to follow.
Barry Gordon, founder of MaxSold, a downsizing and estate sale auction service, offers tips on how to buy art without getting duped. MaxSold has a hub in Atlanta and runs auctions throughout the metro area, so be sure to check out one of their upcoming events.
Here are Gordon’s tips for anyone buying art:
Know your medium: Watercolor versus oil; what’s the difference? Watercolor paints are made of pigments and water, and are generally done on paper. Oil paintings require a more sturdy backing, such as canvas or linen, because oil paints are made of pigments that are mixed with drying oils, such as linseed, poppyseed, walnut or safflower. Watercolors typically do not have any tactile texture, while oil painting are textured and take a very long time to dry, thus making the paint resilient to the touch, even years after it was applied.
Is it real?: Watercolors are notorious for fooling even the most ardent art buffs. Because of the lack of texture in watercolor paintings, the naked eye can’t always detect the real deal from faux masterpieces. To decrease your chances of being duped, grab a loupe and get looking. If you see pixels, steer clear, the painting you are examining is a print. Remember, pixels = prints.
Signed, sealed, delivered: Most people know to look for an artist signature when buying a work of art, but taking a look at the back of a painting can be just as telling of value, if not more. Is there a gallery stamp, gallery tag or title? Also, is there any documentation to verify provenance? These things can verify the authenticity of a painting and help determine if you’re overpaying or getting a bargain.
What’s your type?: If you’re not sure what art style you are looking at, stick to the these three basic categories: landscape, portrait and abstract. Generally speaking, landscapes are worth more if animals and humans have been included in the painting, as they require more work and attention to detail. Also, when shopping for landscapes, beware of oilettes. This sneaky tactic mimics brush stroke textures to trick buyers into thinking they are buying an oil painting instead of a print. Typically, paintings of taverns and historical buildings fall prey to the oilette technique, so keep an eye out if an old-time European cityscape strikes your fancy.
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