The ABC of the Art Collector

By Regina de Con Cossío

The very essence of collecting is about assembling an array of objects through an act of love. The collector’s passion activates his / her search and, at the end of the day, his / her possessions. Within the artworld, the repertoire typically comprises painting, sculpture, antiques, photography. In an non philosophical way, it refers to objects.

Language is alway important regarding art. Since ever, the art world have built its own slang in order to create an identity, but also to communicate with each other in the midst of the dynamics art involves. That is way I offer you, as an art collector you are, a useful portable dictonary to be able to get involved with some key concepts when collecting art.

Appraisal: It is the evaluation of a work’s market or insurance value.

Artist’s Proof: They are signed A/P and are considered a status symbol in the world of art collecting.


Assemble: To come together in a single place or bring parts together in a single group.

Blue Chip: The term refers to artworks which are expected to hold or increase in economic value regardless of other market conditions.

Catalogue Raisonne: Complete listing of all works by an artist known at the time of compilation. It includes an identifying catalogue number for each work listed, as well as information such as provenance, current location, and or exhibition history.

Collect: Bring or gather together.

Collector: Someone who collects objects because they are beautiful, valuable, or interesting.

Connoisseur: French traditional, pre-1835, spelling of connaisseur, from Middle-French connoistre, then connaitre is a person who has a great deal of knowledge about the fine arts.

Condition Report: Notes any damage or unusual characteristics relating to an item or work of art. The type and location of damage are explained in detail to ensure a complete examination.

Flipping: Art flippers buy and sell art to turn a profit. Most flipping is done by art collectors as a way of making money to reinvest and expand their art collection.

Garner: To collect something, usually after much work or with difficulty.

Love: An intense feeling of deep affection.

Object: General term for any “thing” which is conditioned by the subjects representation.

Passion: A strong and barely controllable emotion.

Philatelist: A person who collects or studies stamps.

Primary Art Market: When an artwork is sold (and the price is established) for the first time. The pieces come directly from the artist studio.

Private Collection: A PC is an array of pieces belonging usually to an individual art collector, or company, or private institution.

Provenance: It refers to the origin of the piece: where does it come from? In other words, the record of history, ownership and origin.

Secondary Art Market: It means re-selling the artworks, through galleries, dealers or at auction.