Investors have long sought antiques and fine objects to safeguard their earnings. The lingering global economic uncertainties means new markets are prime for new collectors and fresh cash. As the Asian market soars and contemporary artists become ever more collectible, Bonhams is developing these two key divisions to capitalize on the globalization of the antiques market.
Here, Andrew Stramentov, Bonhams‘ new director of contemporary art shares his advice for those seeking a haven for either their passion for art or their nest egg.
Antique Trader: Is this a good time for U.S. investors to jump into the Asian market to make strategic purchases of Asian art and antiques?
Andrew Stramentov: The Art Market is at times unpredictable and the decision to collect is a very personal one. The market for Asian works of art is strong and continues to grow in popularity.
Both Eastern and non-Eastern collectors are passionate and dedicated to collecting the best examples of Chinese Art, whether it is Imperial objects or Contemporary paintings. There has been a long history of trade between East and West, from the silk route to the spice road and this is simply an extension of that. Tastes are becoming more refined, and diversified as people discover art forms, be it from the wealth of new galleries opening- both western and local – or the new or existing museums.
AT: What are some of the contemporary Asian artists buyers should seek out when looking to collect Asian art?
Stramentov: The established artists that the current market is interested in are artists like Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun, who are both late career artists but have produced a wealth of fabulous work which very much encapsulates the Eastern philosophies within their oeuvre while clearly being influenced by the best of European art.
AT: If a client was interested in investing in fine Asian art, which purchases, artists, mediums (ceramics, jade, paintings, contemporary sculpture) or eras would you suggest?
Stramentov: Buy with your heart, not what you think will give you a return when you sell it. Seek advice from people you trust and most of all, if you see something and you like it, read about the artist. You can discover as much in books and the internet as you can in museums. If you buy something, spend time with it.
AT: Among contemporary artists, which artists or artistic forms do you see as being solid investments over the next decade?
Stramentov: To make a solid investment over the next decade, collectors should purchase works by artists who have already gathered exhibition history, literature, and are already on display in important public collections.
AT: What important services does the newly formed Bonhams Contemporary Art Department offer for its clients (both buyers and sellers)?
Stramentov: Bonhams Contemporary Art Department seeks to offer tightly curated sales where each work is allowed to shine. We also aim to bring works that are fresh to the market and that represent the best of each artist. Consignors, as well as buyers, will receive the team’s full attention, which is not necessarily true at every auction house.
AT: Can you discuss any important collections your department is expecting to manage in 2012?
Stramentov: Following the launch of the first Contemporary One Sale in London in October 2011 and the launch of the Contemporary Art Sales in New York and in Hong-Kong in May 2012, we will continue to expand our Contemporary Art Sales.