Leonardo DiCaprio is doing it. Oprah is doing it. Madonna is doing it. Even Brad and Angelina do it. Art Collecting is without a doubt the latest way Hollywood’s A-listers and the world’s elite are spending their money.
While the art world is now more accessible than ever, that doesn’t make the task of choosing the right art much easier. If done right, choosing the right art for you can be a journey of self discovery, at times a game of strategy, and an art in itself. All it takes is participation, and a willingness to learn and take risks.
“Buying art has different motivations for different buyers. Some buy for investment, some buy for their collection and some buy purely for decoration,” says Founder and Chairman of Opera Gallery, Gilles Dyan. “I usually recommend first time collectors to identify their motive. Why are they interested in buying art? By answering this simple question they already define the type of advice they need to seek- for decoration buyers the size, subject and price will play a role; while for investment buyers, the artist’s track record and market performance will be important in their decision-making. It is a personal process.”
Opera Gallery represents and showcases artworks by a plethora of world-renowned artists including Ron English, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Lita Cabellut. Dyan opened the first Opera Gallery in Paris in 1994, and has since expanded his empire to 11 destinations including Singapore, New York, Monaco, Venice, Seoul, Dubai, Miami, London and in Hong Kong, where it was the first international gallery to open in the city. “It proved to be a great gamble,” says Dyan, “looking at Hong Kong’s position today as global player in the art world.”
Hong Kong has been a fascination market to watch. Straddled between East and West, in under a decade, the city has managed to become an international art hub with multiple annual art fairs, including Art Basel Hong Kong, and branches of some of the world’s most revered galleries like the aforementioned Opera Gallery, White Cube, Galerie Perrotin and Gagosian Gallery.
“I don’t think you can tell somebody how they should collect. It’s a question I get asked a lot, but I still haven’t come up with a good answer. I think its just about being turned on by art. At the end of the day, some people just kind of get it. They don’t all get it in the same way or get the same artists, but it’s a journey that excites them,” says Larry Gagosian, Owner and Director of Gagosian Gallery, told Interview Magazine. Gagosian has 14 galleries around the world and exhibits the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, Julian Schnabel, and Richard Wright to name a few.
“I’ve had people say to me, ‘Well, how do I start?’ Well, you start by buying. Buy what you like, buy what you can afford- and I’ not just saying that because I’m a dealer,” says Gagosian. “You can’t be so paralyzed to the point where you keep saying, ‘I’ve got to learn more.’ The best way to learn is to go home and actually put something on the wall. Then you’ve got an investment. Then you’re living with it. Then you’re in the game.”
For the novice, art fairs are a good place to begin narrowing down the wide world of art. With multiple international galleries under the same roof, you can start to get a feel of which galleries are out there and whose style, vibe or collection of artists speaks to you.
Some of the most popular international art fairs include Frieze London, Art Brussels, the Armory Show in New York, the India Art Fair, the Shanghai Art Fair, Art Stage Singapore, and of course the Art Basel fairs in Basel, Hong Kong, and Miami Beach.
“A lot of people go to Art Basel Miami Beach to party, but my advice is, don’t be too cool and skip the fair. Definitely visit the Rubenstein Gallery and the Gagosian pop-up. Sure, you’ll pick up something here and there- a few years back, I picked up a Murakami flower ball that had to be assembled in my house. But even if you don’t, it’s about being around all those great minds. For me, it’s a recharge,” says Pharrell Williams, whose famously colourful collection includes works by KAWS and Keith Haring.
Aside from the art itself, art fairs- and the countless events and parties coinciding with the fairs themselves- are ideal for meeting and mingling with gallerists and other collectors. While opinions on art collecting vary from one person to the next, they do share one common belief, and that is that these relationships are crucial for both collectors and gallerists alike.
“When we travel to art fairs, many people say to us, ‘I don’t know anything about art,’ but what I like to tell them is that art is not about knowing, it’s about feeling. It’s emotional; you feel it. It touches you,” says Guy Simard, who is one half of Galerie Simard Bilodeau that he runs in Laguna Beach with his wife Eve-Marie Bilodeau.
