It’s a good question! In fact, it’s an ongoing topic of discourse, and one that those in the art world keep coming back to again and again. The shortest answer is that what makes good art is, of course, different for everyone. But it is possible to dig deeper than that.

 Pablo Picasso,  Venus et l’Amour Voleur de Miel , 1957 

Pablo Picasso, Venus et l’Amour Voleur de Miel, 1957 


Highly personal

It’s a very polemical question that can provoke strong debate, even causing deep upset because it can be so personal; one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

You might think that price could provide a good indication of inherent merit, but agents, galleries and museums have a vested interest in keeping prices high, leading to a consensus in the market and rules as to what is worth most that may not be in line with the intrinsic value of a piece.

Identifying bad art

An easier question to answer than ‘What makes good art?’ is perhaps ‘What is bad art?’. Again, the answer will always be subjective, but thoughtless, lazy art, that is derivative of something else, seldom justifies the accolade of good art.

But there are always exceptions. Jeff Koons’ work is generally derivative of other things and is very kitsch - but he has spent a long time thinking about it.

Expert guidance

With so much down to personal taste, where does that leave the amateur collector? Most obviously it can leave them in need of a friendly expert to steer them through the complexities of the choices available to them.

A lot of people coming into Dellasposa say: “I don’t know what I like.” Many see art advisors as arbiters of taste. While we are delighted to assist you in building your collection, it remains a very personal matter, so it’s worth investing the time to develop your own aesthetics.

Maximum exposure

The easiest way to understand what you think is good art is to train your eye. The more you see in different exhibitions and galleries, the more you will understand. Compare different artists and pieces, building a jigsaw of emotional reactions, until you begin to identify which pieces join those dots for you. Looking at art is the best way to cultivate your own interests.

But don’t feel that you have to be constrained to one artist or style. We live in a postmodern world, which affords you the enjoyment of having great diversity in your collection.

Ignore the price tag

As you develop your own aesthetic, it’s important to learn to trust your instincts and not just follow the herd. Sometimes that means you have to take money out of the equation; some things can be undervalued and some things overvalued – sometimes the most beautiful things are completely overlooked.

It’s also essential to understand your objectives and to communicate this to your art advisor. If you are buying for investment that provides a very different motivation and rationale for buying than simply wanting to fall in love with a piece of art.

To discuss starting or building your collection call Dellasposa on 020 3286 1017.