What Art Should I Buy? | The Pros of New and Old Art

Should I buy New or Old Art? It depends on what kind of collector you are.

Two roads diverged in the woods, one was old art and the other new - which do you take? Both newbie and veteran collectors confront this quandary, assuming it best to stick to the path most traveled. While this route has rich value to offer, so does the path least taken. Whether your passion lies in the present, past or future of art, here is your map to the scenic views of old and new art.

Time to self reflect and take in the view. You're looking out at Brett Whiteley's Lavender Bay.

Buying Old

Established art is usually both ‘older’ and collectible without doubt. This is the road most traveled. Backed by a history of institutional and cultural reaffirmation, art made by icons like Brett Whiteley and Charles Blackman can be exchanged in the current marketplace with relative ease. 

To be clear, we don’t recommend buying merely to resell. Instead, to value the old is to value history, remembrance and renewal. Connecting time periods and cultures, old art can also allow regeneration as it passes between collectors. 



Buying New

To buy new art, is to thrust yourself into the art of our times. It offers the opportunity to connect with a living artist, who may be available for commission or correspondence. Through investing in new art, you also become instrumental in creating value, just as patrons of the past have. 

As human rights lawyer and exclusive collector of the new Julian Burnside puts it, buying new isn’t about being a patron - it’s about being a champion of the arts. It also means taking the path less traveled. 



Fighting the good fight - support contemporary artists like Philippe Le Miere

The ‘Learned and the Learning’

An experienced art advisor once described collectors as ‘the learned and the learning’. The former kind are custodians of historically significant work that ignites the mind. They are learned collectors. 

Conversely, the latter relish the now, discovering new art and learning about the world as it unfurls. You can of course, take a little of both and like Sam Leach, marry the future and history of art. 

Sam Leach 'Untitled (Dyptich)'


To find their feet, many collectors start by focusing on actively traded (or established) art. Once they feel settled however, they may dive deeper into the old, embrace the new or do as David Walsh did, and fill a Museum of Old and New Art. 

In the meantime, bear our advice in mind - lead with love, and be open to the different kinds of value offered by old and new art. That way, your collection will continue to burn steady and bright no matter what path you pursue. Just remember, it's the journey that counts.