This Boston Art Collector Leaves No Stone (Or Canvas) Unturned
Her deep dive includes examining every work, both available and sold, that she can find online.
When it comes to making a significant art purchase, the owner of this Boston condo leaves no stone—or canvas—unturned. “I love to learn about an artist’s childhood, education, and passions,” she says. Her deep dive includes examining every work, both available and sold, that she can find online. But that zeal has cost her: After falling in love with two Bruno Zupan paintings she’d spotted on a postcard from Galerie d’Orsay, the homeowner discovered the pair had sold instantly. “I learned that you can’t always sit and think for a few weeks,” she says ruefully.
She’s also learned that virtual pursuits can only get you so far. For instance, after spending countless hours looking at neo-expressionist artist Hunt Slonem’s paintings of bunnies, many of which are at galleries in Texas, she sought out art consultant Julie Mussafer of Jules Place and found a local source: DTR Modern on Newbury Street. Turns out, “They have bunnies galore,” says the homeowner. So the pair happily spent an afternoon at the gallery, mixing and matching rabbits in a variety of shades—pink, purple, and blue among them—with antique frames to determine which combinations would look best. (She ended up with more than a dozen, in assorted colors.)
And on occasion, her research unearths additional treasures. While perusing a Texas gallery’s Slonem collection online, the homeowner became intrigued by the mixed-media paintings of German artist Claudia Limacher, whom the gallery also represents. When she showed her husband six options, “The one he chose was also my favorite,” she says with a smile. The abstract is now the centerpiece of the couple’s family room.
Start With Art
Susan Lanoue, co-owner of SoWa’s Lanoue Gallery, shares advice—cultivated from her decades of experience—on how to start your own art collection.
By Rachel Kashdan
Get in touch with your tastes.
The first item that should be on every new collector’s agenda: homing in on what styles of art and mediums you’re drawn to. “Go to galleries, attend art sales in your area, look at home design magazines, and see what excites you,” Lanoue says.
Build relationships with local gallerists.
Not only will you feel more confident knowing you’ve got a trusted source for quality pieces, but you’ll also benefit from greater access to works beyond the gallery floor. For example, if you’ve expressed an interest in a particular artist and have a longstanding relationship with the gallery, you’ll be the first person they call when “the next awesome piece comes in,” Lanoue explains.
Don’t try to haggle.
While you might have read or heard that gallerists and artists at open studios or fairs expect buyers to try to negotiate down prices, Lanoue says that’s often not the case—particularly for an emerging or mid-career artist. “That is not a given in the industry, and it can be somewhat insulting,” she says.
Harness the power of Instagram.
The app is one of the best ways to discover up-and-coming and under-the-radar artists from all over the world. “Instagram is the great equalizer [in the art world]. Instead of just sending a monthly e-blast, galleries, artists, and auction houses are posting things that are interesting and exciting every single day,” Lanoue explains. “It’s sort of like having your own little art adviser in your back pocket.”