You (Yes, You) Can Be an Art Collector 

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This holiday season, why not give the gift of art? It might sound tacky, and a little daunting, but it's never been simpler. More and more galleries and online stores are realizing that there's a market for affordable work by new and established artists. As the art world reels from big name collectors and patrons' shrinking budgets, many have started commissioning smaller works, artist editions and prints to offer young and discerning art fans an opportunity to make a difference.

Sure, auction houses are starting to see huge numbers again—the Andy Warhol above, "200 Dollar Bills," recently sold for a stunning $43.7 million, a figure that seems especially astronomical given the self-conscious comment the painting conveys about art as a consumer commodity—but the collectors who make up most of the sales in galleries are becoming more cautious. In a recent Bloomberg article, Katya Kazakina noted that many of the galleries she visited on the Lower East Side, where rents are cheaper and the art, in turn, is often appealing to a younger audience, were sold out. As the art world adjusts to a market that seems increasingly polarized between super-collectors and everyday people who care enough about to contribute, there are more and more ways to find, browse and buy good, affordable art.

Some of these services are massive and require very savvy, patient perusing, others are tightly controlled and curated to make sure your money is going to art that isn't just worthwhile and interesting, but also a wise investment. The art world is in the midst of a massive restructuring, and for what seems like the first time in ages, collectors with a normal person's budget stand to gain the most, and exercise an unprecedented influence over which artists succeed. The following are some of the most interesting, innovative, comprehensive, specific, uneven, exclusive, slick, gritty, local, global and, above all, affordable places for art enthusiasts to start building a collection without spending a fortune.

The Artist of the Month Club
Probably the most interesting and exciting new model for collecting art on a reasonable budget was created about a year ago by Benjamin Tischer and Risa Needleman, co-founders of the Artist of the Month Club (AMC) and Invisible-Exports, a gallery on the Lower East Side. The AMC works like a monthly magazine: you pay an annual subscription fee and receive an original edition every month by a new artist, chosen by a new curator. At $3,000 it sounds expensive (you can pay on an installment plan), but that works out to $250 per piece, which is very affordable considering the caliber of artists and curators involved.

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