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15th Oct 2021

What is Fine Art?  How is it a Good Investment?

Fine Art is a form of inspirational and/or aesthetically appreciated visual communication that can always be understood as a kind of investment.

Fine Art is Always an Investment for its Owner.

All fine art, from an image hastily cut from a magazine or a fuzzy pixelated copy printed from a jpeg (for instance a framed image of the Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa hanging on the wall of an RV) to a famous masterpiece painting by a world-renowned Renaissance artist for instance Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa owned by and hanging in the Louvre Museum is an investment for its owner-collector. In other words, whatever a person conceives as being art may be an investment for that person.

Can a Person Who Owns a Magazine Image of the Mona Lisa

be Considered an Investor?

The Mona Lisa is said to be the most famous, most recognized painting in the world. Chances are then that you, dear reader, have seen the Mona Lisa, or at least a photograph or image of some sort of the Mona Lisa. At the first mention of the Mona Lisa above, perhaps an image, a memory of the Mona Lisa came to mind. If this is true for you, then at some point, consciously or unconsciously, willingly, or unwillingly you spent at least a moment of you time looking at an image of the Mona Lisa

Art – any art that a person sees is always investment in time and attention. The investment of one’s time may be intentional or unintentional. Whatever, eyeballs on art – viewing art – is always an investment of time, which is life.

We are bombarded by art daily, or at least various forms of images that others may consider to be visual art, even fine art. Thanks to the internet, social media, digitized books, magazines, advertisements, plus readily and even freely available printed materials, we see more fine art than any individual, including artists, gallerists, museum curators, art historians, powerful and rich people, etc., ever has been able to view prior to the mass use of PCs and cell phones.

Everyone who has a memory of the Mona Lisa has invested space and energy in their brains’ visual cortexes to the image. The memory may be purposefully kept because it’s a famous painting that educated people recognize, so not remembering it could influence others to think one an ignoramus, otherwise to impress others or fit in, or because the painting was personally inspiring. One of the hallmarks of fine art is that people want to remember it. They have memory of it that they want to keep.

We can choose to invest in seeing fine art, even some of the world’s greatest fine art using our devices via the Internet. In recent years many internationally recognized museums have uploaded their collections. This is a good way to invest in fine art – not financially, of course – and it expands your memories and visual understandings.

The person who owns a framed magazine image of the Mona Lisa has also invested some space to the Mona Lisa. This might be wall space or space in a scrapbook or file. Want to invest your time in seeing much more of the Mona Lisa in a new way? Check out the Louvre’s online Mona Lisa app:  https://www.louvre.fr/en/what-s-on/life-at-the-museum/the-mona-lisa-in-virtual-reality-in-your-own-home

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Why is Fine Art Considered Valuable?

Fine art is valuable because the memory of it gives us a new way of seeing the world. It literally expands our vision.

How? Scientists and doctors who focus on vision tell us that 90% of vision does not happen through the eyes but via the brain as it compares memories of visual impressions of light to the impressions of light the eyes are currently sending. We see through our memories.

Great artists give us new ways to see by creating new visual communications – that may at first be slightly difficult, or at least novel to see. We may not actually like or “get” the work of a renowned artist when we are first introduced to their art. This new-to-us art does not exactly fit previous visual memories. Art works may be too sumptuous to fit our day-to-day memories, for instance the paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, John Paul Rubens, or Rembrandt; or the sculptures of Michelangelo, Bernini, or Rodin. Other works may be difficult to see at first because they are too brutish or abstracted, such as paintings by Goya, Mondigliani, or Rothko; or the sculptures of Brâncu?i, Giacometti, or Henry Moore.

Even in our time, it is not necessarily easy to visually grasp the Mona Lisa in person, no less from a photograph. This is especially true for the viewer who is used to seeing the work of other famous painters in museums.

