Art is defined as “a visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination”, but it’s so much more. It’s a vehicle for storytelling, captures moments in time, creates conversation, can affect our mood, and is also something that can make for an extremely strategic and successful investment. While typically, we use art to adorn our walls, in recent years, there’s been a shift to viewing art as part of a robust investment strategy. And if the thought of a frivolous artwork piece being a valid investment seems hard to believe, look to the US $450.3 million-dollar sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in 2017 and the estimated value of Mona Lisa, which sits around US $970 million! And while a da Vinci piece isn’t within reach for most of us, here, we look at why art makes a great investment, scope out the best galleries to visit for inspiration and give you some ideas on where you can snap up artwork to add to (or start) your collection.
Why art makes a great investment
Other than the instant joy you’ll feel hanging an artwork you love in a prominent position in your home, art trumps different types of investments not only with its tangible nature but also with its potential for appreciation and ability to add diversity to an investment portfolio. Here’s more on the top 3 reasons art makes an excellent investment:
- Portfolio Diversification
Diversifying your investment portfolio across different class assets is a good way to reduce your risk of loss. In layperson’s terms, it’s about not having all your eggs in one basket. For example, if one asset class takes a blow from economic issues, you won’t lose everything if you have a diverse investment portfolio. This rang true during the global pandemic – contemporary art values were relatively unaffected while other industries crashed.
- Potential for Appreciation
One of the most attractive benefits of investing in art is its potential to appreciate over time, but it’s important to note that this is typically a longer-term investment. Key contributors to a piece of art’s value are the artist’s reputation and style trends, which can be relatively unknown and unpredictable at the time of investing.
- Tangible Asset
Art is a tangible investment and something that is made to be seen, displayed, and enjoyed by all. It can also be passed down as an heirloom (favouring its appreciation over time), and, given that the Australian Government classifies it as an asset – both depreciating and as an investment – it may be tax deductible.
As a tangible asset, it’s essential to remember that it can’t be cashed in instantly. Finding the right buyer takes time, and the selling process can be extensive.
Where to pick up a portfolio addition-worthy artwork
With the maximalism design style currently trending, aligning artworks like statement pieces are currently the hottest ticket in town. But it’s not always about jumping on the latest trend; we recommend heading out to some of Australia’s best art galleries for inspiration and then choosing a piece to take home that instantly resonates and draws you in. Here’s where to seek out some of the finest:
1. Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria
Melbourne is renowned for its world-class art scene; you’ll find the streets and laneways lined with art, countless galleries, underground studios, and gritty art spaces – it’s little wonder it’s often referred to as Australia’s cultural capital. While the streets alone will leave you inspired, our favourite gallery is located outside of Melbourne metro it’s the highly regarded Art Gallery of Ballarat. It’s not only Australia’s oldest regional gallery but is home to one of the most extensive collections of Australian artworks, with over 11,500 artworks to peruse.
- Where to shop: Enjoy a dose of retail art therapy at Flinders Lane Gallery or Gallerysmith featuring diverse contemporary exhibitions. Remember, Independent galleries offer more than what’s displayed, so chat with them about your preferences to uncover hidden gems!
- Alternatively, soak up over 50 galleries exhibiting their finest under one roof from the 31st of August through to the 3rd of September at the Affordable Art Fair.
2. White Rabbit Gallery, New South Wales
First opening its doors in 2009, this ex-Rolls Royce service depot remains true to its world-class roots but has been transformed by founder (and billionaire) Judith Neilson into a self-funded gallery featuring one of the world’s largest and most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art. With such a vast collection, only a fraction can be displayed at any one time, meaning the gallery holds two new exhibitions a year, each involving a full rehang – and adding another excuse to plan multiple visits! White Rabbit Gallery is free to visit and open Wednesday-Sunday.
- Where to shop: If you’re looking to add to (or start) your collection Project Gallery 90 is a must-visit! It supports emerging local and international artists and offers a “try before you buy” option through their Smart Arts offering – after a small down payment, you can live with the artwork for seven days before deciding if you want to hold on to it or return it.
- Make sure you mark Sydney’s The Other Art Fair on your calendar, too – an opportunity to take in original yet affordable works from 130 independent artists. Running from the 12th to the 15th of October at The Cutaway in Barangaroo.
3. Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Tasmania
A Tasmanian icon and attraction in its own right, the Museum of Old and New Art is described by owner David Walsh as a “subversive adult Disneyland”. You won’t find white walls and stuffy art collections here; it’s a space to be experienced, with two restaurants, several bars, and twice-yearly festivals. Over a 3.5-hectare site, MONA houses David Walsh’s $110m private (controversial, unique and provocative) collection of art and antiquities, as well as a filled-to-the-brim exhibitions schedule.
