Buying and collecting art is an art in itself. Keeping up with the best up-and-coming artists, knowing when to buy classic versus trendy, and discovering the piece that’s going to take your collection to the next level is a skill set that takes time to develop. To give you a leg up, we talked with Saatchi Art’s Chief Curator Rebecca Wilson, who shared her tips and the trend of the moment.
How did you get into art curation?
Slightly by accident. I was the editor of Art Review, a contemporary art magazine based in London, and went from there to work at the Saatchi Gallery. While I was there I started a prize for graduates just leaving art school called New Sensations which culminated in a big exhibition of 20 BFA and MFA graduates in London during Frieze week. So I was plunged in at the deep end curating a huge exhibition of 50 or more works in a 10,000 sq ft venue. I did it for seven years, and have gone on to curate many exhibitions in different cities as well as curating thousands of exhibitions online at Saatchi Art. Being the curator of an online gallery is very much an ongoing thing as around 1000 new works are uploaded by artists to Saatchi Art every day. So I start my day going through all of these works, earmarking them for upcoming online and offline exhibitions, as well as features on individual artists. As a curator I’m also thinking about clients that would be interested in the works that we are able to recommend through our art advisory service.
What’s your best tip for starting an art collection?
Buy what you love! It’s easy to get caught up in a flurry of which artist’s works might go up in value and forget that you are about to buy a unique work of art that someone has made and that you will be able to enjoy every day. I’d also spend time going to MFA degree shows and looking at as much art as you can. It will help you to work out what you like and why you like it.
For an avid art collector, any advice for buying classic versus trendy pieces?
You can get stung buying work by young artists that very rapidly attract a lot of hype as prices on the whole increase too quickly, the market gets satiated, and young artists can struggle to develop and continue to make exciting work in such a pressured atmosphere. So it’s much better to focus on works that you feel an emotional response to and that you can imagine enjoying over time. This can of course be a range of works in different styles and mediums. I love to bring together all sorts of styles that I like from new contemporary paintings to Indian miniatures to geometric collages and black and white photography. But for me it always starts with really loving a work and wanting to know more about the artist’s ideas and process.
Any art trends you’re seeing for 2017?
More and more people are buying art and they are buying it online which is really exciting for artists all over the world. This trend looks set to continue which means that all kinds of artists who have not been served well by the traditional art gallery model will see their works discovered and bought, enabling them to earn a living from their work in a way that was not possible 10 years ago.
Do you have a favorite artist of the moment?
I’m very excited about an emerging artist from the UK called Ed Burkes. He was awarded a First Class BA from Falmouth University, we featured him in Saatchi Art’s 2016 Invest in Art report introducing some of the most notable graduates of the year, and he’s already been picked to show his work in London at two different exhibitions for the best emerging artists in the UK.
What was the first piece of art you ever purchased?
I bought a triptych of photographs by Idris Khan when he was graduating from the Royal College of Art in London.