Among his many other achievements, Leonardo da Vinci was a pioneering fine art painter who invented new ways of painting and using different types of paint. Da Vinci studied optics, how we see. His understandings led him to create and perfect a technique known as sfumato. This technique broke dramatically with the painting tradition of outlining figures. The Mona Lisa herself, and the background that surrounds her kind of vanishes at the edges due to the artistic blending of shadows and colors. Mona Lisa’s gaze seems to follow the viewer as the viewer moves from one side of the painting to the other. Even more startling, when the viewer stands directly in front of the Mona Lisa she seems to lose her famous smile! Da Vinci understood modern findings that our eyes are less suited to process and pick up shadows directly. However, our peripheral vision can see shadows well. Thus, moving slightly to either side revels the Mona Lisa’s smile from the carefully blended (sfumato) shadows at the sides of the portrait’s eyes and lips.

Seeing the Mona Lisa painting inspires our vision to see our world in a new way, including seeing art itself in a new way. When a work of art inspires many people it is recognized as fine art, and it becomes inordinately valuable. If it continues to inspire generation to come it grows in prestige and value. The Mona Lisa is the most financially valuable painting in the world based as valued by its insurance.

What About Fine Art as a Financial Investment?

It’s conventional, trite but true to advise that all financial investments should be well considered as they always involve risk. If there is a sure thing, from betting on a horse, to buying investment products (like stocks or EFTs), or collecting fine art, probably something illegal taking place in the background.

In Contemporary art there is no such thing as a guarantee that collecting the work of any artist will reap financial rewards. What is popular with current collectors may not inspire future generations.

In the history of Western Art, since the Renaissance, there have been artists who were popular, even renowned who have since faded into the background. Patrons would commission a portrait for posterity, but their second and third plus generations of heirs later regretted that great great granddad had not selected an artist who was scorned at the previous time for the commission.

An easy example of this were the artists who were popular and given commissions by wealthy patrons at the annual Salon of the Royal Academy of Art in the 1860s in Paris, France. At that time being accepted to show in the Salon meant gaining commissions and a secure livelihood for any artist. With the exceptions of Manet and Morisot (and only once a small Monet landscape small basically hidden in the display), the Salon refused to show the works of the artists who became known as Impressionists.

In 1863, in response to the complaints about the number of rejections from the Salon, French Emperor Napoleon III created the first exhibition of the Salon des Refusès, to include works by those refused by the Salon jury. Yet it lacked the significant commissions of the Salon. Many of the works by those to be associated with the Impressionist movement were exhibited there.

In 1874, 30 artists banded together to show their work without the sanction of the government and without a jury. They named themselves the Sociètè Anonyme des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs, etc., and staged their exhibition in the former studio of the photographer Nadar (Gaspard Mix Tournachon) in Paris. The group included Paul Cèzanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. It was about this time that the name “Impressionist” was coined by an art critic responding to one of Monet’s landscape paintings, Impression, Sunrise. The name was originally meant as a derogatory term, but it was soon adopted by the painters, and by 1877 they were using it as an identifier of their style and their exhibitions.

Generally, based on similar conditions of size, materials and condition of the artwork, the works of the artists who were selected to show in the then prestigious Salon pales in today’s financial value n comparison with paintings made by the Impressionists at that same time. If great great granddad had commissioned or bought a painting from Renoir, Monet, or Pissarro, and it was held by your family until today, then you would be quite wealthy. If not, there would only be an amusing family story about how great great grandad blew an amazing financial opportunity.

Of course, while financially investing in Contemporary artists is a safer bet than going to Las Vegas and playing craps, the best art investment is in the art that is proven over centuries to inspire people. Those works, like the ones of the artists named in this article are beyond the financial reach anyone but the very wealthy, blue-chip corporations and museums.

Contemporary Fine Art Investing Advice

First find a contemporary artist, not an artwork, and invest in that artist’s work(s).

From the artists you decide to invest in, only collect original works, or signed and numbered limited edition works that you acquire directly from the artist or a reputable dealer.

Gallerists, and some collectors advise based upon the current art market’s preferences. The “best” contemporary galleries generally represent the artists whose works currently sell for the highest prices. That means that buying works of those artists may be the safest or least safe and dreadful investment. Prices for art that are skyrocketing up, can also tumble down as tastes change with new generations.

