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Monday, 24 September 2018


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Timely article about collecting art, in light of your post:


Herbert and Dorthy Vogel

These folks were Art Collectors. Not rich. Not even "well to do". They learned about art and collected works by newer artists. Over decades the built an art collection worth many millions.
Learn about art, visit artists and collect what you like as a steady, ongoing project. One piece at a time a collection is built. High value or not you will have work you enjoy viewing and owning.

There are exceptions to every rule and when it comes to collecting art, that means Herb and Dorothy Vogel.

Although my photography collection is quite modest -- I have not paid more than $25 for any one print and most were obtained via trading loose prints with other photographers -- I like every one I have and enjoy viewing them on a regular basis.

I think you missed stating that your advice is for those view their collection as an investment tool. For the rest of us, the best advice is to collect that which pleases you, whether you collect photographs or Santa salt shakers. It looks like that is what Roger is doing, and his collection may gain in value over time, but it will (hopefully) always give him pleasure.

Oops! I have to correct my previous statement, as I remember now that I purchased one of Carl Weese's Pt/Pd prints (for which I paid more than $25) during a T.O.P. print sale back in 2010.

"A methodical and organized nature." Well, that lets me out. :>)

With best regards.


There's a reason for collecting "classic" photos -- they're usually pretty good art. And there's another way of doing it: collect signed "printed later" photos. I have two of Andre Kertesz' classic shots, and I don't think I paid more than $2,000 each for them back in the 90s. O. Winston Link's steam railroad photos were printed by the dozens, but well-printed, and are quite affordable. Paul Caponigro, celebrated for his printing technique, made quite a few copies of "Running White Deer," perhaps my favorite photo, and I bought a signed copy directly for $6,000. I don't know if Lange printed later any "White Angel Bread Line" images, but if she did, they may also be affordable.

Some collectors refuse to buy "printed later" photos because they claim that they do not represent the artist's initial and most valid impulse. I reject that idea -- I think the longer an artist looked at an image, the more mature his reaction might be. Ansel Adams' "Moonrise" -- and he may have printed a thousand of them -- are much more interesting in the dark, more dramatic later versions, IMHO. (I personally would not buy "estate printed" photos because the artist's own hand is not involved.)

So, if you like classic photos for the images, rather than for the potential market increase, check for "printed later" photos.

Here’s another somewhat ghoulish approach. Buy the works of well established, elderly artists. I didn’t do this intentionally , but, I bought an HCB signed print of a lesser known photograph of his because I love the image and the content has meaning for me. He died the next year and the value of the photograph immediately nearly doubled. Seems to be a predictable pattern, the same thing happened with a Motherwell lithograph that I bought. Again, I didn’t plan this as some kind of strategy, but I think a market pattern was revealed. =)

IMHO, support young artists whose work you like and kill two birds, etc.

You could do a lot worse than collecting one or two photographic prints each of a different technical form, with subject matter that dovetails with your æsthetic taste.

To be less obscure, T.O.P.'s print sales have so far permitted me to acquire beautiful photographs that include traditional gelatin silver prints, platinum/palladium, high-end pigment inkjet prints, and dye transfer prints. All are gorgeous images that tickle my fancy, and have provided me a kind of mini-gallery of the best current printing methods.

Beware survivorship bias. Just because the successful collections did this and that does not mean that doing the same kinds of things will lead to success.

Indeed, consciously trying to "succeed" as a collector in any way other than to delight oneself is likely to become an exercise in frustration. Fred Herzog's pictures are very nice, but there are thousands, maybe 10s of thousands, of unknowns who also made very nice pictures in just the same vein.

The necessary ingredient in "success" beyond your personal delight is that someone important also collected the same things. Fred Herzog's success is due to his perfectly excellent work being discovered by someone with the power to canonize it. Wasn't there a recent discussion here about a photo that was accidentally canonized by, um, her name eludes me? Sorry.

Good art is common as grass.Maybe not that common, but there's a great deal of it. Someone has to canonize this bit and that bit in order to create the art market, and at the end of the day there is a strong element of "well, I own a bunch of it" and "the artist was very polite to me that day" and "oh hell, let's just flip a coin" involved.

Collect for your own delight, and let the rest fall where it may.

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