Buying a Painting is Easier Than Buying a Car

23 Mar

Emergence, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Bought a car lately?

How about a painting?

On a regular basis, Americans buy new cars. We know one woman who turns her model in every three years for a fresh one – personally, I think replacing the New Car Aroma Tree would be cheaper.

People buy paintings, too – obviously not for the same reason – and what is intriguing is that, for the amount a new car costs versus that of a decent painting by an emerging or mid-career artist, people demand far more of the painting than they do of the car.

For example, with a car, many people focus on color, style, silhouette, stereo system, upholstery, mag wheels, alloy rims – in other words, “like” factors – as opposed to the long-term sustainability of the purchase.

Indeed, most buyers realize  — and accept – that the value of this major purchase will depreciate an instant 30 percent 10 minutes after signing the papers.

And yet not only do people sign the papers, they do so with the expectation that they will be back in three to 10 years, ready to do it all over again. Despite its expense, a new car is not a lifetime investment, and nobody expects it to be.

Show these people a painting, however, and all of a sudden the “like” factor that is so much a part of deciding whether to sign on to five years of car or lease payments is shoved into the background, and the immediate questions become:

“Will it appreciate in value?”

“How much and how soon?”

“Is this artist internationally famous or likely to become so?”

What happened to,

“I like this. I like the color, the feeling, the subject matter. The price is reasonable and I want to wake up every morning looking at this painting.”

On the Horizon, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

For too long, people have been conditioned to thinking that they know nothing worth knowing about art, and that they are therefore unqualified to make an intelligent decision about its purchase.

Never mind that the average person knows very very little about the workings of a car, when it comes to art the message is, if you don’t speak the artiste lingo lengua, then you have no business imagining that your walls can be filled with the color and originality and emotion and joy of original artwork which you have selected simply because you like it.

Part of this attitude can be laid squarely in the lap of the elite art world itself, which for years — especially in the abstract camp — has maintained a sense of cool superiority, sneering at well meaning, ordinary people who ask, “So, why is this worth $30,000? In all honesty, it looks like something an 8-year-old would do.”

Rather than address the logic behind the statement (“It’s a red canvas — with blue dots in the middle and a yellow line across the top – where is the artistic skill?” or, in the case of a “representational” work — “Why is the head so out of proportion with the rest of the body?”) – a select yet aggressive few have denigrated the intelligence of a potential purchasing base, attacking them for honest questions as many of them seek to understand what makes good art, and why some work costs $35,000, while another piece, which they like very much, is $650.

Bainbridge Island Sail-by, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Regular, ordinary, everyday good people – unite!

Ask your questions. Allow yourself to think about owning original art. Find a work or an artist that you like, and see about the possibility of owning some of his or her work – most emerging and mid-career level artists, who charge reasonably for their work, are willing to talk finances. Decent ones will also answer your questions about their paintings.

Don’t let anyone – artist, artiste, critic, critique – make you feel stupid for asking questions.

Don’t settle for a poster or a print. Get an original – a one of a kind piece that only you own.

And get something that you like.

That’s a good enough – and probably the best – reason buy a painting.


2 Responses to “Buying a Painting is Easier Than Buying a Car”

  1. R Yvonne Colclsure April 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    I think this post should go “viral” (am I hip or what?)

    I love your blogs….your common sense approach to real life seasoned with the spice of humor make me want to read everything you write. The Norwegian is a pretty good artist too. 🙂

    In all seriousness, may I post a link to this post on my blog? I know, my blog and my website titles are toooo long.

    Thanks for the smiles you bring to my face even on dreary days.

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