The Art Collector’s Guide to New York City

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just breezing in for the season, New York City offers an incredible landscape of art and access where novices and masters alike will find something to complement their tastes. Home to an array of burgeoning and established artists, the rich setting of Manhattan and the Five Boroughs teems with cultural and creative expression; there are few places in existence that have their finger on the pulse of world as New York City does, and nowhere is this more apparent than in its art. Looking to take home a slice of The Big Apple? Follow the steps and suggestions below, and you too will find art collecting in the city as easy as pie.

Preparation & Research

Left: “Chagall Lithographe II (1957-1962)” by Marc Chagall, 1963, unsigned book.
Right: “Les Affiches de Picasso” by Pablo Picasso, 1970, unsigned book, DUMBO Auctions

In a place where time is money, online research will help you to refine your field of interest to ensure every day in the city is well spent, especially if you’re looking for a very specific style or genre. A great place to start is ArtSlant (New York) and Time Out – New York edition. Boasting comprehensive “calendars for openings, exhibits and events,” this online community will whet your appetite and narrow how much pavement of New York City’s 305 square miles you’ll have to pound to find your newest object d’art. With convenient and straightforward drop-down menus that include searchable directories, it takes mere seconds to zero-in on “Established & Blue Chip,” “Emerging” and “Up-And-Coming” artists and art, their respective websites and gallery appearances.

Additionally, studying an artist’s career and productivity, and researching literature covering specific genres are essential. New York City is rife with incredible book stores that run the gamut when it comes to art literature, criticism, history and guides that will offer any collector get an edge. Local favorites include Spoonbill & Sugartown Books, which boasts a collection of both peculiar and pleasing art books, encapsulating both established and emerging artists alike. For a true New York City experience, stop by the beloved Strand, where “18 miles of books” offer both the nouveau and nuanced collector endless opportunities to study the artist or genre of their choosing.

Museums, Fairs & Galleries

Queluz Palace” by Massimo Listri, ed. of 5, Hamburg Kennedy Photographs

With over 600 art galleries and some of the world’s most celebrated museums, choosing your stops and searches wisely is the name of the game. Whether your motivations are inspirational, professional or financial, exposure to the art of New York City will best prepare you for enhancing your own burgeoning or established collection. The Met offers the best bet for those looking for a sweeping display of antique and historical art, whereas annual and satellite art fairs like The Armory Show/Volta NY and Independent New York provide opportunities to experience contemporary art in a global showcase.

Though Chelsea has reigned supreme as the art gallery epicenter of New York City, it now must share its crown with the Lower East Side, boasting 224 galleries as of September 2015. James Fuentes, 11R (Eleven Rivington), and Rachel Uffner showcase embryonic and established artists in immaculate spaces as LES highlights. For those collectors who want to trek off the beaten path, the Soloway (Williamsburg), Algus Greenspon (West Village), and SculptureCenter (Long Island City) provide access to creative outliers, and artists nascent and experimental, respectively.

Key Galleries: Moderne Gallery, Dual Modern, Hamburg Kennedy Photographs, Puccio Fine Art, Muriel Guepin Gallery

Pricing & Purchasing

Since the art business is unregulated, anyone call sell art (and price it accordingly). This can make the valuation and purchase of art tricky for even the most experienced of art collectors. Look to ask questions about the work you are interested in before you buy, and you do not have to accept the dealer’s price. Though not necessarily widely advertised, haggling is anticipated. Though discounts on price points vary widely, many gallery owners specifically are open to negotiation. Whenever possible, resource a well-respected database like the Blouin Art Sales Index or Invaluable’s Price Archive to see what comparative works of the same size and style have been sold for. That said, every piece of art and artist is unique and uniquely priced depending on venue, sale history and the artist’s position in the art world, along with other mitigating influences. Generally painting and sculpture are more expensive than prints or works on paper.

Framing & Displaying

Lot 67, “Woman with Parasol” by Louis Icart, oil on canvas,
Leland Little Auctions (June 17)

If you’ve purchased a piece of art like a painting, photo or print, whether to frame your piece is largely a matter of taste and the look you would like to achieve. On the one hand, an excellent frame may warrant considerable expense, but a low-quality or inappropriately styled frame will detract from the piece. Since works of art are generally safer off the floor, wiring your canvas for wall-hanging is a safe option while you consider your long-term framing options, assuming the stretcher is solid and reasonably sound. For sculpture or other works, balancing the protection of your piece and the aesthetic of its display are tantamount to preserving your collection.

Recommended NYC Framers: J. Pocker, City Frame, Make a Frame Brooklyn, Gerlach, Brentano’s

Hiring an Expert

In the fast-paced and intense world of New York City, collectors may find navigating the nuances of the art world metropolis alone a daunting prospect. Thankfully there are whole teams of experts available to assist you if you need help fine art hunting in the Concrete Jungle. Once you have established your goals for the art you seek and your price point, browsing the Association of Professional Art Advisors and the Art Dealers Association of America will give you access to authentic referrals to fine art consultants. If appraising is what you need, New York Fine Art Appraisers offers help with everything from jewelry to musical instruments, along with conservation, tagging and loss prevention, and object and environmental condition assessments. Free appraisals are rarely free, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.

Appraising Houses in NYC: Sotheby’s, Swann Galleries, Doyle New York, Norton’s Art, Hutter Auction Galleries