Nothing is Guaranteed but Markets Suggest
When ones deals in art for a lifetime, there are many experiences and circumstances that one faces and has to solve on way or another. In the last thirty- two years I went through broke and penniless, recessions, financial upheavals, stock exchange crashes and near catastrophes. Yet, here I am, we all are talking about the best invesaments possible, the best bargains arund the globe. We never consider the near impossibles of WARS, financial crashes and so on.
An investment in contemporary art that made great sense
May 1990, London – July 1990, Paris
“It is time to look into your inner darkness to find a new and profound reason of being.” Juan Miro
If caution is to be advised about investing in art it should be in relation to investing in contemporary art and it should be made here and now. This is the section of the art market where things can turn out incredibly well or go horribly wrong. My advice therefore is consistent and unchanged.
Invest in what you like and you can afford, old or contemporary! Buy value for money! Buy content and certainly not just names that might appear today and disappear tomorrow.
Contemporary art of the highly priced artists of today is all about connections, financial links and the use and abuse of both. It is the darling of the new millionaires and billionaires. I cannot endorse the art of anybody whose sole aim is to shock the public by assembling heaps of junk or excrement, rubbish or underwear, heads or tails and then justify those abominations with a piece of philosophical plagiarism. Such art is only for the fools with the money who throw millions away simply in order to jump on the bandwagon and blindly follow the sirens of today, as they know nothing better.
Important Contemporary art of 1945-1960s was mostly abstract. That was art that investors were pouring money into, art whose merits I could see and art that the auctions loved to sell. The statistics I kept and the sales recorded were more than enough to suggest that abstract art of that period was an area worth my interest and perhaps investment. The Hofmann I bought back in 1986 was a great abstract painting of the period and it rewarded me handsomely. Hofmann, although a contemporary artist, was a well-known, trusted artist with a good track record at auction, in galleries and literature. He was a famous, established artist, which makes him slightly different from what I refer to here as contemporary art and artists.
I hate anything else that is wildly contemporary, as I still consider myself a very conservative investor, a very narrow-minded collector. No ephemeral stuff for me, no art that might not last the test of time! No multiples of the popular names of today that might be condemned to oblivion within a few decades. No heaps of material, no air bubbles, no such outrageous concoctions in the name of ‘unusual’ and ‘different’ and ‘innovative’.
All sections of the art market, including contemporary art, were buoyant and bubbling. Prices were on the up and continued to be so in the first half of 1990. The euphoria of those years was contagious even when it was not justified. It was Reagan economics, the Thatcher era, the Russian liberation, the fall of Communism and freedom to Eastern Europe.
Nothing on the horizon suggested what was to happen next. Nothing and nobody forecast the events of the next twenty years or so – the beginning of a long period of uncertainty and financial hardship. Could I foresee major political and economic problems in the whole world? No, I was in the dark. Most of us were when the problems in the Gulf erupted following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The Gulf War began soon after in January 1991, then the wars against terrorism and the Afghan war. Added to this were the economic problems of Europe and the USA, the banking crisis and euro crisis that caught all of us on the hop. How could I foresee the Greek tragedy and calamitous events of the 2010s back in 1990? I am no prophet and no economist.
Paul Kallos, Iconic Abstract painting of 1962 in great big dimensions