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Why Russian Modern Art
by Yuri Tsapayev
Alexander Dobrovolsky, Stop composition. 1991, oil on canvas, 100 x 150 cm
Constantine Troitsky, Pink Landscape. 1998, oil on canvas, 80 x 100 cm
Defects provide profit opportunity if the cost of the item plus the cost of competent restoration is
much less than the current market value of the item in fine condition. With prints or any work of art,
this requires a keen eye for defects that depress the purchase price, but which can be remedied by
an expert restorer. Investors often bring a restorer with them to inspect prints on offer and estimate
restoration cost. The most skillful restorers cover their tracks so well that they intentionally leave
minor defects, to divert attention from the major ones they repaired. Clumsy restoration, such as
bleaching to remove foxing stains, or using water on water-soluble dyes, can leave the print in worse
condition than it started. Expert restoration involves chemical analysis of stains and papers, precise
matching of treatments to defects, and where the original papers in Old Master prints are simply no
longer available, artificial aging of the replaced paper. Ideally all of these matters should be disclosed
to buyers, though independent investigation is advisable.

Relative scarcity changes over time; the investment opportunity consists of buying when
works are plentiful and holding them until they become rare. This ‘buy-and-hold’ approach to
contemporary art is actually easier than it seems. It does not require waiting an entire lifetime to
realize scarcity-value. While the art market, rather ghoulishly, anticipates the deaths of prominent
artists and prices their work accordingly, in fact it is more rewarding to look at one oeuvre as
encompassing several lifetimes. Artists grow and develop new understandings, techniques, and
themes as they mature, and in many cases they never return to an earlier style. Some keep their
youthful exuberance till the end, and some don’t. Some do their most profound work in youth or
middle age, and then spend the rest of their lives in mannered imitation of those successes. Others
reach a peak of performance after a lifetime of effort. For some collectors, earlier work holds the
key to later work, and acquires value as part of the whole story. Close study of the trajectory of an
artist’s life and work will often reveal unexpected scarcities, periods of past accomplishment that,
sadly, will never be recovered even though the artist may still be alive.


The provenance of an artwork is simply the history of who owned it. A print from a well
known museum or private collection is worth more in the market than an otherwise equivalent print
from an unknown source. The art market presumes that the museum or discerning collector had the
means to vet authenticity, condition, and the other elements of value, and the curatorial judgment to
know what’s best. Essentially the price contains an insurance premium based on reliance on
established authority. Just as new evidence can change attribution (who made the work), new
evidence can also change provenance (who owned the work) and hence market value. Tracing
provenance can reveal the ups and downs of an artist’s reputation, how the work was perceived and
valued during different periods of history, as shown in sales records, probate records, and other
transaction documents.


People respond to and buy what they are most familiar with. They may have acquired that
familiarity through childhood experiences, movies, education or research in an artistic specialty,
travel, work, publicity, or various other sources. Subjects that tap into childhood or adolescent
memories predictably fuel the nostalgia boom of every generation that comes of art-buying age.
Souvenirs of places, even or especially far-off places and times, enable indulgence in fantasy. Works
of iconic significance that ‘define who we are’ or embody a recognizable mood or are intimately
bound up with a moment of history have special value.


An artist who influenced later artists is Important. Such influences are sometimes hard to pin
down, requiring much research on questions of who saw what when. Technical innovation such as
aquatint, chiaroscuro, and Pointillism, confers Importance, as do revolutions in style such as
Impressionism, Cubism, and Abstract Expressionism. Works representing an identifiable style or art
movement acquire significance greater than they might have on their own. Agenda-driven art tries to
borrow Importance from current events -- a dubious strategy, since headlines happen every day,
while truly great art is still a rare occurrence. Investors who are prepared for today’s political art to
be relegated to the ranks of the forgotten are least likely to be disappointed.


Works requiring the use of an extremely difficult or demanding technique may possess
additional value on account of their rarity. But technical wizardry in the absence of aesthetic appeal
usually does not bring a high price. Durer’s engravings are superb technical accomplishments
requiring months of labor, but their artistry goes well beyond technique. The history of printmaking
reveals constant competition between intrinsically rare special techniques and easier-to-produce
(and therefore cheaper) reproductions. The value of the special technique then hinges on a difference
in quality, such as subtle tonal gradation, precision of line, depth of color, and an overall hand-made
look. At times, however, the industrial, mass-produced look has a superior cachet, as in the past
vogue for Ben-day dots, xerography, and faded or garish color. Digital prints made with high-quality
home printers are becoming increasingly affordable to produce, a trend which will inevitably be
reflected in their price. As digital prints proliferate, their market prices will converge toward the cost
of their materials. Original, hand-made prints have some sort of distinguishing mark or signature look
that cannot be reproduced en masse. Ultimately the value of technique is based on how well-
integrated it is with artistic expression.

