Our top 5 books for Art Collectors

Are you a bookworm? Or do you struggle to finish books, no matter how many times you pick one up? As with any other skill, reading takes practice! The trick is to find a book on a topic that truly captures your interest - and if there is one thing we know for sure about our Artscapers, it’s that they love art! So why not try getting your hands on some art collecting books and reading to expand your art horizons? If you need some tips on where to start, we’ve listed our top 5 books for art collectors. Whatever your motivation to read, remember: just like art, there’s something for everyone!

Our first pick is your ‘art collecting 101’: ‘Art Collecting Today’ by Doug Woodham- a great introductory read to how the Fine Art marketplace works today. Woodham, the author of this practical guide, is an art financial consultant and his focus, (as you may well be guessing), is on the investing aspect of art collecting. In this book, Woodham guides you through some tips & tricks on how to evaluate an artwork and also helps you to find your ‘whys’ to start art collecting (we might actually made a list of some possible ‘whys’ already here!). The author goes deeper than that though, as he also explains how to understand tax and cultural property laws which are extremely valuable for your long-term journey as an art collector. This is the right book for you if you’re starting your collecting journey,and especially if you identify yourself as a ‘Value-Hunter’ type collector...(not sure what type of art collector you are? Read our article on the different types here to find out!). An accessible yet insightful read, it is guaranteed to make you go from clueless to connoisseur after just 200 pages.

You can buy it here.

 


If your motivations for collecting go beyond just money, you will surely enjoy ‘The Value of Art’. Written by prominent art dealer Michael Findlay, this book explores how art acquires value - both commercial and social, but it also delivers the important message that art has an essential worth beyond both its market-assigned and socially-created value. Findlay believes that to buy art just for investment sake is quite selfish and damaging to the art market because we are giving a purpose to art for which it was never intended, and art should just be beautiful.

“As a general rule, when something becomes useful, it ceases to be beautiful.” 

― Michael Findlay in ‘The Value of Art

Full of insider anecdotes (one of the highlights of the book for most readers!) as well as providing great art business knowledge, this book is complemented by aesthetic illustrations that take the reading experience to the next level. If you enjoy buying art for its meaning and the emotions it evokes - this one's for you. 

You can buy it here.

 

Looking for that ‘inside scoop’ on the world of art collecting? If you want to hear a first-hand account of the experience of collecting directly from a collector, Tiqui Atencio has got you covered. As the result of interviews with over 80 collectors, this book explores the complex and diverse motivations behind collecting. But instead of making sweeping generalisations or coming up with cast-iron rules, it shows that there are actually as many individual collecting journeys as there are collectors. And that it’s never too late to start yours! Complete with illustrations by satirist Pablo Helguera, this is an entertaining and unconventional ode to the art of collecting.

You can buy it here

One of the first books ever written about art collecting,’Confessions of a Poor Collector’, is an easy and quick read (only 30 pages long) that is organised quite systematically by sections and bullet points, highlighting the basic (yet, insightful) art collecting learnings from the famous art collector, Eugene M. Schwartz.  

Schwartz was a successful copywriter in the late ‘60s and despite his renowned art collection, he had no formal art education, and so everything he learnt about collecting, he learnt with passion, time and dedication. And that’s why he wrote this book: he wanted to democratise the art collecting experience and inspire others to start too. Schwartz believed collecting was a lesson in open-mindedness and humility - what he valued was neither the social flare nor the million-dollar spending, but the sheer interaction with art and experiencing the truly unique world it opens our minds to. 

"The only important thing about this art, as any art, is the art itself"

– Eugene Schwartz in ‘Confessions of a Poor Collector’

Schwartz departs from a basic set of assumptions, which were the ground rules for his collecting journey, in order to deliver a lasting message. Despite being the oldest book on the list, the combination of its short length coupled with the straight-forward writing style makes it an inspiring and timeless read, perfect for beginners.

You can buy it here

 

Last but not least, a critical perspective we were missing in this list until now... that of the artist themselves! The author of this book is none other than one of the most well-known English contemporary artists of our time: it’s Grayson Perry! In his book, Grayson addresses complex questions - What is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ art? Is art still capable of shocking us? - and answers them all in a very clear,honest and non-patronising way. 

“Now we are in a time of post-historical art, anything can be art but not everything is art. In an age without boundaries I am more fascinated than ever by their possibilities.” 

- Grayson Perry in Playing to the Gallery

There is definitely a democratising undercurrent to his words, as he tactfully deconstructs and exposes the art market’s elitism. This is a book from someone who has been navigating the art world for long enough to have truly ‘seen it all’ - and who is strongly reminding us  that art should be fun, not intimidating!

You can buy it here
Have you read any of these books? Or, would you like to give any of them a go? We hope we inspired you to exercise that reading muscle of yours, and learn about new perspectives that we hope will certainly elevate your art collecting experience!


 #CollectingSeries #CollectorsBooks #ArtMarket #DougWoodham #MichaelFindlay #TiquiAtencio #EugeneSchwartz #GraysonPerry

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