How to buy art

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The Independent Culture

"I know very little about contemporary art but have £1,000 to invest. Any advice?" When Charles Saatchi was asked this in an interview in 'The Independent', he responded: "Premium bonds. Art is no investment unless you get very, very lucky, and can beat the professionals at their game. Buy something you really like that will give you a thousand pounds' worth of pleasure over the years. And take your time looking for something special, because looking is half the fun."

Good advice from the man branded an "art shopaholic" by Damien Hirst. But what would the organisers of next week's art-buying bonanza recommend? The sheer scale of Frieze is daunting, with 150 contemporary galleries to choose from. Co-director Matthew Slotover points out: "If you were to spend five minutes at every exhibitor it would take a couple of days to get round." He recommends advance research to pick out galleries of particular interest – you can download the entire floorplan from the website. If you can, go on Friday: tickets are £5 cheaper in an effort to reduce the weekend crush.



Soraya Rodriguez, director of Zoo Art Fair, stresses the importance of research. Like Saatchi, she wouldn't recommend buying art to turn a quick profit. Her top three tips: "One, do as much research in advance as possible. This is often best done on their website. Two, spend a long time looking around the fair and speak to gallerists about works you find interesting. Background information can often sway your opinion. And three, it's good to start a collection with younger galleries. Prices will be lower, and you can make a difference to an artist's and a gallery's career – which they will remember."



At Kounter Kulture, things get a little younger, edgier – and cheaper. Emma Poole, director at Opus Arts, the Newcastle gallery responsible for the fair, describes it as "an art fair getting back to its roots. It's not stuffy or elitist, and we have staff on hand to explain the work." In terms of investment, she cites the old dilemma of choosing between emerging and established artists. "You need to look at the level of interest surrounding an emerging artist," she says. "Frieze week is a perfect time to buy; there is so much to see." Perhaps unsurprisingly, her top tip is "to buy the very best you can afford".



This year, I've booked a holiday with my kids straight after Frieze week to recuperate. I get exhausted, and there is a limit to the amount of pieces, people and things you can see.



But I do quite enjoy the art fairs. Rather than sit and be hunted, I try to go and hunt. It's a social opportunity – everyone is working, but in terms of the London art calendar it is the hiatus moment. There is a White Cube party every year and last year Jay Jopling got sponsorship for the champagne. The champagne breakfast is another phenomenon of Frieze week. It's so difficult to get people's attention during normal hours that this becomes a way of getting people to go to things.



This year, I have work at Frieze on Galerie Krinzinger's stand, and with Galerie Almine Rech. I'm showing 'Burnt Out', a bronze cast of a fire, a circle of bricks with ash inside it, painted to look like fire. My New York gallery, Sean Kelly, doesn't have a booth at Frieze but they come. At Zoo, I'll have some works at Riflemaker. I've also curated a little exhibition in the Tottenham Court Road with my friend Cedric Christie, in the Laure Genillard Gallery, opening on 17 October. 'Presque Rien 2' is a sculpture and painting exhibition focusing on absence as a positive drive in art, from the late 1960s to contemporary artists like Susan Collis and Gerwald Rockenschaub.



During Frieze week, it seems the alternative to art is yet more art. Everything becomes Frieze-related, and that is one of the challenges. We have to fit in Warhol at the Hayward and Rothko at Tate Modern. There is tension this year about the financial markets and a lot of galleries are very nervous. As an artist it worries me slightly, but I'm afraid it also amuses me a little.

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