According to financial advisors and analysts, investing in Russian Contemporary art is now
considered as a common form of alternative investment. All of over the world people are seeing the
purchase a painting or a sculpture as one of the best investments they can make. Those with large
amounts of money at their disposal often shy away from buying shares of stock or precious metals
and instead choose to invest in a beautiful piece of art with a large probability of appreciating in
value. Many of the people currently investing in Russian art are entrepreneurs and businessmen who
often consider the purchase of art as a solid investment strategy. Of course, many of them become
collectors themselves and take care to ensure that their collection is of the highest quality. In fact,
many investors gradually become passionate art lovers and buy only the best works of art they can
find. After a marked recession, which took place at the beginning of this decade, the Russia is now
seeing the emergence of a new group of entrepreneurs who are beginning to buy art and demanding
paintings of only the highest quality.
Beyond the prestige involved, another advantage of investing in art is the fact that a painting
or sculpture, in contrast to a share of stock, is a unique and inimitable commodity. The number of
quality pieces on the market decreases with time, while the value of those pieces can often rise
spectacularly. This is one of the main reasons why people decide to purchase art as an investment.
Many pieces end up in private collections and may never be put on the market again. As a result, the
value of art continues to rise, making for a potentially lucrative investment.

From the perspective of economists and financial advisors, any purchase of art should be seen as a
long-term investment. It can often take five years or more before the price of a work grows by any
substantial amount. And of course, this does not happen with the works of every artist. It is
predominantly the work of younger artists that sharply increase during a short period of time.


Contemporary art serves as a powerful motivator, more for the artist than the critic and
reviewer and probably more for the artist than the fan. An artist is something of an obsessed fanatic
forever on a quest to create the most compelling and moving piece of art. An artist grows through his
art; each new piece extends the limit of who he is and who he will always be. Artists seek longevity
and even immortality through their art. With each new piece of art finished, an artist has refined the
definition of who he is for now anyone who sees or hears his results will know something of the
creator and his vision and hopes and fears. I believe that the main value of art is in its process rather
than results that the act of creating new things expands us and teaches us new ways to reach goals.
Being creative is the true value of being artistic. This individual process of growing through creative
arts helps us produce varying new vistas on humanity that can further help the next generation grow
in its own world of creative art. In such a view, the individual growth each artist achieves increases
the whole culture, because it helps fill the world with gifted environments that encourage young artists
to seek their own artistic journeys. Art comes from our apparently innate desire to express
ourselves; some of us, at least, feel the urge to be creative. I would wager that some of the art dug
up from times past has less cultural significance than some archeologists say; there is a percentage of
art created by any artist that has no deep inspiration beyond a desire to make something beautiful,
novel or strange. Other art is simply a form of mimicking.
A diverse portfolio is the key for investors looking to spread their risk and art investment
funds are among the more unusual, alternative investment schemes available these days. Marketed as
a diversified pool run by savvy managers with decades of experience in the field, art investment
funds have popped up throughout the United States, China, Russia and England. The funds continue
to receive interest from investors and money managers despite the lack of successes that has been
recorded for many now-defunct funds. The idea behind art investment funds makes sense upon first
inspection. The funds are marketed as an opportunity to combine a rational analysis of the fine art
markets with traditional connoisseurial expertise in the form of a panel of art-market ex-patriots
headlining each fund. The hope is that these funds will attract "qualified" investors who want a piece
of the lucrative art market. The fund experts are tasked with purchasing art and antiques that will
produce an annual return of 10-15% and deaccessioning the work after a set length of time.
However, after exploring the numerous failed attempts of the art investment fund idea, it is apparent
that art can never be measured and quantified in a way that fulfills the investor's requirements. There
are no operational guides or manuals about investing in or managing successful art funds. Despite
poor performance, the idea of the art investment fund continues to be marketed to investors. In
recent years, more than a dozen art-only investment funds have tried to cash in on the art market's
current boom. The new fund managers advertise their superior abilities to identify what artworks and
artists are going to be hotter tomorrow than they are today, but do not deny the risk involved.
There is no denying that the right artworks have produced great returns. Because of this,
most collectors look to invest in artworks that will produce financial as well as aesthetic returns.
If you are interested in the art market and want to invest in art, it is a good idea to keep the fund
small - either a personal investment or with a partner - and employ the guidance of an art advisor
with market experience. The advisor should be a consultant that charges a fee rather than a money
manager that is entitled to a percentage of your earnings. While no client wants to add a work to
their collection that will depreciate in value, the primary consideration should be how a particular
painting or object fits into a collection, as well as its place in art history. Buying art for art's sake has
proven to be a successful financial strategy. So, rather than invest your hard earned money in an art
investment fund, take that money and invest in a personal collection that can be enjoyed by your
family. Artodox.us considers investing in fine art to be an investment in living. We encourage our
clients to spend time researching art and artists that they are interested in and spend time building a
collection that can be enjoyed in their home or office. It is our belief that art does not have to be a
purely financial investment; art can be a cultural investment that will provide you with new interests
while expanding your cultural and financial horizons. There are many examples of collectors who
have purchased art they love only to find out years later that it will sell for substantially more than
they paid for it. Rather than a calculated move, this windfall is the perk of having a great art
For the most part, your heirs will reap the benefits of your collection. Artworks that are well
bought and carefully selected become more valuable as time goes on and on and on. The real money
is being made by those willing to hold on to art for long periods of time. Art is for the aesthetic
enjoyment and because of this we encourage our clients to fall in love with a work of art and
purchase it with passion. If you do this, you will end up with an investment that will never disappoint.
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