Starting an Art Collection with Versus Art

Following my interview with Versus Art back in June, after the launch of their online sales platform, we meet again. This time, to discuss art collecting in Dubai. Yes, there is potential, and yes, there is opportunity. But often times, when it comes to taking the first step towards building a collection, there is also this feeling of intimidation, provoked by the so-called artworld.
Putting the experts’ dictates and approvals aside, starting a collection should be about the realization of an aesthetic that is appealing, paired with the desire to become a temporary custodian thereof. That is art’s true beauty - it is personal, subjective and proper to each individual because of what it provokes in them, how it hooks them. Keeping this in mind, here are a few steps towards genuine art collecting by the creators of Versus Art.

Listen to yourself
While it is always wise to get advice, buying art shouldn’t be about seeking permission or recognition. Collecting is a very instinctive process and in the end, the decision is yours, based on how an artwork makes you feel and invites you to explore yourself. You should feel comfortable with the piece you are buying. It will hang on your walls and be around you everyday, acquiring more significance with each moment of observation and becoming a reflection of who you are.

Untitled 15, Jovan Trkulja
Silkscreen on Munken Lynx, 70x100cm
Edition of 100, USD 272

The more you know, the more you will appreciate a piece of art.  Therefore, amass as much information as possible, to understand the technical skills, the media and of course the artist himself. Opportunities are plenty – visit artist studios and get to know them, talk to curators, attend gallery openings and dig into the infinite source of information that Internet is today. Be aware of your aesthetic surroundings, no matter in which form (music, performance art, literature). They will develop your sensitivity about art. If possible, take a few classes in painting, to understand the fundamentals, which later on you will be able to recognize in the works you admire

What is hidden in the fog, Martin Vlach, 2013
Photography on archival paper, 42x59.4cm
USD 400

By definition, an art collection is a compilation of artworks with a defined, common thread bringing all the pieces together.
To start with, define your own criteria, based on aesthetics that appeal to you. Once again, these are very personal and can focus on a particular theme, geographical area or medium.
Establishing a yearly budget should be part of your criteria. Depending on it, you can choose to focus on small works, limited edition prints or etchings by established artists, or rather turn to larger works by emerging artists.

Untitled, Rami Farook, 2014
Photography on archival fine art paper, 34x38cm
Open edition, USD 245

The process can be impulsive or result from a lengthy reflection. There is no right way. Again, it’s instinctive and proper to each individual. When you see a piece that attracts you, it probably means that it matches your criteria, whether you recognize this instantly or because your subconscious does. And if you think about it for days to come, that’s probably a good enough hint to make it your own.  Art collecting is about acquiring what moves you, so if you buy genuinely, you will be satisfied.
Love a piece your budget doesn’t allow you to buy? You should know that there is a 10 percent leeway in price at most of the galleries, which can go up to 20 percent off for their regular customers. In addition, they offer payment plans without interest.
Another way is to eliminate the middleman and buy directly from the artists. This is mostly valid with emerging artists, who do not yet have exclusive contracts with galleries, and can adjust their prices independently. 

Untitled, Louis Terai, 2013
Mixed media, 7x7cm, 
Original, USD 150

You did it. Bought the first piece of your collection, certificate in hand. No matter how exhilarating, the process does not stop here. Preserving your collection and caring for it in the right way is as important as all the steps above. First of all, the art you love and buy deserves quality framing. The common trap here is to save on what seems just an envelope, and this often leads to irreparable damages. Visit framers who provide museum quality solutions and choose acid free mounts for your prints or photographs, as they will enhance durability and longevity. Opt for redwood when having your canvases stretched, and follow the dealers’ care instructions when it comes to sculptures.

Noah’s Ark, Unknown Turkish artist, 2012
Mixed media on antique manuscript, 17.5x26cm
Original USD 340

For a start, this can be done using a Word document or a PowerPoint. Each page will show an image of the artwork, with information about the acquisition, the gallery and the artist (date, price, medium, dimensions, care instructions, previous owners). Attached to it should be a copy of your certificate. As your collection grows larger, you might consider buying a museum software, which will help you keep track of your artwork more efficiently, and will also be of use for insurance purposes.

Untitled, Unknown Turkish artist, 2013
Ink on fine art paper, 22.5x31cm
Original USD 260
Once framed and documented, it is time to find the right placement for your art inside your home. Try to avoid color matching with your furniture or walls. Disparity will create more depth and will make your art stand out.
Your thoughts should be more focused on the size of each piece and its placement on the walls, contributing to a visual balance inside your house. The center of an artwork should hang approximately 160 centimeters from the floor. If your collection consists of mostly smaller pieces, group a few of them together on one wall, rather than displaying them one by one.
Larger pieces, on the contrary, need to breathe. Hanging them separately on a wall will give them much more impact.
The pieces you love the most should have their place in the rooms you spend the most time in, allowing you to contemplate. With time and the acquisition of new pieces, your preferences might change. This will be the moment to shift your art around the house, for a new perspective. The rest is, again, up to you and your instincts.

From theory to practice, you have seen between the lines six examples of a mini collection, curated by the founders of Versus Art – Nina Trojanovic and Nemanja Valjarevic. Here are their thoughts:

These six pieces were selected based on feeling mostly. We felt they worked well together on different levels. First of all, the colour scheme is a mix of subtle greys, black and white, with a couple smaller gems to add a bit of colour.
The theme of this mini collection was set by one of the works ‘Free, Independent, Productive, Happy’ - which was used as a starting point and the rest of the pieces corresponding to this title were progressively added.
With six artworks, we cover three continents (Middle East, Europe and Asia) and a diversity of media (photography, painting, mixed media.
The selection is purposely comprised of small pieces, easy to move around, pack and travel with, and hang in any home. However big or small your space, these works are bound to find their place on any wall. Their reasonable prices (in total USD 1667 or AED 6117) are in line with Versus philosophy of acquiring quality, original works without breaking the bank.

Ready to start? Find all of the mentioned artworks and many more online or visit the 

Photo credits
Images courtesy of Versus Art