We've all heard the old joke, "Artists never get rich until they die." Of course for dead artists, it's no joke. It's no secret that many art investors, in opening their morning paper, turn first to the obituary page to check whether the value of their "stocks" have gone up. And it's also no secret that many of these "art connoisseurs" rely far more on the word of their galley-owning art advisors than on their own aesthetic instincts (if, indeed, they have any). And those are the brave souls who collect LIVING artists. The more conservative investors prefer the long-dead "blue chips" such as Picasso, Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh, or Norman Rockwell (for those politically conservative as well).

Perhaps someone should make up a great big button that reads, "Support Your Friendly, Neighborhood LIVING Artist!" Someone has even suggested a class in how to buy "living art." I agree wholeheartedly with the idea, but what we're really talking about here is two distinct classes of art buyers. That is, on the one hand, those who purchases living artists because they are less expensive, they like the contemporary qualities displayed, they like the subject matter, and it matches the couch. On the other hand, there are those for whom money is no object in their art purchases, they like to "gamble" on the eventual collectibility of an artist they like, they "know" art (or think they do), they "buy the artist" (and his persona), and are "in tune" with the image. Notice the distinctively different qualities and motivations.

I'm not sure which level one would want to teach, perhaps BOTH, but in any case the effort would involve considerable analytical skills on a very broad, esoteric plane of art appreciation. Teaching (and learning) about contemporary art is probably the most difficult era of art history, because in a very real sense, it's art current events, not art history. And by "current events," we mean anything within the last twenty years! This type of art is in a constant state of flux. That means opinions regarding it haven't "gelled" yet. And like investors in the stock market, these buyers of "living artists" (as a group) have a great deal to do with how these artists will be seen by art historians (maybe more than the art historians). But, I guess they teach classes in all other kinds of investing, why not "Art Appreciation for the Investor?"