There was a great article written by Diego Guerrero for El Tiempo today about how now was a good time to buy Latin American art. Actually Diego, though I admire your writings (and I have still to do a detailed follow-up on an article you wrote a few weeks ago, which I hope to get around to this week) and totally accept your general hypothesis – the time to buy was really about 10 years ago!
Yep, it`s not that Latin American art is at its peak as an asset class – far from it – but the world art industry as a whole has had its eyes off-the-ball interms of Latin American art for at least the last two decades and in terms of Colombian contemporary art at least since the death of Marta Traba.
Sure some Colombian artists have done well during that time, but there are sooooo many that have been overlooked and are just starting to get “discovered”. Most of those who get the big press run with the “in crowd” and move in the “right circles” even though their art is not particularly great. Some are still born with a silver spoon in their mouths and come from rich families. when I talk about art in Colombia, the number of times I have heard the reply – ooh, my aunt paints and she`s pretty good! Boring! But worst of all, due to all of this these aunties get their work exposed in some top galleries because their related family move industries in Colombia – and some of these industrial barons just happen to . . . invest in art – ooh, what a coincidence!
I know some excellent artists who have ridden the rails of poverty and still their art is not recognized in Colombia because the country is still very elitist in that sense – and those very same artists, once their work gets external exposure start to receive the appreciation they and their art deserve. But I do digress slightly. All I will add is that not every artist that get press or gallery time in Colombia is worthy of that coverage – and many artists that are do not get covered.
Ok, where were we?, Ah, yes!
Time to Invest in Colombian Art?
Yes it is time to invest in Colombian art – but you do have to take care because there have been distorsions in the local market pricing for the last 15 years that have still to get completely ironed out. These were caused by the influx of cheap drug money into the country in the early nineties.
The local “consecrated” artists are in some ways very cheap in international terms – but the reality is, many of them have never moved in the international markets. Even a well known living artist like Ana Mercedes Hoyos has only around 20 international auctions to her name yet her work is locally moving at over $50,000 and sometime more – yet my belief is that she has still a long way to go if she want to market her art properly. With respect to the way Chinese art is getting promoted internationally, her works are way underpriced – but I do ask the question – couldn`t it be that many Chinese artworks are way overpriced . . . . ? I tend towards the latter as my answer as many of these have come form left field – but again, I digress.
Art as an investment requires the same due diligence that Benjamin Graham and other noted investors would probably give as advice prior to deciding upon where to place his money in stocks. However, art does instill in us the emotions that the purchase of a common stock probably never will!
Another reason that NOW is the time to invest in Colombian art and a rather non-altruistic reason is the following: art can unite people, countries and companies. Right now, Colombian business and the country is on a wave. Many new investors and companies are setting up business in Colombia and actually being able to show that they are “interested” in Colombia via its culture is a great way of creating/maintaining local relations on a good level. Again, not what we want to hear as art lovers – but it is a reality. It is actually also good for Colombian art – and as the country continues to develop you can expect to see further relations develop between businesses that are setting up in Colombia and the development of the careers of some of the countries artists at a national and international level – mark may words! So expect to see some new sales in the near future of some Colombian business moguls aunts artwork!
Till the next one! 🙂
If you are interested in reading Diego`s original post (in Spanish) here is the link:
Note: The article when published in Lecturas was followed up by an article by Cecilia Valdes Urrutia called “The World Invest in Art” and was orginally published in El Mercurio of Chile and is also worth reading.
If you want to discuss this article just write me a comment!