Why buy a bronze?
First of all I don’t recomemd anyone buy a bronze just because someone told you to buy a bronze. In my opinion you buy a piece of art because it sparks a memory, emotion or something that you can relate to. Remember you have to live with this and look at it every day. Wouldn’t it make sense to want to look at it! There is however another side to collecting bronzes. And that is the fact that it is an investment.
Art as an investment.
What should I look for in a bronze?
There are a million answers to this one. If we are speaking from a collecting point of view, then I am going to rule out the emotional part of things.
First find an artist with a style you like. It is going to be harder to enjoy a collection and then try to see it as an investment if you don’t like it in the first place. This way if you are looking for a market for resale you can talk about the piece and “sell” it from a positive point of view.
Look for the reputation of the artist.
Bottom line that is what will help hold the resale value of the piece down the road. Do your homework and you won’t regret it.
Look for quality of casting.
If you don’t know how to look get someone that does. You should never be able to see the weld marks or sloppy wax chasing in a finished piece.
A poor patina will change over time and eventually alter the look of the piece.
Check out the edition sizes and the numbering system the artist uses.
How many in the edition, is there a second edition, are there more artist copies than their should be? These varies in the industry so find an artist with the answers to these questions that makes you feel comfortable.
Where does the artist sell his/her work?
If an artist is in a lot of galleries and does a lot of shows? Neither answer is always right or wrong. Some artists don’t use galleries (me for example), for various reasons. Basically what you want to make sure here is that the artist is selling whether it be from home or shows or internet or whatever. To do this ask about sold out editions. That is a good sign of a career artist. With bronzes once one edition sells out the artist will often replace it with a similar subject matter, or he/she may have moved on to a completely different subject so that type of piece will not be available. Either way find out where the artists work is heading. Again neither situation is wrong or right it just is worth knowing.
Basically a regular presence in the public eye is what you are after.
Is there a secondary market for the piece?
Many artists works have increased in value after their death.
I’d like to think that can happen before that! As an example I will always offer to show and resell any piece that I have done. I can either show it in my own shop or take it to shows with me. Alternatively there is a lot of work that is sold on the secondary market if you know where to look. Once an edition sells out I have seen mine triple in value and resell very fast. This is evident in the print market for flatwork artists.
Talk to other purchasers.
Other collectors bought from this artist for a reason so talk to them. Ask the artist to supply you with names. If that is not possible ask galleries.
How to care for a bronze.
Here is where I can say more don’ts than anything. Don’t use cleaners, waxes, water, polishes etc.
Your bronze is sealed with a wax to protect the patina(color) and allow for some shine. Any cleaners you use will strip this wax and allow the atmosphere to eat away at the color. Use a nylon to polish it and a soft toothbrush to clean in the tight little crevices.
You can use a wood polish on the wood only. It does over time dry out and should be taken care of especially if you leave it in the sun.