Perhaps more than any other type of art, contemporary art represents a here and now, fluid, high risk/high return opportunity for our investors and collectors.
It is part of a living and breathing culture, a reflection of your take on how you see society today. As a collector, it gives opportunities to commission work from living artists and patronise those that are unknown or emerging. For an investor it provides the thrill of seeking out new talent or being part of an investing elite who ride the wave of an artist’s popularity. It is an area of art investment that is open to all: the small investor as well as the high net worth indiviudual or corporation.
Many museums now have good collections of contemporary art and there are many contemporary art galleries in major cities and regional towns. Contemporary art fairs like Frieze and artists representing themselves in artist run spaces are also good sources for inspiration.
Corporate contemporary art is purchased as a vehicle for investment, tax advantage, sponsorship, marketing, exhibitions, cachet and status. Many contemporary artists and collectors use joint marketing initiatives with fashion designers, restaurants and entertainment companies to promote their work.
There are many contemporary artists that we are all familiar with. How can we fail to recognise the sculpture of Anish Kapoor with the ArcelorMittal Orbit at the Olympic Park in London, Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North in Gateshead, England, and Tracey Emin’s My Bed.
The second half of the twentieth century saw advances in technology that offered new opportunities for the artist. We now see installation artists like Damien Hirst, conceptual artists like Ai Weiwei, video artists like Illya Chichkan, graffiti artists like Banksy and new media artists like Maurice Benayoun. Then there is Jeff Koons who is known for his balloon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror finish surfaces, Gilbert and George a strange duo who produce graphic style photo based works, the environmental installations of Yayoi Kusama and Rachel Whiteread and the conceptual work by sculptor Tom friedman who composes his work of everyday materials such as toothpicks and sugar cubes.
Recognition by such bodies as the Turner prize, the Marcel Duchamp Prize and the Royal Academy, belonging to a ‘group’ or ‘crowd’ like the Young British Artists (referred to as Brit Artists and Britart) and supported by high profile collectors like Charles Saatchi can put a relatively unknown artist on the map very quickly.
The most important thing is to invest in what you like but also to have confidence that what you love can also appreciate in value.