What’s an A/P? How important is provenance? What is flipping? The art market has a language of its own. Even if you’re already an art lover, as a new collector it’s easy to get confused. Are you on the way to finding your perfect piece of art? Here are 8 terms you need to know.
1. Primary Art Market
This is when an artwork is sold (and the price established) for the first time. Art on the primary market often comes directly from an artist’s studio.
2. Secondary Art Market
This is the world of re-selling artworks, through galleries, dealers or at auction. The secondary market usually occurs when an artist is established and sought after.
3. Blue Chip
Within the art world, ‘blue chip’ refers to artworks which are expected to hold or increase in economic value regardless of other market conditions. Artists like Picasso, Rothko and Monet are Blue Chip.
4. Artist's Proof
Artist’s proofs are signed ‘A/P’ and are considered a status symbol in the world of art collecting. They come about when an artist is creating a series of prints and receives proofs to check quality and colour. If the artist decides to sell them, they will come at a premium price, due to their limited number.
Art ‘flippers’ buy and sell art to turn a profit. Most flipping is done by art collectors as a way of making money to reinvest and expand their art collection.
An artwork’s provenance is the record of its history, ownership and origin. Provenance is essential in confirming its authenticity. Ideally it will trace the object right back to the artist’s studio, and might include ownership documents, gallery invoices, inventory numbers and inclusion in catalogues.
7. Private collection
This is a privately-owned collection of artworks, usually by an individual art collector. However, it could also refer to the collection of a company or other organisation, such as a bank.
An appraisal is the evaluation of a work’s market or insurance value. Appraisals can be offered by galleries, experts and auction houses.
Ruth Millington is an arts and culture blogger, freelance writer and art historian.