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Contemporary Art for Novices

Updated on November 11, 2015

Buying Contemporary and Modern Art

Where are the bext places to source good contemporary art at an affordable price? Sadly many people just pick up a painting at their local department store as an after-thought when they realise their walls are looking a bit bare. But it is worth knowing which types of art to avoid - the types that are "fashionable" and which you will quickly tire of. There are a number of important considerations if you want to own an artwork that you will love for a long time to come.

Lovers Knot by Christine Wilson
Lovers Knot by Christine Wilson

Advice and Tips on Buying Contemporary and Modern Art

At an art exhibition or fair, make sure you view everything on display before you make any decisions about buying any of the art. If something particularly catches your eye go back to it later for a more critical appraisal. Think about where you will display the art and from what distance you will be viewing it - does it still look as good? Remember that you should only buy a piece of contemporary art if you LOVE it. Never rush into buying a piece of art but also remember to trust your instincts - if you are immediately attracted to a piece and it looks just as good at a second viewing then don't miss out - if you can afford it - BUY IT!

As long as the main reason for buying a piece of art is that you love it then don't worry what others think, have confidence in your own opinion and judgement as you will be living with your choice for years to come.

There has been a resurgence of interest in paintings in the past few years and there is no denying that people generally want to own paintings rather than, say, sculpture or ceramics. Paintings generally fit more easily into our homes or offices. But the style of painting is really a matter of personal choice. Whether the medium is oil, acrylic, mixed media or watercolour or the style abstract, landscape or figurative art, simply choose what appeals to your visual and inner senses and that will be good art.

Artists and galleries are, of course, keen to sell their work but they also want to know that you are as passionate about a piece as they are. So spend some time talking to the artist or gallery owner about what exactly attracts you to a particular piece. They are more likely to sell to you for a good price if they know their art is going to a good home.

Although there is always room for negotiation on the price of an original artwork, remember that an artist will not only have put lots of time into their work but also their energy, emotions and passion. But choose well, and the potential increase in value over time could be substantial if the artist becomes better known.

Top Tips:

- Only buy contemporary art you LOVE.

- The more art you view the more discerning and selective you will become.

- Persevere with your search because the thrill of finding that perfect piece of art will be worth it.

- Avoid animals and portraits if you are looking for an increase on your art investment.

Pop Art – A Brief Introduction

Pop Art is difficult to define because artists of this genre used many new and different techniques to those used prior to the 1950s when Pop Art first started to appear. But the one common theme that all Pop Art has is that it features items and images from popular culture.

Some of the most well-known artists of the Pop Art phenomenon, such as Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, were born in the 1920s which was a boom time in the USA with money to spare and jazz music starting to make it's mark. But in 1929 the stock market crashed and the US entered a depression that lasted until the mid-1930s. Perhaps the most famous of all pop artists, Andy Warhol, was born at the beginning of that depression.

So these artists grew up in a fast changing world that went from boom to bust to World War II in little over 10 years. By the time the war ended, they were still young and during the 1950s people again started to have some extra money available to spend on the endless stream of new products that were starting to appear.

And it was the design and advertising of these new products that the artists were commenting on, and influenced by, in a way that no previous generation of artists had been. They tried to use ordinary consumer items in their work to encourage people to view them differently. They also positioned common items in unusual ways to make people take notice of them.

Other common themes in Pop Art were comic books and the famous people of that era such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, who will be forever associated with Warhol's work. Warhol used screen printing techniques for his work and usually made several copies of the same image.

But what the artists sought to highlight was the way famous people were treated as objects in the same way as products were in advertising with all sense of their individuality removed. Although many pop artists were unwilling to give meaning to their work, and even those who posed questions with their art, left those same questions unanswered. Jasper Johns, famous for his series of paintings showing the American flag, famously questioned whether his own work was art or just a flag.

So what are the characteristics of Pop Art?

Just as the world in which we live is endlessly varied, so Pop Art used a variety of techniques but the common characteristics that define works as Pop Art are as follows:

Graphic Style: Clearly defined shapes and colours with hard edges such as the Lichtenstein comic book styles and David Hockney's works.

Funny and Lighthearted: Rejecting the rather serious approach of earlier artists.

Everyday Products and Brands: including foodstuffs, cars and images from advertising and films.

Collage: and also different techniques within one work.

No Perspective: Flat two-dimensional works are very common.

Mechanical Techniques: silk-screen printing was used to create different versions of the same image.

The Advantages of Buying Limited Edition Art

Are there any advantages to buying a Limited Edition Art Print?

How can you be sure a piece of Limited Edition Art is authentic and high-quality. And is it likely to increase in value or, at least, hold its value over time? Many of us choose to buy Limited Edition Prints because they are much more affordable than original paintings and we hope they will increase in value ove time. But how discerning are we when we make a choice? The quality of printing can vary enormously as can the number of prints in the edition and don't forget the Certificate of Authenticity. So next time you are considering buying a Limited Edition be sure to double check these details before you part with your cash.check

The Advantages of Buying Limited Edition Art.

