ART CONFIDENTIAL Part 4 – Moving from Art Enthusiast to Art Collector November 27 2019

Many people interested in buying original art are intimidated by the art world and don’t know where to turn for guidance. Art Confidential is a 5-part guide for new art buyers. The series is written to assist new art buyers in building a foundation and a starting point for an art buying adventure that will lead to a lifetime of enjoyment and, if you’re lucky, obsession.

Written by Kelly Juhasz, Fine Art Appraisal and Services

Originally published in Distillery District Magazine, November 2019, Vol. 42  

ART CONFIDENTIAL – 5-Part Guide for New Art Buyers

Part 4

The pathway for many fine art collectors starts with an interest in hanging more than a poster on a living room wall. There is an excitement and enthusiasm that builds when one begins to look at original art. But there may also be some fear and perceived or real barriers. Many people wanting to learn more are intimidated by the jargon and scholarship associated with fine art. They are afraid to come across as uneducated and uncultured. It’s important not to let these fears prevent you from seeing the world in a different way. Like any other body of knowledge, one can learn an appreciation of fine art more easily than ever before. To begin, all you need is curiosity and time. It’s important to look at art as much as possible and make real a commitment to do so. Moving from enthusiast to collector is not only about looking, observing, and seeing, it continues on to describing, analyzing and interpreting.  

Here are some easy ways to begin looking at fine art in the city of Toronto and beyond:

  • On weekends, pick an area of the city with numerous art galleries such as the Distillery District, Yorkville, Ossington and the Junction and spend a low-stress day popping in and out.
  • Become a member of an art museum such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Power Plant or the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. Your membership, at any level, will give you access to exhibition openings, talks by curators, special viewing times and the opportunity to be surrounded by others who share your interests in art.
  • Visit other art museums in the city including the Ryerson Image Centre, Gardiner Museum, Royal Ontario Museum, The Market Gallery, University of Toronto’s Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Aga Khan Museum and others. Each has exhibitions, memberships and opportunities to see and learn.
  • Spend time online with museum collections and auction catalogues as major museums, auction houses and fine art galleries from around the world offer virtual exhibitions, articles and essays about artists, paintings, and historical and contemporary movements in fine art.
  • Subscribe to art magazines and newspapers such as Canadian Art, Inuit Art Quarterly, Border Crossings, The Art Newspaper, ARTnews and Apollo, just to name a few.
  • Attend the numerous art fairs in the city including Art Toronto, The Artist Project, and the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair that, in addition to showcasing established and emerging artists, offer talks and guided tours.
  • Retain the services of an art advisor to escort you around art fairs and point out significant works, established artists and emerging artists.
  • When on vacation, make a point of adding art museums to your itinerary.
  • Review online resources such as Visual Literacy by the Toledo Museum of Art and look for continuing education courses through art galleries and universities.

Deeper knowledge furthers your visual impact, increases your capabilities to see, and hones your ability to analyze and understand fine art and the world around you.

In becoming a collector, many will say that they selected a theme or genre of fine art as an area of focus. Because the fine art market is complex, selecting one aspect of fine art helps one direct his or her time looking and learning, understanding the associated investment commitments and narrowing his or her selection of artists, galleries, niche institutions and expert advisors. Advancement is only possible for someone who has spent the time looking at enough art and learning how to see art, and then understanding the value characteristics and the markets to have made decisions on his or her own tastes in fine art.

As collectors gain knowledge and confidence, they aim to develop a good eye. A good eye is an intuitive response cultivated from years of learning, looking at, and interpreting fine art that allows a judgement of fineness. Developing this skill helps you create your collection and at the same time, your aesthetic sensibility.

A good eye is the foundation of the artist, art historian, art advisor and art appraiser. Another word for this is a connoisseur, one who understands the details, techniques and principles of fine art and is competent to discern quality quickly. Critical tools of connoisseurship for art professionals provides the ability to think, question, investigate and build upon previous knowledge. At its highest level, it is an intellectual achievement in the development of taste.

For collectors, a good eye can mean one who enjoys with discrimination and appreciation of nuance. It can provide purpose in the creation of a collection with meaning and a focus on the artwork itself from a position of knowledge. It can mean having the ability to make good decisions in buying fine art.

For art professionals, the continuous pursuit of connoisseurship is a way of life. It’s all our time, training, practice and experience coming together. It’s about our ability to distinguish quality from quantity, as well as, our intuitive response based upon pattern recognition and ongoing work in providing meaning to both enthusiasts and collectors through exhibitions, valuations and building collections.

By building your own knowledge and developing your own eye, you can, with the assistance of a qualified fine art professional, make better decisions and extend the enjoyment of the artwork you acquire and look at every day.


Kelly Juhasz is an art advisor and a qualified appraiser specializing in fine art and antiques at Fine Art Appraisal and Services, and an Accredited Member of the International Society of Appraisers. She is the principal at Fine Art Appraisal and Services offering artist legacy services, collection management, estate planning for treasure assets, sales services and Canadian Cultural Property appraisals.