Art13: London's new art fair at Olympia

Art13 opens at Olympia on March 1 with more than 130 galleries from around the world eager to explain why it's smart to buy art for your home
Tulip Window by Wolfe von Lenkiewicz
Tulip Window; The Outsiders, Green Street, W1; £2,200: Wolfe von Lenkiewicz likes to play with combinations of other artists' and designers' work. This is a woodcut print from the series Morris/Polke, taking the decorative designs of William Morris and overlaying them with coloured polka dots, reminiscent of Damien Hirst, but also of the German painter Sigmar Polke, hence the artful pun in the series title
A new three-day art fair arrives in London on March 1. Art13 brings galleries to Olympia from across the world, as well as welcoming local and European spaces, many of them dealing in non-western art.

With more than 130 galleries in all, it’s a good opportunity to catch up on the breadth of painting, sculpture, prints and photography being made globally. But also, if you have ever been curious to enter into the realms of art collecting, this might be a good moment to start.

* Art13 London, sponsored by Citi Private Bank, runs from March 1-3 at Olympia Grand Hall. Tickets are £11 for adults. Visit artfairslondon.com or call 0844 854 0503.

Big international collectors will be flocking to London, but Stephanie Dieckvoss, the fair’s director, says that “if people want to start out and they have a limited budget, they can find interesting work” at the fair. Art fairs are an ideal place to begin: they have a huge amount of art in one place, and you can wander up to gallerists with relative ease.

Where to find the lowest starting prices


The fair will have dedicated sections for prints and photographs — the obvious media to collect first, because, being editions rather than unique works, they have lower price points. But in the Young Galleries and London First areas, for galleries under six years old, some paintings start at £1,000.

Ask anyone who owns original art and they will tell you it is a constantly rewarding element of their daily life. So why not think of art as the focus of your living space rather than simply an element within it?

A top American art adviser, Lisa Schiff, believes that art can transform entire rooms. “When you really try to work with the architecture and the furniture, all of it can look much better,” she says. “You have to look at it like compositions within rooms. If you have an interest in design, trying to build around art in the home is a fantastic idea.”

But what principles should a new collector follow? “I would say trust your instincts and buy what really makes your heartbeat go faster,” Stephanie Dieckvoss says. “But don’t look at it as an investment — especially if you’re a new collector and you’re going to put it up in your home. You want to wake up every morning and be happy looking at the work.”

In My Comfort Zone by Debjani Bhardwaj
In My Comfort Zone, 2012; XVA Gallery, Dubai: £700: Indian artist Debjani Bhardwaj calls herself a storyteller, and often uses clay as well as pen and ink and paper constructions like this one, in luminous colours which evoke Indian miniature traditions. Bhardwaj says that in depicting the human body she "can convey or at least suggest a remarkable array of non-physical, internal, ephemeral, spiritual, or psychological experiences"
She says buyers should avoid thinking they have to build a collection. “Think about it from the point of view that you love artworks and you might want to live with them, and if it turns into a collection, then that’s amazing,” she adds. “But don’t put yourself under the pressure that you now want to be a serious collector, and therefore be ultra-cautious in every decision you make.”

Talk to the experts


Also key is talking to the gallerists — they deal with the artist and their works every day, know how best to install them and look after them. “It is about buying the appropriate art for the budget, for the space and for your needs,” says Dieckvoss.

Achieving that delicate balance is “a bit like using very fine cooking ingredients,” laughs Domo Baal, a London gallerist of 13 years, who has a stand at the fair.

“Some artworks — like some recipes — only work in particular circumstances: if you can’t caramelise the sugar, the crème brûlée won’t work. There are artworks and artists where you do have certain conditions — for example there’s no point installing a dark photograph if you don’t have a space where you can put light on it. But most of those practical things you can work around when you really love an artist’s work.”

It’s a sentiment with which everyone agrees: whatever form your first foray into collecting takes, the key ingredient in making it work is your passion for the art.

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