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Collecting Black art has never been more important

Art collecting has long been a luxury for those who can afford to partake in leisure. In most cases, this is the economic advantage of societal white privilege. However, Black people collecting Black art is more common today than it ever has been.

Charles Moore’s brief history of Black artists in America contributes to our interest and insight into art collecting with The Black Market: A Guide to Art Collecting.

Previously, Moore published various works on contemporary arts for notable publications like Artnet, Artsy, and Cultured Magazine, to name a few. 

The Black Market: A guide to Art Collecting by Charles Moore. PHOTO CRED: Kevin Claiborne
The Black Market: A guide to Art Collecting by Charles Moore. PHOTO CRED: Kevin Claiborne

The value of Black art

For one, daily living factors like shelter, water, vitamins, and nutrients, are far from the thought of art. But in society, it is the expression of culture and the ethos of an era.

These factors make art such a valuable part of life and some of the few things to appreciate over time, regardless of the economy

Often, the art market is immune to the typical volatility of the economic markets in which its clients usually have large stakes. This kind of economy usually affects minority groups mostly, especially Black people.

Author, curator, and overall Black art enthusiast Charles Moore has made it his life’s work to remedy the perceptions of elitism in art collecting.

Charles Moore’s contributions to Black artists

Moore has rigorously taught the value of Black artists throughout his career. Straddling along the lines of what artwork sells and the many artists we can grow to love.

The Harvard University graduate feels that the undervalued Black art market deserves a reappraisal. Black artists and their works are neglected to a full extent by the leaders of industry throughout history.

The Black Market presents a brief art history about Black artists born between 1900 to 1990. That information complements recommendations for literature on Black culture and Black artists. 

There are remarks on younger Millennial artists like Tschabalala Self, whose works can go for six figures or more. Renee Cox, Norman Lewis, and even Derrick Adams are categorized.

Collecting art on the Black art market

Moore helps readers decipher these artists’ intrinsic value to Black art and Black culture from a cultivated perspective. He insists this is just a preliminary experience for readers of all education levels and knowledge of the art world.

Charles Moore, Harvard Club. PHOTO CRED: Kevin Claiborne
Charles Moore, Harvard Club. PHOTO CRED: Kevin Claiborne

“Black artists have historically been undervalued because the system that placed value on art didn’t allow them to participate in the reasons the market placed higher values on work. That is, the artists were not accepted into the academic institutions that provided training and criticism that cultivated their talent.” 

Charles Moore

His sentiment goes beyond traditional auction houses and galleries where art can be wagered on our dollar(s).

“The museums and other institutions didn’t place validation by placing their work in the halls [of the] gatekeepers of the arts. And collectors didn’t collect their work, therefore placing market value and demand in primary, secondary, and auctions.” 

Charles Moore

Building collections out of Black art

As we see more depictions of Black people in commercial settings, there has still been a trope of discernment in favor of white artists. Moore, as well as other curators, like Everette Taylor, CMO of Artsy, has been building collections and identifying rising talent for mainstream audiences. 

With that, Moore also delves into the consumption of fine art by Black artists into collections of white collectors and institutions founded by the hegemony.

“Right now, Black artists are having a moment! But the art that is going for thousands of dollars, that is predominantly figurative work, highlighting the Black body, is collected by white collectors. This is not to say that they shouldn’t have the opportunity to own these works. They should. And so should the prestigious institutions that historically shut out the Black artists.”

Charles Moore

Moore describes the ability to see art beyond its artistic value but rather, its economic value. He knows the struggles of deciding where to put your money when you have a limited amount of it. Moore teaches readers to recognize the intrinsic value of the art and the artist combined.

Charles Moore, Harvard Club. PHOTO CRED: Kevin Claiborne
Charles Moore, Harvard Club. PHOTO CRED: Kevin Claiborne

Giving back to Black culture

“The art world loves to tell you ‘buy what you love’ and worry about what financial value that brings. That is right and wrong. You should always buy what you love. Additionally, you should understand the power and social capital that comes along with ownership.”

Charles Moore

Moore’s acknowledgment of social capital speaks volumes of the importance of ownership of culture, Black culture. 

“I bought my first piece of art for $50, at the ICA Boston museum in 2012. I continued to buy limited edition prints that cost me under $250 for the next year. As I learned more about collecting, I changed my taste in the art I collected.

But if I wanted to continue to buy works of art, under $1,000, there is plenty of it out there. And one could find a classically trained painter or photographer or sculptor early along in their career and find works of art in their respective budgets.”

Charles Moore

The Black Market highlights museums and their exhibitions, galleries, art shows, and auctions. Moore’s interviews highlight a range of collectors, from an artist who collects Black art, to a reputable art school that reveals their secrets on collecting art. 

The book also features a collection of essays by the Black art enthusiast, describing his interactions with fellow art collectors. Whether that is with collectors who started a year ago, or collectors with years of experience, there is perspective to be learned. 

“Before you begin collecting art, I recommend collecting books–about art, and learn to develop your taste. I think The Black Market would be a good addition to your reading, and I’ve done my best to give some valuable guidance.”

Charles Moore

Look out for this article on PAGE magazine.