Artworks are generally recognized as good investments.
Like other investments, they may appreciate or depreciate over time.
This depends on several factors, including the rise or decline of the popularity of the artist, or the style and theme featured in the art work.
An art collector hardly has control over these factors—they are dictated by the changing zeitgeist, and influenced by the socio-cultural and political climate.
What the art collector has control over in keeping the artwork valuable, is the care that he or she must exercise over the piece.
Professional artists typically do their best to make sure the artwork lasts. As much as possible, they use only archival materials and lightfast pigments to ensure the longevity of the artwork.
But the artist can only do so much; half of the responsibility of keeping the artwork in prime condition belongs to the collector.
Here are several tips for preserving art:
- Keep the artwork in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and moisture. Moisture causes paper to warp, may break down chemicals in the paper to cause discoloration, and even allow for the growth of mold and mildew. Meantime, direct exposure to sunlight causes pigments to fade, especially if the paints used do not have a high lightfastness rating. That said, even the most lightfast paints will fade if exposed to excessive direct sunlight.
- Dust artworks periodically. This will prevent dirt from building up on the artwork. Acrylic paintings may be cleaned with a dry rag while oil paintings may be wiped with slightly dampened cloth. The glass surface of framed watercolour paintings or prints may also be dusted with dry, clean cloth. Avoid touching unframed works with bare hands as the oils and waxes from the skin may damage the paper.
- Sculptures and mixed media pieces require a different type of care, depending on the materials used. Whenever necessary, as in the case of metals, bring them to a professional to have them polished on a regular basis.
In general, artworks do not need extensive attention to last, especially if they were prepared carefully by the artist.
However, proper care will go a long way in keeping your investments both beautiful and valuable for a long time.