Arts & Culture: You Have Found a Period/Style of Art You Like - Now What?
Now for the hard, but fun, part --- learning more about the specific period or style you have chosen. To begin with, you need to determine which artists worked during that period or painted in that style - and in certain instances this list can be extensive. In addition, it is important to learn who, among them, were the most influential; or,which artists have been classified as the 'first tier'. These first tier artists will usually, but not always, be the most expensive. You should study their works (either in person or through photographs) and try to determine what you like about them and what made them rise above the rest; in other words, why are these artists considered the best? Then you need to learn about the other artist from the period/style and start to understand where they, and their works, fall in relation to the first tier. Were they students? Were they relatives? Were they imitators? Did they work during the same time or at a later date? Are their pieces as desirable?
Once you have answered these questions you can begin to appreciate how price comes into play. Usually the leaders/innovators (first tier) of any movement will be the most expensive. They are followed in price by artists who are considered 'the second tier'. Price levels will continue to decrease as you move down the line, until you reach those artists who carried on painting the same subject or style many years/decades later, or were just copyists/imitators.
Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. Sometimes you will find that a second tier artist will sell for as much as a first tier artist. Remember that these tiers are usually delineated by when the artist painted (the years he worked). The closer to the original period in question, the more important the artist usually is. However, at times a second tier artist's choice of subject matter is a little more desirable. Maybe they were technically a better artist. Maybe it was their color palette. Whatever the reasons, there are times when the market will pay first tier prices for second tier artists.
If you do a little research and let your 'eyes' be your guide, you will begin to see the differences and start to understand why some artist's works are more sought after than others.
The art world can be a confusing and dangerous place to travel through. I always recommend that people find a good guide "an expert/guru," who will steer them clear of the pitfalls and help them build a wonderful collection that will appreciate in value while they appreciate it.
Howard L. Rehs
Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City
Read the whole series
Buying Art the Basics Part 1
Buying Art the Basics Part 2
Buying Art the Basics Part 4
Buying Art the Basics Part 5