Most every gallerist or art advisor will tell you to buy what you like – what you want to see daily on your walls. Well, probably waking up to see art like one of Goya’s monsters on your walls will not be pleasant, but only buying what you like gives you dull art that is only coddling. Art that evokes a happy memory at the seashore may or may not be great art. Does the artist give you new visual understandings, or inspire you like a Monet, or Dufy did in their day? Find such an artist if you want the best possible investment. Only then select the artwork(s) for your walls.

Look for these criteria before investing in fine art for financial gain:

  1. Does the artist have something strikingly brand new to visually communicate to you, and possibly to others in our time? Does the work communicate something new and meaningful to you? Do you feel connected to the artist somehow (assuming you have not met)? Do you feel closer to truth? To the Divine? To somehow better understanding of who you are? Of some kind of truth about life?
  2. Do not buy immediately, upon first seeing any contemporary artwork! Even my artworks! Go home from the brick-and-mortar gallery or internet gallery. Live a few days of your life – or even weeks. Do you find yourself thinking about the artwork itself? Remembering it. Are you in a good way being moved by it (and not moved only by the possible deal or money you could make)? Are you moved in some way by other works by this artist? [Note: If you saw only one artwork by the artist make sure you investigate and see other works by the artist, online or in person.]
  3. Would you recommend seeing that artwork, or artist’s works to a friend the way you would recommend a good book, show, song, or other type of creative expression that moved you?
  4. Does the art seem important enough to you that you want to support the artist, by giving that artist money, as this is basically what you are doing when collecting contemporary art.
  5. Would you happily purchase an expensive ($50.00+) full color coffee table sized art book of the artist’s work because you know you would enjoy just looking at the excellent photos of the work in private moments?
  6. Given a choice, do you want that piece of art to live in your brain or would you feel diminished if you forgot it?

My favorite artist has been Vincent van Gogh since the time I was a tot being pushed along in a stroller at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It was the first time I stood up in my stroller to better see the painting before me. I fussed when my Dad tried to move along to see other works. Although van Gogh was greatly renowned, his art was a discovery for me. This was the moment I learned to love what art was and could do for my life. Van Gogh’s work continues to strongly communicate to me, and apparently many other people to this day. As a tot, my parents couldn’t give a painting by van Gogh, so as soon as I discovered there were art books with good images of his works, that became my ongoing gift request. I introduced my younger cousins, my son, and my granddaughter to van Gogh. So, my answers to the above questions in relation to Vincent van Gogh is a resounding: Yes!

In his lifetime Vincent van Gogh sold only one painting. The critics were unkind or ignored him. If you ancestor had gone to the gallerists or shows of the day no art advisor or fellow patron would have advised collecting van Gogh, except for van Gogh’s brother Theo, who failed to sell his works, but did sell the works of other artists who were considered less strange. Strange can be revolutionary, which means new – or just simply strange because it’s dreadful. Van Gogh’s art was waiting to be discovered by collectors who began to collect the prior and previously revolutionary and strange works of the Impressionists. Van Gogh is considered a Post-Impressionist.

My answers are the same for other artists, including da Vinci. I have personally stood in front of the Mona Lisa and remain inspired by that memory. Yes, I also have art books about Leonardo da Vinci. I would hate to lose my memories of his works.

Review the above list considering your answers to the questions in relation to one of your favorites all time artists. Your emotional responses to the questions regarding your favorite artist(s) can help lead you to discover potential contemporary artists that may be worth your investment.

Again, investing in anything financially or with your time and attention, including art, always involves commitment and risk. What you look at becomes memory and we see through our memories.

Psalm 113 Vincent van Gogh portrait
Psalm 113 Vincent van Gogh’s Essence Portrait by Judy Rey Wasserman

See more about the Vincent van Gogh Psalm 113 portrait above at (Click –>): https://ungravenimage.com/blog/?s=Vincent+van+Gogh

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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. See more or yourself. Discover Judy Rey Wasserman’s UnGraven Image Art.

Change the way you see the world through art mage of the Word. 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. https://artofseeingthedivine.com.

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