“I’m not an impulsive buyer, I like to take my time, but one time I was looking in the workshop of an artist and I saw this painting and I thought to myself, ‘wow’. There was no question in my mind- I needed this piece to bring me joy every day,” says Bilodeau. “That’s the reason why people should acquire artworks. Sure, it’s a good investment, but the most important thing is that you’re going to live with it on your walls.”
Gallery Simard Bilodeau has spent the last four years observing the art market in China, including exhibiting annually at the Shanghai Art Fair since 2012 and nothing that particularity in China, a lot of art is being bought rapidly and at record prices. This is all well and good, but as a result, the once separated worlds of art and business are slowly becoming one as collectors begin to see art, in Bilodeau’s words, as “stocks” rather than art itself.
The subject has been a source of tension and a tricky argument amongst those in the industry, but many say it’s not all bad, including Dyan.
“Of course money has played a pivotal role in the vast development of the market in the region an din China in particular. In that sense, collectors buying for investment were important because they exposed the world to Asian talents by making global headlines with auction records, which slowly incremented the artists’ public prices. Being able to see the rise in value and experiencing that through your investment is a great incentive for local players to hone in on art,” says Dyan. “That said, even collectors who began buying art purely for investment purposes eventually develop a taste for the art and addiction for the trade, which includes the act of experiencing the art, and continue to buy passionately for both personal and financial investment. I do believe it is crucial to combine the two for long-lasting results. I personally buy only what I love. I would never pick an artist or artwork I am not excited about or moved by. It makes the process of collecting more personal, enriching and long lasting. I have followed this rule since day one and now 30 plus years into collecting I stick with the same approach.”
Simard Bilodeau Contemporary is proud to share the above article featuring our sculptor Justin Shi. This article illustrates the origin of his passion for enamel and subsequent application of it into Fine Art.
Justin Shi was born in 1986 to a prominent Shanghainese family of copper and glass artisans. As a young boy, Shi often visited his father’s studio. The meticulously crafted copper pieces constituted his childhood playground. One day, he saw an enamel decoration on an ancient-style copper door his father created. Instantly entranced, Shi knew this would be a medium with a lifetime of importance.
Later, Shi obtained his Master’s Degree from Central Saint Martin’s University in London. At this point, he chose enamel as his professional direction. Shi revolutionizes the way enamel is created and combines it with furniture, outdoor decoration, etc. His goal is to expand its uses and carry it to the forefront of contemporary artistic materials.
In collaboration with acclaimed scholar Ma Weidu, Shi designed the famous cloisonné floor called “Reincarnation” in the Shanghai Center, for which he won a Guinness Prize for the largest cloisonné ground floor in the world. After creating the “Reincarnation” for the Shanghai Center, he gained an interest in presenting more profound themes through the medium of enamel which translate to works such as: “Reincarnation”, “The Eon of Time”, and “The Always Changing Yet Never Faltering Spirit of Humankind”. Serendipitously, he met Eve-Marie Bilodeau and Guy Simard during the opening of Mr. Ma’s museum at the Shanghai Center, thus opening the page for his enamel Fine Art sculpture collection. His first Fine Art sculpture series is based the ancient Chinese masterpiece “The Mountain and The Sea”. With this series he aims to express humanity’s deeply rooted appreciation of nature, which is imprinted in our DNA through evolution.
2014: This article by the Morning News: 新闻晨报 focuses on Master Sculptor, M.L. Snowden. It discusses the powerful presence of natural energy in her artwork, as well as her role as the protégé of the world renowned 19th Century French Sculptor, Auguste Rodin.
Galerie Simard Bildoeau’s booth picture from the 2014 Shanghai Art Fair is featured on the front page of the Wenhui Daily: 文汇报– a leading publication in Shanghai. This article introduces the grand opening of the 2014 Shanghai Art Fair, which is themed as “Collection as the New Fashion.” In total, 148 galleries from 12 countries and regions attended this year’s fair. The last paragraph states that U.S. gallery, Galerie Simard Bilodeau’s bronze sculpture by M.L. Snowden titled, Ion (see in photo), attracted a lot of attention.
interviews Eve-Marie Bilodeau- CEO and President of Galerie Simard Bilodeau
“The Art Lover’s Guide to Collecting Fine Art in California“