With art fairs, exhibitions, museums, and artists burgeoning in the region, a novice art collector can feel overwhelmed. Vogue Arabia reaches out to Christie’s Dubai—the leading auction house in the region—for its tips for aficionados shopping for Middle Eastern art. Here, Christie’s curates a 5-step guide for new collectors on how to source potentially high-value artists and purchase their work—plus, the regional artists (and their pieces) to keep an eye on.
1. TRAIN YOUR EYE
Investing in art is impossible if you don’t understand the subject. Each piece of artwork is unique and expresses the thoughts and feelings of an individual—the artist. It is important to gain insight about the artist and his work in order to obtain a global overview of the artist.
Attend as many exhibitions and auction previews as possible. But you need to do your homework, too. Gain deeper background knowledge about the artist, his choices, and ponder which artists speak to you and why others don’t.
2. ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE ARTIST OF CHOICE
Engage with the life and work of the artist—read about his career, build a library composed of his exhibition catalogues, monographies, auction catalogues, and maybe even catalogue reasons supporting your choice. If the artist of interest is still alive, meet and develop a personal relationship with him.
Plan your city trips around the exhibition schedule of your favorite artist—and when his work is offered at an auction, attend the pre-auction exhibitions (which are open to the public), and engage with specialists who are delighted to start a conversation and answer all of your questions.
3. UNDERSTAND THE MARKET
Knowledge about the entire work of an artist will also help you to make the right decisions when works of art are being offered to you for purchase. The best way to find out how the market reacts to certain artists is by attending auctions. All auctions around the world are public and can be attended even without the intention of participating. They are gatherings of the art scene of a particular region and occur in places like Dubai, London, and New York.
4. ATTEND AN AUCTION
The first auction experience will also expose you to the particularities of this part of the market. You will learn that not only does the room dictate the outcome of an auction, but that the telephone bidders—employees of the auction house who are on the phone with collectors who do not or cannot attend the auction—and the Internet bidding play an important role. The auctioneer has to control all these different elements of the auction to make sure the work of art will be knocked down to the right bidder for the right price. Auctioneering is a performance, as our founder James Christie described it 250 years ago.
5. ENJOY THE ART
This is the most important part! You can gain knowledge about the art and its market as much as you like, but if you do not enjoy the art, you have not fully engaged with it.