The Original Collectors Series: New York, NY

With a selection of 30,000 works of art, New York’s RoGallery occupies a 10,000 square foot space in Long Island City, but the majority of the buyers who make up its global clientele view the selection online. In 1996, the gallery was among the first of its kind use a digital platform for art auctions; works curated from galleries, publishers, personal collections and artists themselves. “I’ve been going to auctions for the past 50 years,” says Robert Rogal, who has run the gallery for 40 years. “Between Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Doyle, Art Basel, Art Expo and a few other places and museums in New York, I preview art just about every weekend.” We asked Rogal for his expert opinion on how to start and grow a personal collection.

If someone wants to start collecting art but is unsure of where to start, what do you tell them?

I like the modern masters: Picasso, de Gaulle, Dalí, Miró. I don’t think you could go wrong with them. They’re in every museum in the world. One of the things I like about my job is that there’s potential value for people who are just starting out. Pieces are collectible and could have a secondary market.

When people come to you, do they usually have the piece or the space in mind?

Either or. Some buy color, some are afraid of color and like black and white. Some people like images of animals. It’s a category, it’s a choice, it’s a comfort level.

The Original Collectors Series: New York, NY
The Original Collectors Series: New York, NY
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The Original Collectors Series: New York, NY

What are the merits of collecting many pieces from one category or artist, versus having range of styles?

I probably believe in diversification. I don’t believe you should put all your eggs in any one basket and prefer having a number of different artists. For instance, in this sale we have some Peter Max, whose work we’ve represented from since the 1970s. We have Salvador Dalís from The Collector’s Guild, we have a Willem de Kooning that was done for the Rainbow Foundation, there are a couple of Ertés, which are popular with people who like art deco. Then there’s some good contemporary work by Susan Hall, and some original Robert Indiana pieces; he just had a show at the Whitney Museum.

Is there a category that’s very popular right now?

You know, any category of art you could say is popular, whether it’s figurative or abstract or optical; art’s a moment in time. It’s in the eye of the beholder. I never know what moves somebody. That said, we do have some Jurgen Peters, who’s an optical artist. That’s a very popular category today.

What are things you tell people to consider before they make a big investment in a piece?

I always ask: “Where would you put it?” Is it going in the great room, the dining room, the bedroom? I tell people to enjoy it.

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