Collecting art, especially paintings, drawings and prints is proving to be one of the better investments in this recession. There are well establishes secrets to successful art collecting and investments that make collecting art profitable even during harsh economic times.

The recession has walloped other luxury items such as top of the line cars, jets and  real estate.  Yet art, especially established art by modern and historical masters continues to sell at a fair price.

Unlike the recession of the nineties that saw a great crash in prices, the recent sales at the auction houses were good, surprising doom and gloomers.

The art market today is truly global. There are more buyers than ever before. Even though sales are down and Europe is hit hard by the recession there are more buyers than ever before.

Tip #1 Collect the Renowned Masters of Art pre 1960

Historically, fine art by well respected masters will hold its value. The crash that happened in the recession of the nineties was due to an overly inflated market caused by Japanese investors who paid far too much for works and then as their companies floundered flooded them into the market.

The names of the art masters are well known because they understood to be the world’s greatest artists. In the art of the Western world Van Gogh, Monet, Turner, Rembrandt and Da Vinci are some of the masters.

Rembrandt (Psalm 22)

Judy Rey Wasserman’s Essesce series

What makes an artist a master?

The answer is somewhat of a secret. It is the key to finding artists in one’s own time who are likely to become masters in the future.

All of the greatest artists have influenced other artists since the Renaissance, including the artists of the later part of the Twentieth century and artists today. For instance, one of the most influential artists is J.M.W.Turner. Without his work we would not have Modern or Contemporary Art as we know it.

An artist whose work has, is or will influence others will continue to rise in value and be worth more than a comparably skilled artist of this or any other time. The most splendid of today’s Impressionists lacks the influence of Monet, Degas, Renoir and of course, Camille Pissarro.

Tip # 2 Hold Contemporary Work Owned

In a recession, what does and is losing value – and sales is the contemporary work of living artists. This art is more vulnerable to a recession. The contemporary art of its time may be revered, but that the work of any living – or even recently living artist will hold or increase its value over time is much more of a gamble compared to collecting fairly priced works by revered but long gone artists.

The reports coming in from ARCO indicate that prices are between 15-25% lower now for works of established Contemporary artists. Sales are down as collectors become cautious.

Recently, sales of Warhol prints have faltered. Possibly, like much Contemporary Art they were purchased on speculation, since Warhol seemed hot. The difference between Warhol and many “hot” Contemporary artists is that Warhol’s work has influenced and inspired two, possibly three generations.

A collector who owns Contemporary Art generally is well advised to hold onto it if possible. Prices will go up again for good artists. In time, independent of the economy, they will skyrocket for influential artists.

Tip #3 Discover and Collect Emerging, Cutting Edge Art (How to Do That)

As an investment two dimensional works such as paintings, prints and drawings make the best investments whatever the economy. Given the international nature of the art world works that can easily be transported across a border, stored or displayed make the best investments, if all else is equal.

Investing in three splendid transportable works by an artist beats collecting one equally splendid huge work for the same price. If push comes to shove it is easier to sell a smaller work. What counts most is the quality of the work—is it one of the artist’s best—not the size. This assumes the artist is one worth collecting.

Those headline generating record breaking paintings by Picasso, Klimpt and van Gogh are not huge works of art in size. The Mona Lisa , the best known painting in the world, is not huge.

History teaches us that art that is fashionable and prized in its own time may not become the most valuable art from that time. Visual perception is based on impressions of light received by the brain from the eyes. These impressions are decoded based on memories. What is really new or strange is actually more difficult for us to see as we lack the necessary memories.

Dealers, critics and collectors can fail to appreciate a really new style of painting because it is actually more difficult to see. If an artists’ work is strange and kind of difficult to see—take a second look! Artists who were “difficult” to see and misunderstood include almost all of the world’s great artists!

It can take a generation or two before an artist’s worth can be appreciated fully as great artists—which are the best to collect!—are popular with succeeding generations and also influence the work of other artists who create work that is a next step.

Andy Warhol (Psalm 19)

Judy Rey Wasserman’s Essence series

For instance, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali are two artists’ who work clearly continues to affect and be emulated by other artists. When an artist comes along and creates a whole new way of art, and says two of the artists who influenced her are Warhol and Dali that is meaningful. As the artist gains recognition, smart collectors listen to who are her influencing artists.

There is a great deal of stuff being produced that is a kind of knock-off of the work of Dali and Warhol. That is a different kind of influence. Even if these wanna-be type works show in good galleries or gain acclaim there is no step forward in the evolution of art. As an investment, what seems familiar or much like the work of a revered master is probably not a wise choice.

Law of the Lord is Perfect, 2008
Acrylic and watercolor on canvas
Available through the Kezsler Gallery

Tip #4 Start Small. Wade In. 

Make less costly mistakes by spending less for collectable art.
Collect fine art prints. Fine art prints are limited edition, signed and numbered prints. They can include etchings, screen-prints, lithographs, and Giclée prints. They can be found on an artist’s primary market for living artists and on the secondary market for artists since Renaissance times. If you have found an emerging or contemporary artist whose work you want to collect, search to see if that artist has a website. You may discover originals, but more likely prints available on many artists’ websites. Many artists today sell their paintings through galleries, but reserve prints to sell themselves. An artist’s prints can skyrocket in value over time. Consider the Warhol’s screen-prints!

Genesis Aleph Sunset
Genesis Aleph Sunset by Judy Rey Wasserman. Strokes are original letters from Genesis1-2:7. Limited Edition, hand signed and numbered print. To see a larger image, close ups of the strokes and check availability, click HERE


The question to ask when collecting contemporary art as an investment is, “Will the work of this artist be appreciated by later generations and influence and even help inspire the work of other artists?” For every great artist the answer to this one question is, yes. It is the question that sets great artists apart from all others.

