Should you purchase art with or without regard to its investment potential? That is a very good question. Art advisers would suggest that before you buy any art, you should investigate its provenance — or at least consider it very seriously. An item’s provenance refers to documentation about the piece to include its origin, historical information, previous owners, etc. — anything that establishes the trail back to the artist. Other factors to consider are published reviews about the artist or particular piece, documentation on how much the particular artist’s work typically sells for, who has purchased the work, has it been sold at auction, and if so, the selling price, etc. The assumption being once you’ve gathered this information and can support its value, you may then give yourself the “green light” to make the purchase and have some confidence that it has potential for financial return.

WarholOther advice you might hear from an expert is to determine if the art is deemed “good”. Because art is subjective, it would seem that would be very hard to establish. The work may have received critical acclaim, been well received in the show circuit, and some individual pieces may even stand out above the rest in the artist’s catalog, and the art and artist might be classified as “very collectible”— but does that make it “good”? We would agree, that from an investment perspective, these are serious considerations.

If you’re a first time buyer, you might find these details very confusing, complicated, and maybe even controversial. The truth is that every aspiring and working artist wants their work to be in demand and command as  high a price as possible. But most artists would also say that they want their art to be appreciated and sought after as much for its aesthetic attributes. After all, an artist first picks up a paint brush, kneads a hunk of clay or carves a block of wood for the sheer joy of creating something out of nothing. It cannot be denied that the feeling of having created something with a fingerprint individual only to that artist, doesn’t have a price tag.

And then there another reason to buy art — for its sheer beauty and the pleasure it gives you every time you look at it. Do you get lost in the color, the scene, the texture? Are you in awe on how the piece was executed? Do emotions rise up in you when you see the piece; does it reveal memories like nothing else can? If you answer yes to any of these questions, consider that art purchased based on emotion has as much value as that purchased by algorithm. We would validate the argument that if you intend to see it and live with it every day, you want to select artwork that moves you and delights you every time you encounter it. We would also agree there is satisfaction in knowing if you ever wanted or needed to sell your art, you would realize a return. In the end, whether based on an investment outcome or pure aesthetics, we hope your art collection, first and foremost, brings a smile to your face!

To learn more about how Herb and Dorothy Vogel amassed their very extensive art collection, read our blog “Two unlikely art collectors” . If you want to shop for art because it moves you explore the hundreds of artists websites all very the web.

Of course there’s room for a blend of these approaches. If you would like to learn more about art investing, here are a couple of interesting articles to check out:

The Top-Performing Alternative Investments: Fine Art

Forbes Magazine: Ten Expert Tips For Investing in the Art Market

From $1000 to $15,000,000—read an interesting article on Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans”.