Guidelines for Purchasing Art

Initiating and building a collection may be a challenging task when starting from scratch, therefore Gallery 7 advises new collectors to take the following systematic approach.


1. Educating oneself


Before one sets out with a chequebook, it is advisable to carry out some basic research to educate oneself.  This does not necessarily mean taking a course in Art History, but rather a thorough understanding of one’s likes and dislikes.  While that may seem obvious initially, opinions may change with one’s understanding of the quality and complexity of art.  In order to achieve this, it is advisable to spend at least one month carrying out research before making a purchase.  This may include visiting several established art galleries and making a mental note about the type of art one finds appealing.  It is important to know that there is no right or wrong in understanding art and everyone’s opinion is valid, however, the academic knowledge possessed by gallery owners and art critics may help put things in a historical context and provide a better understanding in terms of the quality, rarity and value of the work, enabling one to make informed decisions, which will be a valuable contribution to the collection.


2. Determine Goals and Establishing a Budget


Once the education process is well underway, it is helpful here to determine one’s goals for purchasing art, whether is it simply trying to fill a blank wall or to make an investment that may be financially beneficial in the future. This will enable the gallerist to offer guidance while establishing a budget.  In either case, it is helpful to narrow down choices according to medium as this is directly related to the amount you are likely to spend on a piece of art. In general, prints and photographs are less expensive than original paintings, however, there are always exceptions to this rule. There are a few things in the marketplace priced as irrationally as art. Although artists and galleries try to fix prices based on the law of supply and demand and what the market will bear, there are always extenuating factors that contribute to the final price. Where the artist is in his or her career range is probably on of the most important factors and also the most difficult to quantify.Furthermore, the quality, medium, size, complexity and cost of production of the piece also play important roles in determining the final sales price.  Ultimately, the bottom line could just as easily be determined by how attached the artist is to a particular piece.  One may gain increased clarity the longer and deeper he or she is immersed in the world of art.


3. Record Keeping


What many collectors don´t realize is that the process is not complete once thecheque has cleared and the piece is hung. There are four basic areas that require attention from all collectors:


(I) Documentation of the Piece


It is important to professionally document each piece of art in a collection. This could prove to be an invaluable resource, should the need arise for restoration, or in the event of damage or theft.  Photos, slides and catalogues must be properly labeled to include:


• The artist´s name

• The title

• The date

• The medium

• The dimensions


(II) Biographical Information


It is also important to keep oneself informed about the artist’s activities, saving and filing related materials including write-ups, reviews, as well as exhibition announcements for each artist in your collection. This will increase the value of the work as an artist´s career develops.  Minimally, we should keep an up-dated biography or artist resume.


(III) Provenance


In most cases, if a piece if art has been purchased directly from a gallery or the artist, the artwork may not been part of any prior exhibitions or collections.  In some cases, however, a specific piece in the collection may have been previously exhibited, published or owned.  This must be recorded accurately and is referred to as the "Provenance."


(IV) Authenticity


It is critical to obtain a Certificate of Authenticity, which is provided by the gallery or artist from whom a piece of artwork has been acquired. This document states that the work is an original and authentic piece of art and that the gallery or artist takes full responsibility for this. This document is generally required at the time of sale or exhibition of the piece of artwork.


Keeping accurate records regarding your collection will allow for immediate access to current information for future exhibitions and sale. It is necessary backup for insurance and tax purposes. As your collection grows, it is a good idea to get a periodic professional appraisal. With great collections comes great responsibility.


Visit the ‘Services’ section of the website for more information on Art Advisory, Art Portfolio Management, Authentication and Valuationof Artworks, Archiving of Private and Corporate Art Collections and other related services provided by Gallery 7. Alternatively, email us at