Two roads diverged in the woods, one was old art and the other new, which do you take? Both newbie and veteran collectors confront this quandary, assuming it best to stick to the path most travelled. While this route has rich value to offer, so does the path least taken. Whether your passion lies in the present, past or future of art, here is a map to the scenic views both old and new art have to offer.
Established art is usually both older in age and incontestably collectible; this is the road most travelled. Backed by a history of institutional and cultural reaffirmation, art made by icons like Brett Whiteley and Charles Blackman can be exchanged in the current marketplace with relative ease.
To be clear however, we don’t recommend buying merely to resell. Instead, to value the old is to value history, remembrance and renewal. Connecting time periods and cultures, old art can prove regenerative as it passes between collectors.
To buy new art, is to thrust yourself into the art of our times. It offers the opportunity to connect with a living artist, who may be available for commission or correspondence. Through investing in new art, you also become instrumental in creating value, just as patrons of the past have.
As human rights lawyer and exclusive collector of the new Julian Burnside puts it: buying new isn’t about being a patron, it’s about being a champion of the arts. It also means taking the path less travelled.
The Learned and the Learning
An experienced art advisor once described collectors as "the learned and the learning". The learned can be understood as custodians of historically significant art that ignites the mind. They are learned collectors.
Conversely, the leaning relish the now, discovering new art and the world it unfurls. You can of course, take a little of both and like Sam Leach, marry the future and history of art.
To find their feet, many collectors start by focusing on actively traded or established artists. Once they feel settled however, they may dive deeper into the old, embrace the new or do as David Walsh did, and fill a Museum of Old and New Art.
In the meantime, bear our advice in mind – lead with love, and be open to the different kinds of value offered by old and new art. That way, your collection will continue to burn steady and bright no matter what path you pursue. Just remember, it's the journey that counts.