At Lenscloud, we focus on the primary art market, which is composed of artists and artist’s estates. By buying prints from us, you directly support artists and become patrons of the arts. The fundamental questions you have to ask yourself when starting an art collection are:
We would suggest starting small and while it is essential to educate yourself and train your eye for fine art photography buy what you love and what inspires you. Invest in the art that brings you this something you can’t live without.
Inform yourself by browsing our artist pages. Find information on their careers, exhibition histories, publications, presence in a major museum or private art collections, watch educational videos and read critical reviews. Select according to your tastes and interests. Follow your perceptual and instinctive response to the artwork, how the experience of seeing impresses and moves you. Then critically assess the artwork towards its meaning, importance in art history, acclaim and market.
Create aesthetic, themed or conceptual links between your artworks. Patterns may emerge quite early. Contextualize your art collection in regards to the history of art. Focus on meaningfulness and coherence. The more educated you are, as taste changes and knowledge, evolve, the more your collection will develop towards exciting new steps.
Sell your art to invest in new artworks. There are some considerations to be aware of before selling your art on the secondary art market (see below). Art is typically not liquid as an asset class and should be considered a long-term investment. We, therefore, advise always to buy the art you love, and that will fit into your home. The rule of thumb is to keep an artwork for at least five years before putting it on the secondary market and to protect it with great care. This way you safeguard your investment and act responsibly towards the career of an artist.
Collecting art is a dynamic process that involves discovery, research, interpretation, selection, display, preservation, care, and the skill to connect the object with art history but it is also a social endeavour. Be part of Lenscloud’s community of collectors. Come to our pop-up exhibitions and subscribe to our newsletter to get insiders knowledge and VIP invitations to private views and openings.
We would be delighted to guide you. Our curators are here to answer your questions and assist you in building your collection.
Authenticity and provenance are of paramount importance to collectors. You want to make sure the artwork you buy is authentic and that the provenance is impeccable. At Lenscloud, the provenance is the artist, or the artist estate and authenticity is therefore assured.
The provenance relates to the history or origin of a work of art and authenticity can sometimes come into question. Assessing that provenance leaves no doubt is key to artwork genuineness. Documented evidence of provenance contributes to ascertain that the artwork is not a forgery, a reproduction or looted art.
When buying photographs on the secondary art market (see below), always look for signatures, titles, dates, editions numbers, stamps, annotations and inscriptions that would further establish provenance and authenticity.
Primary art market
At Lenscloud, the provenance is the artist, or the artist estate and authenticity is therefore assured. Our model is to only work with artists, artist’s estates, archives or repute foundations. Each of our artworks is signed and numbered, sometimes titled, dated and inscribed, on the front or the reverse. In addition, each artwork comes with a certificate of authenticity. There is, therefore, no inherent risk with such a purchase.
Secondary art market
We believe that the secondary art market (when artworks are sold after the initial purchase) can bring uncertainties in regards to authenticity. If you buy photographs on the secondary art market, do it at auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s or Phillips or at repute art galleries who will do the necessary research and their due diligence in regards to authenticity and provenance.
Photographs are sold as unique prints, as editioned prints or as open editions.
The rarity of an artwork, the printing date and the historical provenance influences commercial value.
Editions were created in the 1970s when the photography market took on for two purposes; limit the offer of a specific print, hence ensuring rarity, and keep control of the market through tracking. If a print sells as an open edition, there are no indications of how many are existing. An edition of photographs can range from two to 150 or more. The fewer prints in the release, the higher their value. Prices can sometimes rise gradually with the edition (scaled pricing); as the work becomes less available and therefore more desirable, it's price increases until the edition is sold out. Artists often add artist’s proofs or AP’s to an edition. The aim is to keep the artist proof for herself, donate it to a museum or to sell it when the edition is sold out. Artists may release various sizes for a specific image, and larger size prints usually cost more. A unique print will hold the highest value similarly to a ‘vintage’ print.
Photographs printed before the 1970s edition system are usually open editions and categorised as ‘Vintage’ prints, ‘Later’ prints and ‘Modern’ prints. ‘Vintage’ prints have been printed soon after the image was made and are very often unique. ‘Later’ prints were made out of negatives or transparencies whereas ‘modern’ prints are contemporary prints.
At Lenscloud, all prints are editioned.
A photographic print, as a collectable object, has distinctive materiality and objecthood. Artists may decide on which support they want to convey their art. The quality of the paper and printing technique used are part of their artistic expression and can significantly increase value. For instance, a 1970 platinum print featuring a wide range of tones by Irvin Penn sold for $529,000, and a vintage Dye-transfer print by William Eggleston recently fetched $578,500 at auction. Some photosensitive supports and papers are more fragile than others and may require special archival care whereas others are very stable and will last for 500 years. We nevertheless advice to always store prints with acid-free materials, to use acid-free mounts and to frame your photographs with UV-filtering glazing.
Black and white images are usually printed on gelatin silver or platinum prints although there are dozens of recorded techniques which were used during the second half of the 19th century such as albumen, bromide or salt prints to name a few. Color photography came gradually to light from the 1850s and the first modern colour film, the Kodakchrome, was introduced in the 1930s. The most common colour printing techniques are, from the most recent: Digital C-Print (also called Lambda or Lightjet prints), Giclée print (inkjet), Chromogenic print (C-type), Cibachrome (Dye-destruction or Ilfochrome), Polaroid and Dye-transfer print.
The structural, physical and chemical compounds of photographs are complex.
Photographs were invented over 150 years ago. Commonly, a photograph is a positive photographic image on paper. But a photograph refers to any light-sensitive media used to produce an image. The light-sensitive material can be silver, silver bromide, platinum, pigments or dyes. A binder is used to suspend the picture (except for platinum and salted paper prints). Binders are transparent constituents such as gelatin, egg-white (albumen) or collodion. The medium to which the image is transferred is usually photosensitive or fine art paper, but it can be other material such as canvas, aluminium, vinyl or even mirrors.
Techniques and material choices are numerous. For example, platinum or cyanotype prints are produced out of an emulsion that is directly applied to paper instead of being formed chemically.
Photographs can come in a range of finishes such as matt, semi-matt or glossy, and be mounted on supports such as Aluminum, Dibond or Reverse Perspex. Prints should be framed with conservation picture glazing with UV filters or protected by a coating layer.
All these elements require special handling and care.
Considerations in regards to scale are essential as it affects price and conservation. Large prints require more craft if printed by hand or with specific printing devices and some medium can only scale to a certain point. Size will also influence framing and storage.
Frequently assess the condition of your artworks and periodically update condition reports. Frame your photographs properly with UV protection glazing and acid-free mounts and use passe-partouts. Look for fading, moisture, cracks, brittle or possible colour (chemical) changes due to high temperature or humidity variations and keep your lighting levels in the 30-100 lux range. Avoid direct sunlight and don’t overexpose your photographs to artificial light. Use dehumidifiers and a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels. Be savvy with your housekeeping practices in particular with Perspex / Acrylic glazing as it is not scratch resistant and may need appropriate cleaning agents. Store your photographs flat in archival paper or archival sleeves. Rotate your art in and out of storage and periodically change artworks positions within your interior to other light levels and sources.