How to shop art now

Kissing Couple silver brooch ©Modern Decorative

The moment we’re experiencing is quite rightly making us pause for thought, what should we be buying if we feel we can spend money right now? No matter what the pandemic has done for your personal budget for life’s decorative things, I think we all want our purchases to be more purposeful. Cue art and objects that add to our lives on the daily.

I recently discovered Modern Decorative, a unique online gallery that sells undiscovered art and antiques. With handy extra eyes from his father, Gary Jackson, who was in the antique business for years before becoming a painter, the founder Joe spots underrated and underpriced pieces for his thoughtful collection. Unlike my usual knack for eyeing the exact items that sit way outside of my price range, the silver kissing couple brooch above and 1970s etching below are both around the one hundred pounds mark. The etching is signed, but Joe and his father Gary take the philosophy that the best signature is the painting itself.

“Behind every painting, there’s a soul, a person who loves to paint, a life story that will influence the work no matter how abstract that influence is.”

Gary Jackson, Modern Decorative

Etching with Nude Figures and Abstract Design ©Modern Decorative

For me buying art is a distinctive way to identify a moment in time, like when I moved into the first home of my own and soon bought a piece of urban art that matched my first big salvage purchase, plus encapsulated my emotions during that period. Sometimes you’re looking for something for a particular space and other times the right piece just finds you.

When buying art and decorative pieces to dress your home, I think it’s important to only go for what you really really, let’s throw another really in there, love. It’s good to ask yourself how much do I love it? Sometimes you know instantly and at a market, it’s tempting and sometimes necessary to act on immediate impulse, but the benefit of shopping online gives you the chance to scroll, and see a piece in the place you intend for it to live. Just take a look at Modern Decorative’s Instagram if you have any doubt that a photograph can capture the mood and texture of a painting.

Detail by Gustavo Carbó Berthold ©Modern Decorative & Detail of Abstract above ©Modern Decorative

The secondary art market suits an increasing appetite amongst young, highly visual art appreciators that can discover and own originals at a good value. There is not currently much demand for 19th-century art, but it can look unexpectedly exquisite in a modern setting. If you want to reject the fashion for 20th-century modern pieces then something like this watercolour could put you ahead of style’s pendulum swing.

Detail of watercolour of woman ©Modern Decorative

I enjoyed virtually escaping through their feed of natural landscapes and one particular sunny still life with flowers, which is as close as I am getting to the Mediterranean for a while. Before the pandemic, Joe luckily expanded from London to a studio space in Barcelona, which in normal times gives him a perfect position to source works between Spain and France.

Detail of still life ©Modern Decorative

From a market stall in my hood on Portobello Road, Gary and his twin brother Paul used to deal in antiques together, and Joe would help out from an early age. Paul now specialises in twentieth-century Scandinavian design from Stockholm with his business Jackson Design AB. The twins’ other brother Simon started restoring in their dad’s garage before winning a scholarship to West Dean, where he met his wife, and now Simon and Frauke restore and sell antique and Mid-mod furniture in Bath. From sleek to classic to delightfully unusual, the eye is strong in this family.

No dates are in the diary yet, but if you are eager to exercise your eyes in the real world then check the website to see Modern Decorative at fairs in the future.

©Photographs courtesy of Modern Decorative

Reclaimed Woman