How to Train Your Eye to Collect Quality Art

KatherineArt Collecting Advice, Helpful TipsLeave a Comment

Francis Silva painting

Ackerman’s Fine Art always advises clients to buy the best quality art they can afford.  Quality may mean different things to different viewers.  The elements that contribute the quality of a work of art may also vary depending on the art movement.  It’s important to train your eye to recognize pieces of art with exceptional quality.  Here are a few guiding principles to educate your eye and mind to determine the quality of a piece of artwork.

Educate Your Eye

View a lot of work by an artist you are interested in from different stages in their career.  Know how representative a piece is in terms of the artist’s style and strengths.  This will help you determine which works are the best examples overall.  Generally, an artist’s prime period of production as a mature artist is the best quality.  Also look at an artist’s peers working in the same style.  You will begin to see differences in quality of skill and execution.  Knowing the history of a work related to others by a particular artist or group of artist working in a common style can help you understand the potential value of the work both aesthetically and historically.

Study a works composition carefully.  Consider how successful the artist has been drawing the viewer’s eye over the surface and how well an artist’s intensions are expressed.  Overall balance and design of a composition contribute to the quality of work and lasting interest with viewers.

The condition of a piece will also prove an essential part of determining quality. Over time, artwork will naturally degrade, and poor attempts at restoration and conservation as well as any damage a piece may have sustained will impact its quality. The idea is that the better preserved a piece is, the closer it will align with the artist’s original intent, which is meant to be conserved by those who own, collect, and care for artwork.

Educate Your Mind

Information and education are key to any successful collecting journey.  Education comes with looking at catalogue raisonnés and attending as many museum and gallery exhibitions as you can.  Ask questions of art dealers, curators and other collectors to get multiple perspectives of an artist’s work.  There are many wonderful resources online and trade magazines to subscribe to as well.

Provenance and exhibition history are also important aspects in the effort to determine the quality of a piece. Both previous ownership and past exhibitions can indicate a degree of selective interest, relevancy, and significance. These in turn impact the judged quality of a piece.

Finally, as you select artwork for your personal collection, be cognizant of where it falls in the spectrum of an artist’s work, who has owned it in the past and where it has been displayed, as well as its condition. All of these factors will help you to determine the relative quality of a piece, and whether it is a worthwhile investment.

For more information about how to judge the quality of artwork and selecting pieces for your collection, please call Ackerman’s Fine Art at (800) 791-6509 or send us an inquiry via email:

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