How to Buy Art for Your Home
Whatever your budget, make sure you take note of these top tips and expert recommendations before you invest in a piece of art for your home.
'Art in your home can complement the architecture, add design elements to your space or create a punctuation point,' says Alexander Richards, associate director at Stevenson Gallery. 'And how exciting,' he adds, 'if this "window" transports you into another world of ideas, space or time.'
He adds, 'Art can also act as a talking point for people entering your home; the opportunity to discuss what a work makes one feel or think is a chance to connect.'
But whatever your reasons for choosing art for your home – and there are many! – make sure you begin with this guide from the experts.
7 tips on buying art for your home – and displaying it, too
1. Start with your heart
'Buy only work that you really enjoy or love,' advises Richards. 'Ask yourself: does it truly "speak" to me – or am I buying the work because someone told me to?'
2. Be practical too
'Do also consider the practicalities: make sure that there’s enough space for the work in your home. It would do a disservice to the work if it was squashed behind a couch or obscured by a light. Lighting is important – it is an opportunity to really draw attention to a work, to highlight or spotlight it if you will,' Richards continues.
3. Don’t leave framing as an afterthought
'It was Vincent van Gogh who said: "An artwork without a frame is like a soul without a body",' says Wessel Snyman, founder of Wessel Snyman Creative, which has offered framing services in Joburg and Cape Town for over a decade.
'The purpose of a picture frame is not just to protect, but also to enhance. The creative decisions taken during framing can highlight or strengthen aspects of the work, and should coordinate with both the artwork and your interior design.'
4. Never skimp on a frame
'Low-quality materials can destroy your artwork over time,' says Snyman. 'Insist on acid-free boards and adhesives, and reversible techniques to be used on your artwork. In the long run, you won’t regret the extra cost – especially if you consider your artwork's investment.'
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5. Know your walls
'Often, a well-chosen colour for the wall behind an artwork can act as a means of unification,' says Richards. 'Wall colours are often underutilised – one accent wall, painted a colour that complements the hanging artwork, can be very effective.'
Awareness of your walls and the environment of your home are also important for the framing process. 'Are there materials or colours existent in your home that you can use as a departure point for the frame concept?' asks Snyman. 'In which room, on which wall, against which colour or wallpaper are the frame and artwork going to hang? It will help to show your framer photographs of your space and allow them to guide you to the best possible fit for your artwork and home.'
6. Be careful with colour
'White frames tend to age badly, so use with caution,' says Snyman. 'But do be careful that your framing colour choice doesn’t detract the eye too much. The frame should support the artwork, not overshadow it.'
7. Protect your investment
'Glass, Perspex, plexiglass and engineered museum glass are collectively referred to as glazing, and should be a big consideration when framing your artwork,' says Snyman. 'Artworks on paper are in crucial need of protection, and should definitely be framed with glass,' he adds.
'If your frame hangs in a bright room or in direct sunlight, consider using museum glass that offers UV-blocking to prevent discolouration of the artwork over time.
'Artworks on cloth or canvas are generally more durable and, in most instances, do not require glass.'
Protection also extends to insurance, especially if your artwork holds substantial financial value – or you expect it to in the future.
'Insuring a work and constantly updating its value is advisable,' agrees Richards. 'Fire is a huge risk for anyone’s personal belongings – artwork is no different. Like fire, water can also cause serious problems. Avoid keeping artworks on the floor or in a space that could become flooded.'
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3 Local Artists to Inspire the Collector in You
Richards shares some of his affordable favourites from our shores.
1. Zanele Muholi
'Arguably one of Africa’s or even the world’s most important contemporary artists. There are many works from Muholi’s various series that are affordable. Also, when purchasing a Muholi, who is first and foremost a visual activist, you are supporting a community of people with whom the artist collaborates.'
2. Dada Khanyisa
'A young artist whose work mirrors and comments on contemporary youth culture across South Africa through combining sculpture, painting and installation. Fun and lively, with a keen eye for detail and clever use of colour, Khanyisa’s works can be the perfect punctuation point for any space in one’s home.'
3. Zander Blom
'Blom’s early work combined abstract painting and photography in compositions that reference Modernism. Later, his use of impasto, gestural marks and pictorial structure – along with his use of the oil paint's stain on un-primed Belgian linen – presented a distinctive painting style in South Africa. Blom’s eye for design and composition have made his early and more recent work a favourite for interior decorators and curators alike.'
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