The practice of gathering and appreciating works of art is not the exclusive realm of experts or patrons of the arts. The profitability of investments in art objects became notable in the world economy with the unprecedented prices paid in the 1980s for works by painters such as Van Gogh, Picasso and Renoir, and has continued more recently with the sale of a nude by Modigliani, one of the most expensive pieces in history.

The delight in gathering together a group of objects is almost always an indication of a love for collecting. At the same time, it is important for collectors to distinguish between genuine pieces and the many others that are presented as art. Both in private institutions, such as national and regional museums and other public institutions, and in the homes of individuals who are dedicated to collecting art themselves and are considered private collectors, there is an interest in correctly identifying works and determining historical chronology in the art world, regardless of whether it is local, regional or international.

More and more people are collecting because of their interest or for pleasure, and in some cases for social status or simply as an investment. Art collecting has erupted onto the world scene in recent years. Globalization has affected collecting in broad strokes from two perspectives: first, in a liberating way, in which globalization is seen as an influence that eliminates limiting borders and creates a more glocal (global + local) perspective. The second perspective is the opposite, in which a trend toward homogenization has emerged that also tends to eliminate borders but with “polarized interests” that emphasize differences. This is not necessarily positive, because cultural works are directly affected by the influence of the auction houses and excessive publicity. For this reason, some say that the buzz about collecting has changed from a perspective of acquiring art works based on personal taste or whim to a business decision.

Critics and curators in general agree, however, that the people who collect art do so because they value the culture, because they love the art by a great artist in particular or because they want to acquire a certain prestige. Despite that, there is still skepticism toward works that fall outside the norm. The value of a work of art is determined when the artist puts his work against that of other artists of the world, when his talent and determination win approval in exhibitions in important museums and invitations to biennial exhibitions, international fairs, and when critical attention to the work surpasses the local.

Although the terms collecting and investing are often closely related, there are significant differences among individual collectors. It can therefore be difficult to determine whether the collector is motivated by pleasure or by profit.



Author: Dalila Rodríguez
Published: December 20, 2011.

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