Everyone should buy art. But more importantly: everyone should buy art they love.
I’m not saying you should spend $25.9 million on a portrait by Amadeo Modigliani like someone did at Sotheby’s this past Wednesday. I understand how the art market works. I’ve taken enough classes on the history and politics of galleries and auction houses. I understand why a Cezanne sells for $100 million but a struggling artist can’t find a buyer wiling to part with 100 bucks. But I also understand how important art is to everyone, not just the wealthy. Most of us won’t ever have even $1 million to drop on a painting from Christie’s. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t collect art for yourself. Art has value that isn’t monetary as well.
Some people judge new acquaintances by the books on their shelves or the music in their iTunes library. I’m guilty of doing both of these. But the first things I look at when entering a new home are the walls. Your walls should not be empty. I don’t care if you tack candid photographs to cork boards or hang up movie posters with 3m strips like you’re decorating your dorm room (I currently have a Game of Thrones poster adorning my refrigerator, so there’s no judgment here). I don’t care if you prefer sculpture, or canvas, or photography, or glasswork. But you should have something. The art you hang in your home is what tells me what kind of person you are. It should reflect you, and you should love it.
Ever since high school I’ve been building my own collection. I’ve never spent more than $400 on a piece, but I value each and every one as if it were a Matisse (not that I wouldn’t mind having a real Matisse to hang on my wall!). I usually purchase art based on a gut feeling. My second-most recent art purchase is my current favorite, and boy was it a gut feeling.
I tagged along with my parents on a recent vacation in Germany and the Czech Republic, and while in Dresden we spent a few hours tracking down some vintage prints and maps for my mother. It was in a used bookstore near the town center that this monotype caught my eye. And while my parents spent their time comparing prints, I kept returning to the one hanging on the wall. As they gathered up their receipt and purchases, I turned to the store owner and said, “I’ll take it.”
The monotype of the rebuilt Frauenkirche is currently hanging in a place of honor in my apartment. While it is by far the most expensive piece of art I’ve ever purchased, I haven’t regretted it for a minute.
When something speaks to you, you just can’t pass it up.
You should buy art.