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Art Auction Etiquette

Learn the Etiquette You Must Follow When Attending an Art Auction

If you are interested in attending an art auction but are not sure about what qualifies as acceptable behavior, then this article can prove to be useful to you.
ArtHearty Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
There is a certain etiquette that is expected of us while attending an art auction. In the recent times, as more and more people have seemingly become interested in art, auctioneers and organizers have witnessed some unpleasant scenes during auctions. The bourgeoisie have been thronging to art houses with increased vigor, but ignorance about how to comport oneself has created new challenges for organizers. It is imperative therefore, that we do a bit of homework on the accepted audience etiquette before we embark on a trip to those hallowed halls.

Etiquette for Art Auction

Art auctions have a distinct feel to them, and it is very easy for someone who has never been to an art auction before, to feel out of place. There are some tips which if followed, can minimize the chances of a faux pas, apart from ensuring that you do not spend a fortune on a piece that nobody wants to buy. Let us take a look at these art auction tips.

► The first and the foremost thing that any connoisseur will tell you to do is to know a great deal about what you are going to buy. This includes meeting the dealers to know the history of the art or the artist, knowing the unpublished reserve price, and most importantly, knowing who is going to bid for that particular piece. There are times when the work that you fondly adore may not be on everyone's radar, so you can cash in by getting it at a runaway price. Also, previewing an artwork also gives you some insight into the condition of that particular piece.
► It is important that you pay a visit to the office of the auction house to register yourself and get your personal paddle number. You can also use this time to study the rules by which the auction will be governed. It is important to be accustomed with the rules and regulations of the auction as you do not want to be in a position where you are wondering what's going on or interrupting the auctioneer to ask some naive questions.
► The paddle that is used during the bidding process calls for judicious use. You can simply hold it up to draw the attention of the auctioneer towards you. You have to remember that you are seated in a rarefied milieu where a certain amount of decency in behavior is expected.
► Although art auctions are characterized with constant discussion between the buyers and their advisers, it is important to be considerate towards other people. You should speak at a low volume to ensure that you are not creating a nuisance for other people who may be trying to concentrate.
► The place where you sit also plays an important part in establishing an appropriate art house etiquette. If you frequent the lavatory far too often, taking a seat at the back or on the end of a row would be a nice idea.
► Nothing can be as repulsive for buyers than the sound of your beeping cell phone when the bidding is going on. Keep your phone on silent mode and if you need to attend an urgent call, ensure that you step outside without causing too much of ruckus.
► Asking a fellow bidder about a certain item and then bidding against him/her is another grave mistake that should be avoided. It leads to unpleasant situations and portrays you poorly in the public eye. Similarly, bidding on something you do not want to buy should be avoided. Many people indulge in these activities to settle personal scores or to increase the price of a particular item. You have to remember that there are lot of people who earnestly want to own a piece that they like, and by creating obstacles for them, you deny them the chance to realize their wish.

It is important that we display desirable behavior and conduct ourselves in a dignified manner. We hope that this article would have helped you with some useful information on etiquette for art auction.