Not every client we work with has a collection of art waiting in the wings to light a spark of inspiration for a room, or provide the finishing touch at the end of a project. In fact, it’s pretty rare. (That said, I’m working with two family generations right now with an outstanding collection of original art from far corners of the world. The art is a defining element in their interiors and is a delight to work with. Still, this is a unique situation.)
If you’re like most of our clients, you fall into one of these situations:
a) You have inherited some pieces from your parents, and appreciate those, but want to find your own art preferences (and may be suffering from the guilt associated with receiving pieces from family members that you’re not sure you really like anyway)
b) You’re building a summer home, so any art you have in your primary residence will stay there and you’ll need art that’s appropriate to a more casual, relaxed interior but aren’t sure how to translate what you like to your new getaway home
c) You’ve been so busy growing your business and raising your children, that art is not a priority. Now, you’re building your forever home and know you’ll need something on the walls, but aren’t sure how to start thinking about what you like, and what you don’t.
Case in point: I met with clients earlier this week and when reviewing the plans for their new home, we came to an elevation of a wall where I had drawn in a suggested size for artwork. Their eyes got wide because the idea of thinking about art is too much to handle right now with the myriad of decisions in front of them (even as stress-free as we make the design process!). Thinking about art is not something they enjoy and right now feels like an enormous amount of pressure. I completely understand. To help, I suggested we install patterned wallpaper in that area to relieve the pressure. One less room to think about, when the time comes to finish with art.
So, fresh from my return from Art Basel Miami Beach last weekend, I’m here with suggestions to help you start thinking about art – when you’re ready. And don’t worry, I’m not a fan of the banana art from Art Basel, so that will never appear in my recommendations (!).
Here’s what I suggest you do to help determine your taste in art:
#1 — See a lot. Visit galleries, museums and open studio events. Make a date with your spouse one Sunday afternoon every few months to visit the galleries and museums close to you. If that’s not the way you want to spend your Sunday afternoons, book a getaway weekend to concentrate your art exploration. Visiting galleries and studios serves you in two ways. First, seeing a lot of art will help you understand your preferences and answer the question, ‘what kind of art do I like?”. You will begin to understand the different periods of art, artistic styles and types of medium. Second, establishing a relationship with with gallerists will help you when it comes time to purchase later on.
Pro tip, if you’re a New Englander: My favorite art weekend getaway is to North Adams, MA in the Berkshires. Take in modern art at Mass MoCA and the extensive collection at The Clark. When at The Clark, be sure to walk up the hill to the Lunder Center, and while in town, stay at Porches for a stylish stay. Leave time for art gallery strolling in Williamstown, too.
Consider attending an art fair. Art Basel Miami last weekend was an incredible opportunity to see an enormous amount of modern art not only at the Art Basel fair, but the satellite fairs throughout Miami during Art Week. I found that after pouring through art at the Art Basel and Untitled art fairs, I was delighted to see more objects, sculpture and smaller scale installations at the Design Miami fair, which was a clue into my own art preferences.
Equally exciting, The Rubell Museum opened in Miami last week, showcasing the family’s collection of thousands of modern art pieces. It also houses an artist-in-residence program, providing the wonderful opportunity to meet Ghana artist Amoako Boafo.
| Amoako Boafo
| The Rubell Museum’s outdoor cafe, complete with indigenous plants from the Everglades that attracted birds and butterflies within days of planting. Beyond, is the site of a Dior party in the warehouse across the street, adorned with street-style art in the iconic Dior brand colors. Brilliant.
| The Untitled art fair last week in Miami Beach
#2 — Understand what’s important to you. I have long standing clients who are discovering their art preferences now, after building a new home a few years ago and retiring – thereby freeing up time to travel, take in art and understand their taste.
Through their experiences and showing them pieces of art over the years to consider, we’ve come to learn what’s important to them: the craftsmanship. The detail and level of precision is what they are attracted to. Art that is an extension of craft, with evidence of the artist’s deep understanding of the medium is what they value.
Or, perhaps you’re a person who wants art to emotionally take you to new and different places. You may appreciate getting lost in piece, but need it to be pictorial so that you can relate and escape. If so, landscapes would be a better fit than an abstract piece of art.
For other clients, investing in art that contributes to their growing collection is most important. They are keenly aware of their ceramics collection and what two dimensional art will complement their three dimensional, textural works.
| taste client residence
#3 — Stick with your people. If modern art appeals to you, consider buying from your generation. Get to know the artists in your area, their place in life and find those you may consider to be contemporaries.
“Someone wise once told me that when it comes to acquiring art, you should buy from your contemporaries because they speak your cultural language”
-Elle Macpherson in the December 2019 issue of AD.
Look for opportunities to meet artists one-on-one at local galleries and opening receptions. When meeting artists, be sure to ask about their influences, their journey and what the work means to them. If you can’t attend an opening, ask the gallerist to share more about the artist and their interactions with that artist, for a more personal perspective.
Pro tip if you’re a New Englander: Get to know gallerist Candita Clayton. Candita represents many artists I consider my contemporaries, including personal favorites like Michael Rich and Alyn Carlson.
| Alyn Carlson
| Michael Rich
#4 — Get personal. Get to really know the artist you’re supporting. Knowing the artist personally brings a level of intimacy and value that goes beyond the visual interest in their work. You gain a better understanding of their inspiration, creative process and trials and tribulations to creating art.
Think your artist relationships are limited to locals? Think again. Favorite clients of ours have formed a relationship with South African artist Karen Bezuidenhout after seeing her work during their travels. Her work graces their home and when designing their boat, we had the artwork photographed to become the image on the television art screen.
| Karen Bezuidenhout’s work aboard Nakupenda.
| Karen Bezuidenhout
There you have it. A primer on getting comfortable with the idea of acquiring original art.
Enjoy the journey and reach out with questions along the way. I like to talk about art almost as much as houses (!).
Only the best,