Art, An Investment For The Future Or Pleasure For The Present

David Tatham

Can a painting be seen purely as a decorative item or as an investment. Indeed an old master painting hanging in the National Gallery has long passed its original point of being a visual representation, and has transformed into being an investment purely for its own sake. On the other hand, a work in oils of a local scene may never reach a higher value than its original sale price yet still bring pleasure to its owner.

When paintings are used as a way of making money it is generally assumed that they will be locked away from the public eye, or to preserve their integrity. Such work then becomes a mere vehicle for realizing profit. These masters, selling for many millions of pounds can only be purchased by those rich enough sometimes with more spending power than sovereign states. These are certainly far beyond the means of an average art lover.So is there scope for the small investor to purchase a piece of art that will not only give pleasure but hopefully increase in value.

The answer is positive and with the aid of a discerning eye and some degree of care, work by a fledgling artist can be discovered long before that person becomes famous. One source of new artists is at exhibitions held at Universities displaying works by their students prior to graduation.Works of art, whatever the medium used or the subject, are easily and readily available. Most major towns and cities boast galleries where work can be viewed and purchased.Most galleries will display works by a variety of artists, occasionally holding exhibitions showing work by an up and coming painter or one more established.

However there are other venues available where artwork is readily available. These would include street markets where aspiring hopefuls will display their works and many bargains can be found, especially where the love of art is foremost. Nor should local exhibitions be ignored, they often display paintings by amateurs, many are of a very high standard equalling those of their professional counterparts.

The subject choice is down to the purchaser in the end. Some subjects prove to be better investments than others. The wise investor with an eye on market trends will choose a subject that over time will prove to be in demand. An example would be of wildlife subjects being more in demand than a portrait, unless the subject of the latter is a famous person. However the buyer may effectively choose to buy a specific item just because that person likes it and financial returns are of secondary importance. Sometimes even original art can be too expensive for the average person. In this case consideration should be given to the signed limited edition prints. Perfect in every way to the original, these prints are restricted to a small run, the less the number printed, the higher the initial cost, but with a higher resale value. This is an excellent way to acquire works by a sought after artist but within a limited budget.

In the final analysis, the choice of whether art is a matter of investment or of ornamentation, will depend on the purchaser. It is a risky means of long term gain but if the artwork is appreciated then the enjoyment must be taken into account as well. If it is acquired simply because of the pleasure it brings to the new owner then the picture in itself is priceless.

David Tatham, fine picture dealer for more than quarter of a century, has an extensive knowledge of the biography L.S.Lowry. Signed, prints and drawings can be seen and purchased from the Lowry website

Windsor Oak
Brompton Square1
elephant-signed-framed, print
original, lions, pencil