Caring for Your Fine Art
Now that you have purchased some fine art, be it paintings, drawings, or even sculpture, you may be unsure of how to maintain it correctly. There are both organizational and maintenance concerns and each should be covered by a plan of action. From purchase through display, here are several matters which need to be covered:
When you purchase art, you may be overwhelmed with the details you need to record. A gallery or seller should provide you with:
- Bill of sale
- Letter of authenticity
- Provenance (ownership history)
- Artist resume & biography, statement
- Appraiser/gallerist statement about artist and work, if it is known to them
- Care instructions
You will need to handle several details on your own, like shipping. The gallerist will be able to assist you with suggestions on how best to ship your work and insurance options for peace of mind. It is very important to protect your artwork, whether a small private or large corporate collection. There are several steps involved in the process of assessing risk and obtaining insurance
Before you assume that your homeowner’s insurance will automatically cover your fine artwork, check the policy closely. If you do not have it specifically listed, you may find out (unfortunately) that there are exclusions for art. Art insurance specialists can help you determine the appropriate coverage for your fine art (especially fair and market-valued compensation), and explain how the claims process works. To obtain insurance for your artwork, you will need all the documentation mentioned above. Be sure you understand how damage claims are handled and what events might not be covered.
There is risk to everything in life. However, there are methods to managing and reducing the inherent risk of owning and displaying fine art. The FBI Art Theft Program estimates the value of worldwide art theft is between $4 and $6 billion annually. A quality security system which includes protecting entry points, motion sensors, video surveillance, and even alarms on high dollar artwork, can give you not only peace of mind but reduce your insurance cost. One possible overlooked risk is the accessibility of your artwork to others: contractors, household employees, and guests). If something does happen, you need to know who has been around your art!
If something does happen, you need to have a plan in place for replacing or repairing lost or damaged works. Natural disasters like flood, fire, tornado, or even a power outage can result in damage. By having a plan in place, either created yourself or with the help of an industry consultant, you will be able to assess the collection, document any losses, and have damaged items restored.
We have covered all the boring parts of caring for your new art, but you are ready to enjoy it! Let’s discuss some common mistakes relating to the actual piece of art:
Take this act seriously; proper framing ensures the work can be removed later without damage and can complement the piece. A professional framer will follow industry standards and best practices designed to protect your investment. This is a small expense in protecting your valuable piece.
There are several choices, and there is a difference. Non-glare and regular glass offer no-to-½ protection against damaging UV rays. Plexiglass offers 60% UV protection. Museum glass is the most effective (and most expensive), allowing less than 1% light reflection and blocking 99% of damaging UV rays.
Direct sunlight, drastic changes in temperature and humidity, and exposure to central A/C and forced air heat sources can damage artwork. The ideal temperature is between 65 & 70 degrees F, and to minimize damage in sunny locations (light damage is irreversible), rotate pieces regularly. This consistent handling will keep you apprised of the works’ condition, reduce environmental effects and change how you view your collection.
A term for preventative maintenance; you need to keep your collection in top shape, but don’t get too harsh cleaning the pieces. Glass cleaner is not a desirable choice; a dry cloth and small amount of rubbing alcohol will tackle most glass. Especially if purchased already framed, do not use furniture cleaner on frames. It can reduce the patina (and antique value) of the frame itself.
You may feel that, with only a few pieces in your collection, no art collection management software is necessary, and you may be right. If you are cataloging your small collection, you can start with details like:
- Artist’s name
- Date of creation
- Measurements and condition
- Photos (note signatures and any damage)
- Number each piece
If you are unsure of the appropriate time to begin electronic documentation, 12 seems to be the “magic” number. A database of documents and supporting images will help you for insurance purposes, your investment and estate planning, and to facilitate any future sales. By having this information in an organized and easily-accessible location (like the cloud), you have access to it at any time.
Further, this online management can help you analyze your collection’s worth over time. By recording history, values, and the worth of your collection, you can maintain it most effectively.
How Sybaris Can Help
Whether starting your journey to becoming a collector, or looking for a new relationship to support your growing collection, look to Sybaris Collection. From our Buyer Protection and free Art Advisory Programs, to our various galleries and exclusive ARTclub offers, we can improve your art buying experience, as well as ownership, so it is satisfying and culturally educational.