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.”