Art – Investment or Passion?

With all the hustle and bustle of Frieze London over for another year, we take a quick look back at this most influential of contemporary art fairs and explore our reasons for collecting works of art. Should art be seen as an investment, with those in the know trying to identify the up and coming artists whose work may be worth a fortune in a few years’ time? Or should we buy pieces we love and just enjoy them for what they are?

From Emerging to Iconic

Frieze London is one of the few fairs to focus only on contemporary art and living artists. The fair’s exhibiting galleries represent some of the most exciting artists working today, from the emerging to the iconic. This year’s event saw significant works by Rachel Whiteread, alongside the earthy reality of a series of large works by Marc Bauer in collaboration with the Peckham Youth Platform, and the brilliant graphic talent of South Africa’s William Kentridge.


Marc Bauer’s series of large works was the result of a collaboration with Peckham Youth Platform, exploring the themes of personal identity, gender politics and race

Sex Work & Focus

The ‘Sex Work’ section featured nine solo presentations of work by women artists working at the extreme edges of feminist art in the late 20th century. Often rejected or censored at the time, works by Penny Slinger, Betty Tompkins, Renate Bertlmann and Mary Beth Edelson have finally found their feet.  ‘Focus’ brought together 34 young galleries, all featuring works by emerging talents, with thought-provoking installations, sculpture, ceramics, photographs, paintings and performance art. The experts tell us these are a few of the ones to watch.


Andrea Büttner’s ‘Beggar’ woodcuts. Nominated for this year’s Turner Prize

Turner Prize Nominee

But among all the glitz, the gloss and the millionaires, perhaps one of the most powerful works was Andrea Büttner’s Beggar, nominated for this year’s Turner Prize and part of an ongoing series of woodblock prints. Inspired by Ernst Barlach’s sculpture, Verhüllte Bettlerin, Büttner’s work shows a simplified form of a beggar, cloaked, face hidden, arms out in supplication. The compassion of this simple work was impossible to ignore at a time when the inequalities of life in London have been so starkly highlighted.


‘Blue Garden’ by Adam Bartlett. Mixed media; acrylic, emulsion, enamel, spray paint


Unsung, Up and Coming

Of course, such an exhibition can only scratch the surface of London’s vibrant and diffuse art world. We have such a wide range of diverse talent just in this one city that it is impossible to include more than a fraction at any exhibition. So, what about the unsung, up and coming artists who may not have made it to Frieze yet? Why restrict yourself to a handful of artists that have been chosen by someone else? If you are just dipping your toe into the world of art, a little online legwork could open up a world of affordable art, with equally-talented artists just waiting to emerge from the shadows of their better-known counterparts.


‘High Wealed’ by Sam Peacock. Oils and varnish on steel

Why do we buy Art?

The search for undiscovered artists then invites the question, should art be an investment or should it stand on its own as something striking, eye-catching and valuable simply because we love it? Around the world, massive art collections are housed in vaults, never seeing the light of day – and never being seen, which is, surely, their entire raison d’etre. These are works deemed so valuable that they cannot be put on display. Then again, many investors have had their fingers burned buying works that were heralded as the next big thing, only for the artist’s career to fizzle out, unable to live up to the hype.


‘Nature Lies in the Shade of a Casino’ by Mark Powell. Bic biro on antique document

Art Belongs

At Juliettes, we firmly believe that everything in your home should be there because it is beautiful, because you love it, because it belongs. If you fall in love with something at Frieze – or any of the high end art fairs on offer around the world – buy it. Put it up on your wall or place it in your home and enjoy it. But don’t be scared to wander around some of the smaller, lesser-known galleries to find works that you like. From Scotland to St Ives, Europe to the States, art is everywhere.  This could be your chance to get in on the ground floor of something big. You could give a talented artist their big break, or be the one to set the trend rather than follow in its footsteps. And if your favourite piece appreciates in value over the years, that would be a bonus but not its primary purpose.


‘Beyond the Clouds’ by Adam Bartlett. Mixed media; acrylic, emulsion, enamel, spray paint

Don’t Follow – Set the Trend

The artists shown here are all young, talented and dynamic. We discovered them at the Curious Duke Gallery, the only space in London to specialise in urban and contemporary art works from new artists. We were amazed by the sheer range of themes, styles and methods used, from bright mixed media to drawings done in Bic biro. The gallery, and the artists here, will all be part of the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea Park from 19-22 October. Whether you are a novice or a fully-fledged art collector, fairs such as this are a great way to discover something new in relaxed and friendly surroundings. As Eleni Duke herself says, “don’t be shy to ask questions, that is what we are here for”.


‘Fragments of Matter’ by Simone Webb. Giclée print

Commission a Unique Work

One way to buy something unique that is absolutely what you are looking for is to commission a work or a series of pieces. Most emerging artists are happy to take commissions as it brings their work to a wider and appreciative audience. Do a little homework and find someone with a style you feel suits you, your personality, even your property. Talk to them about yourself, what you want and where it is to go, then let them loose to create something unique and truly yours.


‘Lost and Found’ by Andrew Millar. Polaroid collage with gold leaf

Art as your Centrepiece

Or you could turn this on its head. Rather than commissioning works to fit around your home and décor, if you have something glorious that you love to look at every single day, why not design your room around the art, with the help of a sympathetic interior designer? Colours, fabrics, shapes and styles, all chosen by someone with an eye for harmony and detail. Make the art the centrepiece – something to be noticed, admired and talked about.


‘Falling’ by Craig Keenan. Cyanotype

Speak to the Interior Artists

So, if you’ve just splashed out on something at Frieze, or you are lusting after a work you’ve seen in a gallery down the road, treat it with respect. Make the art the star. Call and speak to our interior design team about making your dream an eye-catching, artistic reality.

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