Collecting Art for Love, Money and More

An insider’s guide to collecting art for both the novice and experienced buyer

Ethan Wagner and Thea Westreich Wagner


Price: USD$35.00

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About the book
Arranged into ten topics that are approached through a key question and answer format, art advisors Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner offer an accessible yet unrivalled insider’s view into the often opaque world of collecting art, drawing from their extensive experience in working with collectors and institutions of contemporary art.

Collecting Art for Love, Money and More looks at why collecting art is a completely unique experience that offers emotional, intellectual and social rewards. The authors argue that the motivations for acquiring a work of art and building a collection, unlike buying anything else, may be any combination of investment potential, aesthetics, love of art, challenge, intellectual exploration, social status, adrenaline rush, ego-building or public attention.

The chapter-opening questions are informal and direct: questions we would all like to ask about collecting contemporary art but are afraid to ask. The authors are informative yet chatty and provide specific examples from their experience. Each question is illustrated with a series of photos/extended captions: these expand on the text and offer advice, personal insights and behind-the-scenes access to the various facets of the commercial art world, including exhibitions, art storage, biennials, art fairs, collectors, and interpretations of individual works of art.

As both influential participants in and observers of this world, the authors also bring the historical and social context of the dynamic complexities of the art world today to their narrative. Why people collect art, what rewards it might offer, how one goes about it, what the relationship is between the commercial and the public art world is, and who can take part in it are amongst the vital questions they address.

In The Press

"A must read for anyone that is just starting their collecting journey!"—BMW Art Guide by Independent Collector's blog, 'Collector's Corner'

"Impressive... captur[es] the thrill of collecting."—Aesthetica

"Embraces the thrills, ups, downs and of course, advantageous aspects of collecting art... Thea and Ethan Wagner are your authors and amidst entertaining anecdotes and experiences they've had as huge art collectors for three decades, they explain how to navigate the art market and access the world of galleries, auction houses, art fairs and biennales... Definitely worth getting a copy... A great read for those interested in art in all forms."—

"Comprehensive... Rich with anecdotes... A more diverting read than might be expected of a vade mecum to the art market... Written in a conversational tone that suggests the authors are experienced in putting others at their ease... The authors are to be applauded for their efforts to demystify the process... Reassuring to any readers making their first steps towards buying art."— The Art Newspaper, Frieze New York Daily Edition

"New York-based art advisers Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner have made a career out of cutting through the hype... They've penned a comprehensive new book that looks at every facet of collecting from the adrenaline rush of discovery to the challenges of figuring out [what] will still be valuable in 2025."—The Wall Street Journal

" A how-to book... from two of the sharpest eyes in contemporary art... It would be hard to imagine two better-qualified guides for these choppy, sometimes disgusting, often ecstatic waters."—Jerry Saltz for New York Magazine

"On one hand, a lively and accessible history of art collecting... On the other, it's something of a best practices guide for budding collectors."—Art in America

"Wife-and-husband art advisers... offer an insider-y view of high-stakes art collecting and what motivates great collectors. Informal and chatty writing adds appeal."—Traditional Home

"Provides intelligent, useful insight for art lovers, artists, and anyone curious about contemporary art and the art market... Through provocative, compelling photographs of contemporary art, art spaces, curators, and collectors, and descriptions of international art fairs, intimate gatherings with artists and curators and various ways to approach collecting... This smartly designed book gives readers a taste of the competition, passion, pitfalls, and glamour of the art world as experienced through a collector's unique viewpoint."—Publishers Weekly

About the author(s)
Ethan Wagner’s art interests go back more than two decades; he has collected art, published artists’ books, and been involved with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and other art organizations. He now manages Art Advisory’s business and financial practices and external communications, canvasses the international art market on behalf of clients.

Thea Westreich Wagner worked for numerous years as a volunteer in the visual and performing arts. She founded Thea Westreich Art Advisory Services in 1982, and has advised private collectors throughout the United States and Europe. She has built a library of 13,000 volumes that underlies her firm’s dedication to research and analysis. She also publishes artists’ books.

Art as Therapy
Biennials and Beyond
Defining Contemporary Art
Not Afraid


Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City. Read more
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