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|The Art of Collection |
Anita Choudhrie is the founder of the Stellar International Art Foundation.
by Mrs Anita Choudhrie
LONDON.- It is over 350 years since Vermeer was creating his masterpieces and the art world has changed significantly in that time. Since Picasso, since Pollock, and even more recently Eva Hesse were putting brush to canvas, the art world has evolved and grown. The onset of the internet and growth of contemporary popular art, film, video and electronically produced sound have played a major role in this evolution. Despite such flux, one thing has remained constant: the fundamental impulse to collect and consume art. But what are the qualities of art which drive this? The desire to collect art emerged from a complex amalgamation of connoisseurship and pleasure in artistic creation on the one hand, and investment and status-building on the other. In my view, the former defines a great collector.
When considering the role of art as an investment it is important to ponder the unique qualities and characteristics that art possesses.
Art is cultural
Art collecting has a history that spans millennia. Ancient romans, from Julius Caesar to Pompey the Great, were known for owning a vast array of Greek sculptures and paintings. More recently, the royal and aristocratic collections of the 17th century have provided the foundations for most of the worlds public art collections. Art has always been an inherent part of culture and has the power to bring about great change within societies.
What excites many passionate art patrons is the possibility of developing their own personal taste and interpretation on artworks. By prioritising personal preference over profitability or popularity, a collector can assemble a unique collection and advance the appreciation of a particular artist, the history of art and even its evolution. As a collector myself, and as the founder of the Stellar International Art Foundation (SIAF), I would encourage any buyer to select works according to their personal interest and to consider their purchase in terms of a wider portfolio. In doing so, they will discover a wider narrative with immeasurable cultural and emotional value.
Art creation, collection and contemplation is proven to expand critical thinking and engender a greater tolerance of societies and beliefs around the world. Bridges are built, and barriers broken down. Through exploration of topics such as poverty, racism and sexuality we gain a more profound comprehension of humanity and the variety of people and groups within it. My own Foundation, Stellar, for instance, features work from a vast array of individuals with diverse understandings of the world. Founded in 2008, the global collections provide unique insights into the lives and cultural viewpoints of their artists.
Art is financial
Some collectors will argue that economic and cultural worth cannot be disentangled. This is something my son, Bhanu Choudhrie, posits as a second-generation collector, businessman and investor. Whilst he acknowledges and esteems art as a cultural investment, he also carefully considers the possible long-term returns on investment for the artists themselves and for the collector, in his case the Foundation.
The reality is that in recent years more focus has been given to art as a global financial investment. A report by Deloitte Art and Finance, for instance, revealed that 75% of collectors now purchase art with an eye for long-term investment. Such a dramatic change in sentiment is due partly to the impressive degree of financial growth achieved by the global arts market during the last few years. Online art purchases were estimated to reach $4.7 billion in 2015 and the sale of post war and contemporary art fetched a total of $5.9 billion. Auction records are being broken nearly as soon as they are made, with works by Paul Gaugin and Picasso are fetching over $100m apiece. It is therefore little surprise that many now laud art as a viable form of alternative investment.
Art certainly does make for a viable investment for those wishing to diversify their financial portfolio. As a largely non-correlated asset, it is somewhat impervious to economic uncertainties, especially unpredictable stock markets. However, it must be recognised that involvement with the global arts market necessitates careful consideration of volatile trends, ample diligence and a certain degree of good fortune. In other words, art must be treated as an asset if it is going to act like one. What is more, prediction on future worth can be difficult because an artist and their artwork will always be unique and thus cannot be compared to another and their sales. To yield a significant RIO one must therefore carefully consider which artworks will hold their value and whats more, buying out of season may be advisable.
In my opinion though, collection requires taking a more holistic view of art. Whilst a work may prove to be a worthy financial investment, its value extends much further. The cultural value in art is of a much greater significance. Art is the result of passions and as such is an investment in people and culture, rather than a means by which to deepen our pockets. Though paintings often have a price tag, art itself is priceless.
Anita Choudhrie is the founder of the Stellar International Art Foundation. Currently the Foundation comprises over 600 works dating from the late 19th century to the present day, including international artists, and ranging from paintings to sculptures.
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