Why Do People Buy Art?

By: Wendy Hermann


Buying art has always been popular and as far back as humanity has kept records, artists of all types have been celebrated. But why do people buy art? What does it do for us?

After all, unlike food, gas, clothes, and water - art is not something that we need. For most of us, art is something that we buy with our dwindling disposable income. But why? Well there are many reasons:

One of the most common reasons people buy art is to enhance their home decorating. A beautiful painting can make a world of difference to a stark, empty, white wall. A unique piece of sculpture can make a remarkable and transformative addition to a dull corner. The right art can beautify any environment.

Some people buy art as a sign of status. Imagine showing off to your friends a recently acquired Picasso original. Imagine the gossip and admiration that would surround you and how many of your peers will now see you as a person of stature, a person of class.

The purists among us will simply buy art for its beauty. These people when they look at a beautiful work of art are simply taken into another world. They can literally stare at the same art piece over a period of days and each time come away with new insight as to its meaning.

Museums buy art to attract visitors and tourists. Their concern is not with beauty so much. They want to make sure that any piece of art they buy will be a good return on investment. As long as people will pay to see it, they are satisfied.

Of course, one of the most popular reasons for purchasing art, especially paintings, is to cover up that blank space on the wall. In some neighborhoods I've lived in, it is the number one reason.

Many hobbyist art collectors will buy an artist's original pieces as a potential investment opportunity. In a sense this is a little like playing the lottery, especially when sourcing works from new and unknown artists. While enjoyable, as one learns more and more about art, this sort of collecting can be quite addictive. The good thing is that your investment potential improves as your knowledge improves with your extensive research.

Have you ever bought a piece of art simply because something in it uniquely captures your own personality. Somehow it's as if the artist, in that one art piece, is speaking to or for you. And it simply connects to you. Even if you've never been attracted to a piece of art in your life.

And lastly, there's the "I wish I had said that" form of art collecting. This is where the artist has expressed something in such a unique or outrageous manner that you really wish you had thought of it first. But owning it is the next best thing. I would suspect that a large percentage of those that are drawn to political works of art fall into this category.

As we've seen, people buy art for many and varied reasons. And that is why art and artists will be around as long as there are humans on this earth.

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Wendy Hermann is a writer and blogger for Canadien Inuit and Eskimo Art at NativeArtTraders.com, a site specializing in Inuit sculptures and paintings.

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