Should I Invest in Fine Art or Decorative Art?

It is quite common in the art world to hear art enthusiasts ask artists whether their work is fine art or decorative art. Historians, however, will tell you there is a fine artistic line between beauty and function because beautiful art can also be functional and functional art can also be beautiful. If you are asking, “Should I invest in fine art or decorative art,” here is what is vital to know.

Fine Art vs Decorative Art

There are subtle differences between fine art and decorative art, which is why there is often hesitation in choosing which to buy, collect, or invest. Fine art is often cited as being paintings, drawings, graphics, watercolors, architecture, and sculptures. Decorative art is cited as being aesthetically pleasing furniture, textiles, glassware, jewelry, metalware, ceramics, and basketry.

Art, regardless of fine art or decorative art distinctions, is subjective to each viewer’s opinion. The view of what is fine or decorative also is debated as being culturally and artistically different, so it is important to look at how artists and consumers have traditionally defined them. It can also be helpful to look at how fine and decorative art is used conceptually to convey ideas.

While many experts believe that fine art is functional while beauty is the function of decorative art, the commercialism of the art world has blurred these lines considerably for consumers. Here are a few things to think about when determining whether art is fine art or decorative in nature.

  • Artisan vs. Industrial

Fine art is usually man-made and unique in nature as it cannot or will not be reproduced. There usually tends to be only one original of its kind, which is one of the reasons why it makes it more valuable. Decorative art that is artisan-made can fetch millions of dollars.

  • Fine Art: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa- Priceless (at Louvre Museum in Paris)

(Was Insured in 1962 at $100,000,000 and Equal to $700,000,000 today)

  • Decorative Art: Pinner Qing Dynasty Vase-£53,000,000 ($69,147,245 USD)

Industrially made decorative art detracts from its value because many units are created at one time. The market is also saturated with multiple copies, so its value depends solely on market availability and consumer interest.

  • Materials Used

A major factor that many art experts consider about whether art is fine or decorative is material usage. Quality-made materials often equate to investment value longevity. A painting that was made by a skilled painter who used high-quality paint and pigments may be considered fine art whereas a painting made by an average painter may not meet the criteria for fine art yet still can be considered decorative as that is its only purpose.

An artist chooses his or her materials based on the purpose of creating a piece of art. If an artist is creating a piece for a museum or a gallery, he or she would likely choose upscale materials. If an artist is creating something decorative for an office, a home, or a store, material usage would equate to what the client wanted to pay for their decorative artwork.

  • Fine art may also create a story that appeals to its viewers while decorative art will often create a focal point within a larger décor aesthetic. Each brushstroke, color palette, and visual speaks to fine art collectors in ways that generate emotional responses. Decorative art usually evokes satisfaction or appreciation for beauty rather than a lasting impression.

Now that we have told you a bit about fine art and decorative art, we highly advise you to think about the reason you want to buy them. Are you an art collector who wants to diversify your collection with decorative pieces? Are you a decorator who wants high-quality pieces for clients? The more you understand yourself and your wants, the better off you will be selecting art types.

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