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With thousands of galleries in the U.S. alone, over 270 art fairs taking place yearly around the globe, new artistic talent emerging in the art market, and the work of the top coveted artists difficult to access, how do you start in your quest to collect? One reliable option: get a knowledgeable art advisor to help. Here is a quick guide to the role of the art advisor.

What is an art advisor?

First and foremost, an art advisor is a connoisseur—well versed in the world of art, both past and present, possessing the necessary skills to evaluate a work, attribute its authorship, determine its authenticity, and give a judgment of its quality. An art advisor usually has a professional background that includes work in a gallery or a museum, or a previous position in art management. But whatever the path, the right art advisor is a knowledgeable expert who has had the time to develop a good eye for good art.

Why hire an art advisor?

The short answer: to help you navigate the complex maze that is the art world in contemporary times. But the actual reasons for why someone would seek an art advisor can vary. You may be new to the sphere of art collecting and don’t know where or how to begin. You may be intimidated—as many of us are, even if we won’t admit it—by the top galleries and auction houses, and need a guiding hand to open the door. You may be sure of your interest in collecting, but can’t quite articulate your taste and goals. You don’t have the time to do the lengthy legwork that comes with the process of collecting, from researching galleries to visit to booking appointments with those galleries. Additionally, the art market is notoriously a relationship-based industry. So even if you know which work you want, it is an art advisor with the right connections who can often get you the access needed to secure it.

Why an art advisor vs. an art dealer?

Both have the expertise needed to create a formidable collection of art. The key distinction is that each represents (and gets compensated by) a different side. An art dealer’s responsibility is to the artists they represent and the inventory of work in their possession; their fee is derived from the sale of this work. An art advisor, on the other hand, is beholden solely to the paying client and is therefore well positioned to be a neutral guide in the process of acquiring a single work of art or building an entire collection.

Written by Alina Girshovich

Become your own art advisor. Explore online and summer courses, including Building a Collection and The Value of Art.

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