I believe that all art tells a story—all art. That includes abstract expressionist work, even a painting that consists of one dot on a blank canvas. Now I am certain that many artists, including those I represent, fine art professors, critics and art magazine editors will disagree. I understand their positions-but in my opinion they are simply all wrong.
This is an important consideration because as collectors or would-be collectors looking for the story behind the work is exactly what adds both personal and financial value to the purchase. So here is my argument. One can always ask an artist the question and expect a reply to: “Why did you choose to do that out of everything you could have done?” Now the artist may say that she had no idea why she placed one line under another, that it just felt right, but she also made a judgment that it looked right that way. In other words, as a work progresses she is making decisions even if she can’t articulate them. Of course, most artists can talk about their work and the reasons why they do what they do.
As a collector a collector want-to-be, I believe you should focus on the visual impact the work has on you and also the story. The story can be in the artists’ statements or about the artists themselves. But it is much more rewarding to buy art that you believe touches you than to rely on gallerists like yours truly or critics to tell you what you should own or what has the best chance of appreciation. I spent many years on Wall Street, and I can tell you categorically that asset classes in which the intrinsic value is difficult to quantify can depreciate as fast as appreciate. Beside the artist's time and the cost of canvas, paint, marble, etc., appreciation comes from a lot of intangibles that can be fleeting. This is one of the reasons I represent artists is the $5000 to $30000 price range. The downside risk is limited and the rewards of owning the work can be experienced for a lifetime.