Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | September 1, 2010

Why Did You Buy That Piece of Art?

If you have ever bought an artwork, please answer this question. What took you from loving it to buying it?  When are you content to just tell the artist, “I love that painting!” and what makes you want to own it?

For me, I see many works I really like but I buy few. My art collection is very eclectic containing both bought work and work for which I traded a painting. I know I have a maximum price with which I am comfortable, but occasionally, I will go over it

I am researching this question for an article I am cosidering and would really appreciate feedback. Look on your walls at your artwork and try to remember the exact feeling you had that made you “decide” to buy each piece.


  1. Dear Silver,

    As I have blogged many times, a true appreciation of a work of art is when an unrelated and independent collector is pleased to pay a fair market price for it. It would appear, however, that the art world is filled with those who would spoil it for us, by demanding no more than gushing praise, a timid nod of thanks, or simply a website hit. Apparently the mere mention of money is grubby.

    Yes, my wife and I bought a large painting from a well-known artist in 1977 for $3,200. We still have it. One of four depicting the seasons, ours shows Spring in the Australian Bush. I am sure that it is worth a lot of money now, particularly since the artist has long since gone to the big studio in the sky.

    Why did we buy it? I hesitate to say this, but we were young and enthusiastic and financially unencumbered. The artist was/is famous and we were furnishing our apartment. I’m sure that we expected the work to appreciate.

    Did I love the work? Sort of. I’ve seen art works that have blown me away since then, but this one is nice and well executed. I suspect that the purchase was a bit of an ego trip for both of us. We had lived and worked in Paris, France, drove nice cars, listened to records on our new B&O stereo, and were about to buy a house in the third most expensive suburb of Melbourne.

    We also bought a pair of drawings depicting Mont Saint Michel and the River Eure in Orleans, France. They are still hanging in our bedroom opposite an Aubrey Beardsley print. Again, competent artworks reminding us of great times in our youth.

    The burning question in my mind is how to generate that cachet which helps collectors, faced with a bewildering array of artworks, buy mine.


    • Dai, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thorough response to my question. Lately, I find myself obsessed with “why” people decide to buy. I think most people look at art online to compare it to their own work and browse art in galleries with the same mind-set as they do a museum. They are just enjoying art. I learned early in my 30s after buying a couple of things for investment purposes (stored away) that I wanted only art that I would love looking at on a daily basis. The thing that usually decides me is I fall in love with a particular artist’s style or subject. After that, I try to find one of their pieces that fits my budget. That sometimes takes awhile. When I cannot afford an artist, I wind up collecting postcards of their work. I hope to hear from lots of people.

  2. Since you know me well, Silver, you already know that I don’t spend a lot of money on “real” art. As I grew up poor and still don’t consider myself as one with money of my own, I still can’t bring myself to purchase expensive pieces even though I’ve seen many, many over the years that I love…usually pieces either “speak” to me emotionally or otherwise appeal to me with design or color–oh this is so hard to explain! Let me just tell you that I think of myself as creative and the art I have in my home comes from that. An especially artistic Indian calendar of reproductions of miniature Persian or Indian paintings, for instance, became self-matted and framed pieces that adorn our guest bedroom. The most I ever paid for a painting is around $40 for a piece of old-barn siding painted minimally at the bottom to look as if the barn door is partially open and there’s a row of piglets squeezing their heads as if they’d escape if they had just one more inch! I had a pet pig and this one speaks to a place in my heart. Other than that and my own amateur attempts with oil and acryllic as well as Miss Emma, one of your early collages you gave me a long time ago, and is now a cherished gift, I have no art as such. If I were rich and grew up feeling able to purchase such, I would only buy the art I loved and wanted to see around me. Investing in art for money seems cold to me. This is a thought provoking question you’ve asked though, and one I would like to consider in Wintersong. I think it would be great to see what other readers have to say.

  3. Silver, I’ve had a chance to think on this since I am considering buying a piece of art.

    First of all I will notice a “body” of work that I admire. I think many people like to “pick out” one of several.

    Second I like to know that the work comes from the heart and is well executed.

    Also important to me is the craftsmanship in the skill of the medium used and well as the framing (if it is 2-D). It is the whole package.

    Lastly I have to be able to afford it because I am after all, a starving artist.

    • Thanks to Alice and Marie for thier input. I appreciate your taking the time.

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