The Luxury Channel speaks to Dr. Jan Seewald, Executive Curator of LUMAS, about investing in photography….
What do you think is important to consider when investing in photography?
Even though it is tempting to consider art as an investment, I would not recommend collecting with a financial motivation when starting out. Art should always trigger emotions and it is vital to actually “fall in love” with a piece to enjoy it over a long period of time. However, it is important to determine how much one is willing to spend on photography each month or each quarter, especially when starting out. Before buying something, it is most important to actually find out what you like. To determine this, the following strategy always worked for me: go to museums, browse through galleries, attend art fairs whenever possible and flip through photography books. This way, you will find out what you are drawn to because you may personally relate to it. Pretend you have an unlimited budget and see what you would buy, if there were no limits. Your taste will narrow down and you will know quickly where your soft spot is. Actually, LUMAS is a great place to experience a large variety of works, from established masters to young talents and from very affordable prices to more expensive pieces. Over the years, LUMAS has been making contemporary photography accessible to a wider audience of art enthusiasts and young collectors – both online and in over 35 galleries around the world. More than 1,800 works by 200 established artists and very promising newcomers deliver a comprehensive look into the contemporary art and design scenes.
Have you seen any particular trends across LUMAS’ 37 worldwide galleries over the last ten years?
A trend, which is quite interesting, is that more and more people are buying art online. That was not the case when we started out with LUMAS ten years ago. A lot of people come to one of our LUMAS galleries and see something they like, but they may not want to decide straight away. They want to think about the perfect place for their new work and make the choice at home. Picking up on this trend we created an app, which allows the user to visualise any work from the LUMAS portfolio in their own home, by downloading a placeholder code on the wall, which allows you to view any LUMAS photograph in 3D on your own wall. Once you find a work you like, convenient in-app ordering is possible from the LUMAS Online Shop.
Do you think photography will continue to increase in popularity as a fine art form?
Photography has become more and more popular over the last couple of years. Historically, prices for photographs used to be much lower then for other art forms, such as paintings or sculpture, but this is changing fast. There is a strong increase in value and in prices, especially when it comes to big names such as Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Andreas Gursky, Richard Prince or Cindy Sherman. But the interest in photography is growing stronger, which is apparent in the growing worldwide interest in photo fairs, such as Paris Photo, Unseen Photo Fair Amsterdam, AIPAD or the newly established Photo London, which is being held for the first time in May this year. I think photography will continue to grow in popularity and we have not seen the peak yet. The fact that photography is now considered to be an art form in the same league as painting and sculpture has only been a fairly recent development in art history. It slowly evolved from documentary photography and journalism to one of the most important mediums in art. Maybe that’s why photography is more accessible to new collectors than other, more established art forms. At least, that’s our experience and it has shaped our understanding of art, which was a key factor when LUMAS was founded.