Many collectors and investors choose modern art paintings because they are the cutting edge of art today. They reflect the energy of today’s world and serve as barometers against the ever changing art scene. They can also become significant investments if they are created by an up and coming modern artist and bought early in their career.
The reason modern art paintings become successful today is the same reason Picasso’s paintings were successful in his day. The art scene is full of movements over time. These movements are usually reactions to previous contemporary art practices of the previous eras. For example the Impressionist artists the world over developed a completely revolutionary way of creating great works in their era. Instead of painting inside studios as had been the custom for hundreds of years, Impressionist painters from around the world such as Claude Monet, Pierre- Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne in France, and in Australia, Tom Roberts, Fredrick McCubbin, Jane Sutherland, Charles Conder, and Authur Streeton took their palettes outside and captured the light in “plein air” in completely new ways with colour. In the late nineteenth century, these were ground breaking modern art paintings at their best. Today these paintings are revered the world over for what they brought to the art world at the time.
However if you put a Monet beside a Jackson Pollock, you will see the amazing differences in conceptual development, technique and practice in paintings. This is a reflection of the development of art over time. Modern art works are successful because they break new artistic ground and show us our world in new and fresh ways. Today, some think current practices are not a reaction to previous genres but a totally different attitude to making art .
Many savvy collectors invest in modern art paintings. They choose to invest in these over traditional paintings for the reasons I outlined above. It is great to be part of an art movement, whether as an artist or someone who collects the art of the time. As a collector it is most exciting to invest in an artist’s work when they are young in their career and emerging in the art world. The excitement lies in knowing you are onto something that will pay big dividends in the future. It is always a gamble, however there are usually some indications that these paintings will be a great investment. The other reason people invest in young and upcoming modern artists is they have an emotional resonance with the particular modern art paintings they purchase. Throughout time, artists have always relied on collectors following their work and investing in it. Back in the days of Michelangelo, it was the Catholic church who collected his modern art paintings. These days it can be wealthy collectors, celebrities, artists themselves, art lovers and just about anyone who collects art works of modern artists.
I believe everyone should hang modern art paintings in their home. Each new development in the art world needs to be supported by the people living in the world at that time. However, art is a very personal matter and highly subjective. What one person loves in a painting, another will absolutely loathe. The art works I have collected from fellow artists I have bought because I love them and I also love to support fellow artists. I would not buy something I did not like simply to make money on it in the future as I have to live with the art in my home. I also buy from artists I believe are still emerging and have not yet been discovered but have the potential to do really well in the future. The best way to approach collecting modern art is to combine personal taste and with business savvy. Remember you may have this hanging on your wall for years, so if you are not a fan of Damien Hirst’s self portrait with severed head image, then don’t buy it.
There are many reasons we can be shocked by modern art . The themes are not that different to some of the themes presented in art paintings over the last few hundred years. Death, life, love, sex and animals. However today, it is their presentation that can cause people to feel shocked. The fact that Damien Hirst uses a real dead sheep, encases it in a glass box filled with formaldehyde and stages it in a gallery causes a different emotional reaction than a neo classical painting of a sheep being killed for sacra-religious purposes. There has been a growing irreverence in modern art since the 1980’s and 90’s and it somewhat reflects the state of our society today. Cynicism has played a key role in the modern art of the last 30 years. Not all of it is shocking, it can be subtle, witty, humorous, clever or simply beautiful. Whichever way you look at it modern art paintings cause us to stop and stare and wonder about life today as we know it. They resonate or shock because of the values we place on the subject matter involved in the art and our reaction to it is based in our personal belief systems, life experiences, relationships and the world we as we know it.