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Beyond the Brushstrokes: The Value of Owning a High-Quality Artwork

Updated: May 21, 2023

Investing in art can be a complex decision, especially when considering abstract pieces that may not have an immediately recognizable subject matter. An abstract work to me, has the temporality of a film. You wouldn't know what it was about in the first five minutes of looking at it - its meaning unfolds overtime. And as the work breathes life into our space, we begin to discern feelings, figures, forms that emerge out of the interstices between the viewer and the work.

Slow Art

In our age of overstimulation, we have grown used to hyper-definition, the clarity of screens, the gloss of magazines. We want thick, bold lines that tell us what to look at, where to look, and when. Abstract art often blurs these lines and demands a patience we have become so unpracticed in exercising. It takes time for coherence to emerge, for a line to gain meaning, for the painting to be able to tell its story, but its this kind of slow looking that we are calling for. I think about the feeling of looking at Richter's six Cage paintings in the Tate. A kind of synaesthesia takes over as in the process of. looking, you hear also hear its music, and the forms overlap one another as though they are alive.

Fast Art

I think about how, the older I get, the harder it is to initiate truly original conversations (although part of getting older is I suppose coming to terms with your lack of originality - and being able to shamelessly point this out perhaps). But a truly great abstract artwork can evoke powerful emotions in the viewer, stimulating thoughts, ideas and conversations that might not have been possible without that specific piece. It also provides a warmth and depth of atmosphere to a setting that just makes people feel comfortable and at home. It puts people into an environment in which it is possible to open up - when a space feels alive, so do we.

A Sound Investment

I won't overlook the fact that art is a sound investment. While it's true that the value of art can fluctuate depending on market trends and other external factors, there are many examples of abstract artworks that have appreciated significantly in value over time. For example, "Composition No. III, with Red, Blue, Yellow, and Black" by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, was not recognized as a masterpiece until many years after its creation (think - that slow looking I was advocating earlier). In 1969, it was sold at auction for $110,000, which was then a record price for a Mondrian painting. Today, "Composition No. III" is estimated to be worth over $50 million, making it one of the most valuable abstract artworks in the world. However, while the potential financial gain from investing in art may be a tempting prospect, it is important for art investors to also consider their personal connection and appreciation for the artwork. As Oscar Wilde once said, "Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation."

The value of a piece of art lies not in its material worth but in the emotions and ideas it evokes, the skill required to create it, and the relationship it can create with its viewer and their wider world. Post-COVID I think we've all learnt how to really enjoy and appreciate being at home in a way we did not before. A piece of art that resonates with us can make the spaces we are in, true reflections of ourselves - and when we feel like our outside settings mirror our inner landscapes, well, there is just an ineffable and deeply human warmth to that.

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