Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Buying art at a gallery

Gallerists are passionate about the art they exhibit and spend much of their time discussing the significance and the context in which the artwork is situated. Getting to know a gallerist and supporting many artists from the same gallery over a long period of time can foster closer relationships and may result in gaining access to more desirable art.

Although galleries may be intimidating, if you are interested in a particular work, do not hesitate to speak to the sales associate and find out as much information as possible about the artist. There is usually a binder with the artist’s resume, press releases and articles at the reception area of the gallery.

If you do not see a price list, feel free to ask for one. Price lists contain information about price, name, media, size and date of artwork. A red dot next to the price indicates that the work has been sold. A half of red dot or green dot means that the work is on hold.

In a gallery, the price of an artwork is established based on the career level of the artist, production costs and the market demand for the work. Generally, work that is in greater demand commands a higher price. Due to the fast-paced nature of the art business, pricing and availability of artwork is subject to change at any time. Although there are no time restraints when buying at a gallery, confirm your interest as soon as you make a decision in case another client is interested.

After you decide to make a purchase, the gallery will issue you an invoice. A gallery invoice reflects the price of the work, shipping charges and any applicable sales tax. Sales tax varies based on location. Some galleries offer payment plans, and it is perfectly acceptable to ask about return and exchange policies. Never assume that a price is negotiable since some art dealers give discounts and others do not. For example, dealers rarely give discounts on work that is in high demand. For more available work, discounts of 10% are common, and sometimes a 15 – 20% discount is given to an existing client or a client who buys several works at one time.

If you are buying a work that is part of an exhibition, it is customary for the work to remain at the gallery until the exhibition closes. You may pick up artwork from the gallery or have it shipped, usually at your expense.