Contemporary artists, just like all artists before them, will have invested an enormous amount of emotional energy, physical effort and creativity into their work and they all want to have their art appreciated and enjoyed by as many people as possible. One way to make this possible is by the production of Limited Edition prints of their work.

Limited Edition Art Prints have very much become part of our modern society because they make good contemporary art accessible and affordable to a much wider audience than had previously been possible. During the last 50 years producing Limited Edition Prints has become a standard part of an artist's career for this very reason. Even the best and most celebrated artists of our time have created Limited Editions of their work and these should not be regarded as inferior substitutes for an original piece of art but a way to enjoy a piece of exceptional art in your own home.

Current trends in art buying are becoming more and more associated with the decorative merit of a piece rather than collecting art for its own appeal. Many buyers will spend substantial sums on an original painting simply because it matches their décor or, conversely, spend very little on a piece with no artistic merit because it matches their sofa or cushions. It is a shame that very few people first buy art that they love and then use the artwork as the inspiration for their décor. But where these two apparently conflicting approaches actually come together is in the purchase of Limited Edition Art – the buyer or collector can obtain a piece that has artistic merit and a certain amount of exclusivity but is still affordable and, therefore, can be replaced when the décor is changed without too much angst. The artist, obviously, also benefits from the sale of reproductions as they can start to establish or increase their reputation as more of their works become known to the art–buying public.

Advances in technology mean that giclee prints are now far superior to the traditional lithographs used for Limited Edition Art in the past. Up to date printing processes result in an image that has richness and depth of colour as well as superb resolution which can reveal brush strokes and the texture of the original canvas. For substantially less than the cost of a good quality piece of original contemporary art, you can have an exclusive, high-quality artwork.

An added advantage is that art publishers only produce Limited Editions of works that they regard particularly highly and that they believe have investment potential. The publishers know what sells well and, therefore, can potentially increase in value. So there is no risk of buying a high-priced original that may not retain its value when buying a Limited Edition. Bear in mind that just because an artwork is original it is not necessarily of high quality and does not necessarily have much originality, whereas a Limited Edition will only be produced from the highest quality original artwork.

Limited Edition reproductions are far superior to mass-produced modern art prints both in the printing process, the quality of the inks and the quality of the canvas or paper substrate. And when produced to Fine Art Trade Guild standards the inks and substrate are assured of being of the very highest quality.

As well as the assurance of quality printing, all genuine Limited Editions will have a numbered Certificate of Authenticity signed by the artist as an indication of the artist's approval of the piece and of its authenticity.

The satisfaction of owning a genuine piece of art of which very few exist is huge, and the opportunity to do this at an affordable cost are the main advantages of investing in Limited Edition Art Prints.

Children Find Art Exciting Too...

Art can bring history to life

Art can be used to inject new vigour into subjects such as history. In front of a larger than life painting by Turner, shipbuilding, wars and sea battles from the past come to life. John Singer Sargent's "Gassed" or Sir Stanley Spencer's "The Resurrection of the Soldiers" can bring real meaning to wars from the last century to children unlikely to meet anyone with a personal memory of that time. They can create excitement about a subject that can often seem to have little meaning to young children.

Inspiring Children's Imaginations using Art

How can you inspire children to respond creatively to paintings or indeed to any art form?

Visiting a major gallery such as London's Tate Britain, can be the best start. The sheer scale and quantity of artworks is enough to inspire awe in even the most seasoned gallery visitor but in the eyes of a 5 year old child it is just overwhelming - in the very best possible way.

The beauty of taking children to visit great works of art is that they have no pre-conceptions about what they are seeing. They don't know the reputation or history of the artist or of the painting or other artwork. When they comment on a work it is an entirely natural opinion untroubled by doubt over what they "should" think or "should" like.

And there really is no substitute for seeing a painting in real life. However familiar a famous image might be from mass-produced greetings cards or posters, nothing compares to the scale, colour, texture and sheer beauty of great art in the flesh.

Public Art Galleries such as Tate Britain are aware of how art is also a fabulous tool in aiding learning - it can help to unlock children's imaginations freed from the constraints of words and writing. Young children just learning to read and write often can't truly express their feelings or what's in their imaginations with words, either verbally or using pencil and paper, but they can do so with paints and paintbrushes.

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    • tsadjatko profile image

      3 years ago from now on

      Great tips! I would ONLY be looking for an increase in my investment but to the contrary I would likely gravitate toward animals and portraits, so I appreciate your advice.

    • SCArt LM profile imageAUTHOR

      SCArt LM 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for that - I will split this up then - it was done a while ago and probably need a refresh anyway...

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 

      3 years ago from London

      I've got long experience (10 years) of writing blog posts and one topic/one blog post has worked for me for 10 years

      The thing is if you have multiple topics you also have multiple target audiences. So if you have 4 topics in 1 hub the chances are that at least 3 of them might not want to read all your hub - which will give you a high bounce rate

    • SCArt LM profile imageAUTHOR

      SCArt LM 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for your comment makingamark - I can't decide whether to throw everything at 1 hub or make more smaller ones. I think I'll head over to the forum for some advice from others with more experience than me!

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 

      3 years ago from London

      You have at least four different topics suitable for hub status in this hub.


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