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James Hyman

Art Historian, Photographic Dealer & Collector

Hyman Gallery (London)

Pippa Jane Wielgos

I have been working as an art dealer for 20 years and I have never sold a picture to a client on the basis that it is a 'good' investment. 

I sell what I believe and believe collectors should buy what they love. If it goes up in value that's a bonus!

I have always maintained that what matters is that people they buy a picture they like. I believe in what I show and the artists we show are already established.

I am not one of these people who're selling a 21 year old as the next 'hot' thing.

I would rather have a picture that people hung on their walls rather than stuck in storage and then put in to auction.

Art market writing has had a hugely damaging effect on the art world as almost every article you read is about price tags. The newspapers used to be filled with serious reviews. Today's the coverage seems to be dominated by price tags, auctions and art fairs.

Over the 20 year period prices have continued to increase and I think that it is a pity if that is the reason why people buy a picture. If you are interested in making money there are probably less risky ways of doing it.

My background is an art historian. I received my doctorate from the Courtauld Institute. I have a belief in the art that we show and the work we support despite the fact that it may or may not be an investment.

My tips on buying - buy what you like, buy what you can hang. I also collect. I collect because I keep finding art works that I love, buy what you love.

Over the period there have been particular artists such as Frank Auerbach that have moved steadily, but not spectacularly, then jumped; for example, the prices for a Bacon and Freud are now astronomical. 

When talking to Bridget Riley 20 years ago, she was not hardly selling her work. Now she is has regained full artistic prominence again. An artist can be fashionable, well supported, bought by institutions and major collectors and then may disappear from view which doesn't mean that the art work has gone off or weakened, just that the art critical or institutional or buying dynamic has changed. The best is not to have an eye on the market but look at what an artist is doing in the studio.

There is no such thing as an amateur doctor, but there are amateur dealers and there are a lot of dealers who have unrealistic expectations about how easy it is to sell a picture or what there is, so one has to be very careful.

People have bought very shrewdly and people have made a lot of money, but it does attract a lot of people who are less sure of what they are doing.

When I started nobody was interested in Frank Auerbach. It was a very small circle and then it became something that people were very interested in. It is the same about British photography. It is a small group of people who are interested and the artists who need to be better known.

James Hyman Fine Art Ltd is a commercial fine art and vintage photography gallery specialising in 20th-century British art.

The Hyman Collection consists of over three thousand artworks in all media with an emphasis on photography from its earliest days in the nineteenth century through to contemporary practice. 

Over the last ten years The Hyman Collection has focused on photography, from its earliest days to the present, with a particular emphasis on early French photography.

In 2015 The Hyman Collection launched to provide online access to British photographs in the collection and to use this part of the collection as an educational resource to increase international awareness of British photography.

James Hyman Fine Art Ltd, 16 Savile Row, London W1S 3PL. T: 020 7494 3857.

Photograph courtesy of the Dr Claire and Dr James Hyman, James Hyman Fine Art Ltd.


Arts Research - Journalism - Interviews - Photography - Arts Project Management & Gallery Support

T: + 44 (0) 207 487 3486. M: + 44 (0) 7957 319 056. E: / /">

- By appointment only -

Central London/Regent's Park, London.

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