Artbook / D.A.P. Selects Eight Must-Read Books For a New Collector

Artsy Collecting
Jul 23, 2013 2:42PM

The fastest route from novice to expert is often found on the pages of books. New to collecting? Follow Artbook / D.A.P.’s art world field guide and bookmark titles that answer everything you always wanted to know about collecting but were afraid to ask.

1. Collecting Contemporary Art

For the collector of contemporary art, the acquisition of new work is an aesthetic and intellectual adventure that records a personal journey and cuts a unique cross-section through the culture. This volume gathers interviews with 40 collectors from Europe, the Americas and Asia, among them Renato Alpegiani, Blake Byrne, Teresa Sapey, Tian Jun, Uli Sigg, David Roberts, and Ivo Wessel.

2. Owning Art: The Contemporary Art Collector’s Handbook

This sharp, practical look at the contemporary art market declares its irreverence early with a full-page, large print citation of Jenny Holzer’s truism, “Money creates taste.” Louisa Buck and Judith Greer’s analyses of buyers’ interests and responsibilities (including a section on how artists see the market and how collectors should treat them) make Owning Art a guidebook of interest to armchair travelers as well as its ostensible target market—it’s not just collectors who seek to understand more about dealers, auction houses, art fairs, selection, pricing, and conservation.

3. The Art Fair Age

We have officially entered the Age of the Art Fair. In this illustrated reader, the Madrid-based independent curator Paco Barragán analyzes the phenomenon in chapters like “The Art Fair as Urban Entertainment Center,” “The Curated Art Fair and the Art Fair Curator,” “The Advent of Expanded Painting”, and “Art as Investment.”

4. The Biennial Reader

Tracing the genealogy of the standard exhibition format—including biennials but also other recurrent exhibitions such as triennials and quadrennials—and examining some of the most famous examples from the 20th and 21st centuries, from the Venice Biennale to the Johannesburg Biennial, the Havana Bienal to Documenta, this reader explores the artistic, theoretical, political, and other ambitions of such large-scale exhibition projects.

5. Collection Diary

For one year, respected critic and curator Bob Nickas put his money where his eyes are: he decided to become a collector, someone who takes art off gallery walls instead of hanging it there. His ground rules dictated that he would buy one work per month from an artist he had never written about or exhibited before. In this fascinating diary of his year on the market, he tracks the changes in his relation to art, when the commitment becomes one of the wallet and not just the mind and words.

6. Commissioning Contemporary Art: A Handbook for Curators, Collectors and Artists

In an age of blockbuster exhibitions and public art projects, the most exciting artworks are often those that have been specially commissioned for a specific site or event. This invaluable guide reveals and demystifies every stage of the commissioning process—from the initial invitation to an artist and the financing of a project to the final installation of works.

7. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Gallerists But Were Afraid to Ask

The massive expansion of the art market in recent decades has aroused much intrigue about how galleries operate, particularly as critics, artists, and independent curators take the lead in opening their own spaces, enhancing the appeal of the gallerist’s role. Here, Andrea Bellini interviews figures from 51 galleries, including Gavin Brown's Enterprise (New York), Massimo De Carlo (Milan), Greene Naftali (New York), Hotel (London), Kurimanzutto (Mexico), Franco Noero (Turin), Eva Presenhuber (Zurich), Johann König (Berlin), and Vitamin (Beijing), eliciting their views on the complexities of art culture worldwide.

8. High Price: Art Between the Market and Celebrity Culture

During almost any conversation about art, the elephant in the room—whether it’s mentioned or not—is money. Paradoxically, in a world in which the global art market often plays the role of final arbiter on artistic matters, art history is still required as an insurance policy. For just as market success is now able to generate cultural relevance in the long term, it also depends on the kind of symbolic meaning for which art history and criticism are still decisively responsible.

For more titles, explore the The Essential Reading List for New Collectors, à la Artsy Staff.

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019