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How does the University acquire a new piece of art?

There are several different methods to acquire art. Watch Dr Maddie Boden explain some of these different types of acquisition.
The University, along with most other types of collectors, acquire art through a variety of means. Let’s explore some of the most common ways to buy a new piece of art. The easiest way to buy a piece of art
is from the person who made it: the artist. Often, this will be done through the artists gallery or dealer, who act as their representation in business matters. If the university does buy directly from the artist, as was the case for the Austin Wright sculptures, it is because they had an existing relationship and because of Wrights close connection with York. Artists can also choose to gift pieces or to loan them out for a period of time. Often the University will acquire a new piece
through a commission: paying an artist to make something for you. This is often the case when there is a particular site in mind for an artwork. This also benefits sculptors, whose labour and materials are often far more expensive than other types of artists, and who would otherwise struggle to finance a piece without a buyer in place. One of the most common ways to enter the art market is through auction houses. These are secondary markets where art is resold from previous owners onto new ones. It is more common to find the work of dead artists such as Moore and Hepworth in auction houses and often auction houses will put on specific sales just people interested in buying twentieth-century sculpture.
However, bidding is a competitive way of acquiring art and often prices for works will soar in the auction room. Its important to note that the University is a private buyer and therefore it can allocate as many or as few funds towards buying art as it deems appropriate. Other institutions such as museums have much stricter rules on how they can acquire art and we will explore these acquisition policies in the next article.

How does the University go about adding to its art collection? Or, for that matter, how does anyone take their first step into the art world and buy a piece of art?

Buying, or acquiring, art is a business transaction just like any other. However, individuals or institutions have different options for accessing the art market, which can depend on a number of factors include wealth, status, and social connections.

In this video, we explore the most common ways to acquire art.

  • Directly from the artist

  • Art dealers and galleries

  • Commissions

  • Auction Houses

  • Bequests, inheritance and donations.

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Modern Sculpture: An Introduction to Art History

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