Whether the economy is good or bad, it is difficult to find a better investment than the work of an emerging or established artist whose work and ideas will surely influence artists of the next generation and the future of art – or a fairly priced work by a recognized master whose work has inspired other great artists.

*  *  *

Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art.

Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory is based at the intersection of ancient spiritual wisdom and cutting-edge contemporary science. It shows us a new and enhanced spiritual and science-based way to see the world. It is a life changing vision that can even become an actual new way of seeing that is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Can this be true? See for yourself.

Change the way you see the world through art made of the Word of scripture. Check out the Fine Art Limited Edition prints, decorative prints, books, and printables that are currently available to you through Judy Rey’s Art of Seeing The Divine Shop. You don’t have to buy to avail yourself of the art and inspiration available there. However, if you select to collect investment quality archival art, or decorate your home with images created with strokes that are original letters from Bible texts, or buy a gift for someone special, there is a secure shopping cart that accepts most credit cards so your purchase is easy to accomplish.

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18 Replies to “Recession Proof Art Investment Tips”

  1. Hi,

    I’m trying to put something uplifting about art on my blog. May I borrow the two paragraphs under Law of the Lord’s photo? I think these are great!

    Please email me. Thanks!

  2. Buy art because you like it and it moves you.
    The monetary value of art is the difference of
    what you paid for it and what you sold it for
    (net cash). How long does it take to sell your
    Buy art because it moves you.


  3. Think Chinese Contemporary Art is a great new place to explore and diversify one’s collecting..The Getty is not alone, and is a good indicator of an important trend…I would predict that for the next few years Chinese Contemporary Art will become the next haven for the Chinese, .Although the storm of collecting Chinese Contemporary art started with Europe, it now has rightfully gone back to the Chinese who are now starting to collect and are beginning to understand and catch up with there own art history…..

    Its a matter of time that Chinese Contemporary art will have fully caught up to western prices…. with their collecting base outnumbering europe and the west.
    In the short term—the next 12 to 18 months—there will be good opportunities to buy works by top-tier artists in both painting and photography. By top-tier, I mean the 40 or so who have gained art-historical recognition, have been internationally exhibited, and are being acquired by museums in the West as well as Asia. Historical works by these individuals—the first generation of Chinese contemporary artists, from 1989 through early 2000s—are relatively scarce and will continue to gain value. The global downturn has yielded some attractive pricing, particularly in comparison to top contemporary artists in the West, creating smart buying opportunities. In fact, art funds focusing on Chinese contemporary art have been formed to take advantage of this moment. Museums are also acquiring for their collections.

    Chinese contemporary photography is a buying opportunity. It’s still undervalued relative to painting, which was the focus for collectors for many years. Quality works will become increasingly scarce, particularly as China develops as a consumer society with its own collector base. The Chinese audience with disposable income is growing, and a consistent percentage of those people will become art advocates and collectors.

    The Chinese economy may be slowing down, but it is not in a recession. China will remain among the world’s most attractive investment destinations, and art will continue to parallel this direction. The result is that Chinese contemporary art will weather this economic downturn and will come out as an even stronger player.

  4. i am hoping that the global economy would recover from this economic recession. life has been very hard with these massive job cuts.

  5. the economic recession made a lot of workers jobless. my best friend and me lost our jobs because of job cuts. i hope that our economy would recover soon.

  6. I hope the economy improves soon, too.
    Neither jobs nor investments are sure things. However, over time art has proven to be one of the best investments around.
    At the moment, for real, on my local NY PBS channel is a Independent Lens show on art collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel. The collected a fortune in Contemporaneity and Modern art on a postman’s salary. They accomplished this by collecting artists who were creating groundbreaking works early in their careers before they were well known and recognized.
    Thanks to the Internet it is not difficult to find artists who have new theories of art and are creating revolutionary works. You can do this. Anyone with web access can!

  7. Our country was also hit hard by the Economic Recession. At least we are seeing some signs of economic recovery now. I hope that we could recover soon from this recession.

  8. Our country had been so much affected by this Economic Recession. there are lots of job cuts and company shutdowns. We are seeing some signs of economic recovery right now and we hope that it would continue.

  9. during the height of the economic recession, our online and offline business in the US have suffered some major drop in sales. now our sales are getting slowly back to normal.

  10. economic recession is always a bad part of history, we must avoid it at all cost-`:

  11. They accomplished this by collecting artists who were creating groundbreaking works early in their careers before they were well known and recognized.

  12. A couple weeks ago I heard an economic forecaster on a TV news program suggest that luxury items, including art, may actually enjoy a stronger market appeal as the economy worsens. This caught me off guard and he immediately comandeered my attention.

    It seemed incongruous given the survivalist, staple type products he had just listed that would benefit from an ongoing sluggish economy.

    His explanation… people need beauty, they want to be elevated, especially when they feel oppressed. They don’t want all the bad news to define their experience, and must choose carefully how they will indulge themselves…but indulge themselves they will, unless they simply can not.

    Our job as artists is to respect our clients and potential clients by making the best quality art we are capable of. We need to make what we offer so appealing that people will want to treat themselves if they are able.

  13. it is a good thing that we are almost out of recession, the economic recession really sucks :

  14. As the art industry (along with every other) becomes more globalized, it’s helpful to look in other countries for emerging and cutting edge art. Talented and ground-breaking artists in less developed countries, previously unable to gain recognition outside their own country, are now increasingly able to influence the global market. If you haven’t heard of Alternative Latin Investor, you should look at a few of their art articles. There are a lot of opportunities to invest in cutting edge art in Latin America, and ALI is a helpful tool if you’re wondering when and where to buy:

  15. The art industry is really beauty full. Really nice portal for art seekers.

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