Col­lect­ing art: where to start?

Gary Langs­ford of Gow Langs­ford Gallery tells some great art ap­pre­ci­a­tion sto­ries. Like the piece pur­chased in the mid-1990s for $130,000 that sold at the end of 2014 for 2.4 mil­lion; the Mcca­hon orig­i­nally bought for $25,000 that sold not long ago for 3.


Th­ese days, art is an in­vest­ment that’s po­ten­tially even more prof­itable than Auck­land prop­erty – es­pe­cially be­cause we still don’t have to pay tax on cap­i­tal gains. How­ever it’s one in­vest­ment that de­mands you use your heart as well as your head. “I al­ways em­pha­sise you should only buy what you like. Never buy a paint­ing to put it in a vault. You need to hang it on your wall, be­cause there are so many other aspects to it than just money. As well as be­ing an in­vest­ment, art is a cul­tural en­joy­ment that trans­forms your liv­ing en­vi­ron­ment”, says Gary. Since he es­tab­lished the Gow Langs­ford Gallery around three decades ago – be­gin­ning with a sta­ble that in­cluded (and still in­cludes) Dick Frizzell, Judy Mil­lar and Karl Maughan – Gary has watched New Zealand’s art col­lec­tors evolve. “In the 1980s, peo­ple bought art be­cause they liked it, wanted to sup­port the artists and also wanted to help the fledg­ling dealer gallery sys­tem. To­day there’s much more in­ter­est in buy­ing art for its po­ten­tial cap­i­tal gain, as well as its aes­thetic value. Buy­ing good art is sim­i­lar to buy­ing a nice Fer­rari, say a 250 GTO. You get joy out of it, plus it’s grow­ing in value.” Gow Langs­ford Gallery only oc­ca­sion­ally adds to its sta­ble. While bud­ding artists rou­tinely ar­rive unan­nounced and start un­load­ing their works faster than Gary can say “hang on a minute…”, you have to meet a num­ber of strict cri­te­ria be­fore be­ing con­sid­ered for rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the gallery. “Our choice of artists is not about style. We show very ab­stract to very rep­re­sen­ta­tional works. For us it’s about the qual­ity within those cat­e­gories. John Gow and I have dif­fer­ent spe­cial­i­ties, which helps the gallery. John looks af­ter works that are more fig­u­ra­tive. He has a strong in­ter­est in Maori and Poly­ne­sian artists, such as John Pule and John Walsh. I’m more in­ter­ested in ab­stract work, bring­ing in artists such as Katha­rina Grosse, Judy Mil­lar and Si­mon In­gram.”

Colin Mcca­hon,

Reuben Pater­son, Are You My Dad’s Boyfriend?, 2015 Tony Cragg, Chain of Events, 2007.


He­lensville, Se­ries A, no. 1-4, 1968

Left: Max Gim­blett, Leda and the Swan - In Memo­riam - for Cy Twombly,

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