- Where to shop: The Salamanca Arts Centre is a treasure trove of all things art – from studios to galleries to venues and retail outlets; wander the alcoves and discover emerging local artists and special exhibitions, or pop to the courtyard for contemporary sculptures and installations.
4. Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Queensland
Nestled in the heart of Brisbane’s arts and culture precinct, South Bank, QAGOMA combines two very different galleries united to share exceptional art. Holding over 19,000 pieces of art from across the globe and hosting regular exhibitions that feature contemporary Australian and international art, the spaces are designed to inspire with ever-changing exhibitions, programs and events. It’s also home to a Children’s Art Centre, aimed at developing the next generation of art lovers through interactive experiences, performances and exhibitions.
- Where to shop: Ready to bring an artwork home? Head to Artisan in Bowen Hills to pick up one-of-a-kind, handmade objet d’art – you’ll find an evolving selection of bespoke jewellery, beautiful glass pieces, unique sculptures and wall-ready prints.
5. The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA), Adelaide
Attracting almost one million visitors every year and home to a collection of over 45,000 artworks from Australia, Europe, North America, and Asia, AGSA is today the home of one of Australia’s most significant art collections. Hosting a fine pedigree of exhibitions from Andy Warhol through to Auguste Rodin and Christopher Orchard – and currently exhibiting the iconic works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera – be sure to check the events calendar and plan your visit.
- Where to shop: Stop by Gagprojects (previously known as Greenaway Art Gallery) to pick up a piece from the very best local talent. Director Paul Greenway represents around 30 artists and is passionate about connecting promising contemporary artists with institutions and private collectors (at every level).
6. National Gallery of Australia (NGA), Australian Capital Territory
Sitting on the southern shore of Lake Burley Griffin in the nation’s capital, the National Gallery of Australia houses Australia’s most valuable collection of art (with over 155,000 works), including the world’s most extensive collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Within the NGA’s vast collection, you’ll also find some of the finest examples of French Impressionism, Dada, Surrealism, Russian avant-garde, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism and Conceptual Art. And when you need a breath of fresh air, head out to the surreal sculpture garden featuring 26 installations from Australian and international artists.
- Where to shop: Unleash your art aficionado and adorn your home with a piece from Beaver Galleries. It’s Canberra’s largest private gallery, featuring contemporary Australian artists in three spacious galleries and a print room with limited edition art prints
7. Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Northern Territory
Located in Darwin, on Larrakia land, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) is much more than an art gallery – it’s a major cultural institution. Founded in 1981 and globally renowned for its culturally significant collections and exhibitions. The space also hosts the annual Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA), which celebrates established and emerging artists.
- Where to shop: At Mimi Aboriginal Art and Crafts, the artistic brilliance of the Katherine region’s indigenous artists takes centre stage. Established in 1978, 100% Aboriginal-owned and not-for-profit, the art centre displays a diverse collection of painting styles that reflect the dynamic landscape of Katherine.
8. Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand
Founded in 1888, history, heritage, contemporary artworks, and globally recognised architecture come together in New Zealand’s most well-known gallery, Toi o Tāmaki. With over 16,000 pieces spanning from the 11th century to today, there are a host of permanent collections and exhibitions from major international galleries. Currently on display (through to the 29th of October) is Ever Present: First Peoples Art of Australia – featuring over 150 works from 1890 to today, making it the most significant overview of art by First Peoples to be presented in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
- Where to shop: Located on Auckland’s vibrant Karangahape Road, you’ll find Melanie Roger Gallery. A space that works with and represents some of New Zealand’s most exciting artists – both newcomers and more established, across all mediums. With a monthly rotating schedule of exhibits, the gallery also holds a comprehensive stockroom that can be browsed online or in person.
Experience, browse and purchase art from the comfort of your own home
With the evolution of technology and virtual reality, experiencing, browsing, and shopping for art is now entirely possible from your armchair. Galleries like White Rabbit Gallery, the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Gallery of Victoria and many more host virtual exhibitions and tours, while shopping for collection-worthy pieces is easy through sites like ArtLovers Australia (provider of all that beautiful art that adorns the walls on shows like The Block and Selling Houses Australia) and global retailer SaatchiArt.
Support local artists, invest, and enjoy!
Whether you’re looking at art as an addition to an investment portfolio or simply something to liven up your home, purchasing art supports local creators in doing what they love, inspires conversation and, overall, brings a sense of joy to many. If you’re looking for fresh new walls to adorn, call your local First National Real Estate office – we’ll help you find the perfect blank canvas to decorate your way.