The Art of Collecting
Collector and art advisor Emily Greenspan shares advice on beginning and shaping your own art collections
Interior design by Richard Mishaan
You might say that Emily Greenspan has fine art in her blood. She grew up around—and later worked for—her family’s New York City art and antiques gallery, NEWEL ART GALLERIES, and discovered her own path in the business as a young, newly married adult. “Art really grew into a passion for me when my husband and I started looking at and collecting contemporary art as a couple,” she says.
What began as a hobby has grown into a business. In 2007, Greenspan founded TAG ARTS ART ADVISORY SERVICES, a consulting firm that provides its clients with comprehensive advice on the acquisition of contemporary artwork and the development of collections. And although the contemporary art market Greenspan specializes in often realizes prices well into the stratosphere, her advice for new and developing collectors is practical and applicable at any level.
Ask the Experts
When starting out as collectors in the 1990s, the Greenspans learned from the pros: the artists themselves and the gallerists who exhibited the artists’ work. The contemporary art market is far more competitive today, but even as experienced art-world insiders, the Greenspans still take advice from the experts. “As our taste and collection has matured, we’ve gotten involved with museums and befriended curators. Now those relationships influence our direction as collectors because they have a great insight into which artists are important, and what will have staying power,” says Greenspan.
Those sources of expertise—artists, gallerists, auction-house specialists, curators—are still your best bets for educating yourself about whatever type of art you find yourself drawn to. Expand your knowledge by spending time visiting galleries, museums, and auction previews (or looking at images online), asking questions, talking to the artists themselves whenever possible, and reading experts’ descriptions and essays to learn as much as you can.
Interior design by Leyden Lewis
Find Your Fit at Fairs
If you’re not sure what you’d like to collect, a great way to begin is by visiting large art fairs, says Greenspan, such as ART BASEL MIAMI, held in Miami every year, and the smaller satellite fairs that happen at the same time: NADA Miami, UNTITLED MIAMI, and CONTEXT ART MIAMI.
The volume of art displayed at fairs can be overwhelming, but spending some time wandering through the exhibits can give you a sense of the kinds of things you gravitate toward: genres (painting? photography? mixed-media?), color, theme, time period, and more. Once you have a better understanding of what you want to collect, you can look for galleries that specialize in that type of art and artist.
If you hope to discover up-and-coming artists, or want to start collecting without making huge investments, look for notices of MFA studio tours at top art schools around the country, or for galleries that specialize in emerging artists.
Interior design by Katie Leede