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Interview with an art collector #4

Explain your process for collecting art.  My mother was a figurative and then an abstract artist, and my father was an art critic, so I have a broad appreciation for different kinds of art. That being said, any work that I collect has to have a spark, a personal connection to me.

My process starts with being aware of art around me everyday. I’m online, or in galleries, or reading magazines, always looking for pieces that sing to me. When they do, I answer.

I buy from galleries both in person and online, through online sites such as Artsy, Auctionata, Saatchi, and have participated in auctions such as those run by Bassenge, Bonhams, Christie, Heffel, Philips, Sotheby, and more.

I’ve bought from American galleries from coast to coast, as well as from Europe and Asia, factoring the cost of shipping into my perceived value of a piece.

I have a personal collection, which includes gifts from friends, with an eclectic theme. But the significant collection is one curated jointly by myself and my partner, which is built around a broad theme of magic realism with a strong narrative subtext.

What was the first artwork you collected and why? The first artwork I ever purchased was a small gouache landscape by a local artist, that I bought in my first year of university. Previous to that I’d declared pieces of my mother’s work as “mine”.

For this first purchase, I used some of the funds from a scholarship I’d won. Instead of scolding me, my parents were proud of me – and, thankfully, said they’d make up the funds I’d used instead of paying tuition.

Have you bought work which was in a publication and if so which ones? Print publications – ARTnews, ArtReview, frieze, Juxtapoz, KIOSK, Wallpaper – tend to point me towards artists. Digital publications and sites – Artsy, Auctionata, Combustus, PoetsArtists, Saatchi – point me towards specific pieces. I also subscribe to the newsletters of several galleries and auction houses.

I’ve bought many pieces because of digital publications – mostly featured pieces on sale, but sometimes a piece on the artist’s website linked to from the publication.

For example, because of PoetsArtists I have both small and large pieces from Ivonne Bess, Erica Elan Ciganek, Susannah Martin, Didi Menendez, Nadine Robbins, Jessica Smith, and Aron Wiesenfeld.

Which is your most cherished piece? This would be a piece painted by my mother, a large oil called “Gathering”.

Apart from that, it would be the most recent piece that I acquire at any time.

Do you buy multiple images from artists or try to just stay with one? I tend to look at an artist from the perspective of career consistency, so if I find one piece that connects with me, I tend to collect multiple pieces from that artist. I have as many as twenty pieces, for example, from several artists.

However, if a single piece speaks to me, while standing out from the rest of the artist’s portfolio, there’s still a good chance I’ll collect it.

Do you have a budget in mind when buying art? I have a notional annual budget, and as long as the aggregate purchases are below that, I can continue to buy what I like. In 2016, I acquired pieces that ranged from $100 to $10K. I’ve seriously considered single pieces of up to $50K but have not gone beyond $20K for a single piece to date.

Do you buy art because you think it is a good investment? Never buy art because you think it’s a good investment. You’ll likely be disappointed. Buy it because you fall in love with it. 

Value appreciation is a side effect. Art has turned out to be a good investment for me – but I’ve only bought one piece specifically for investment. It was a lithograph from a limited edition set I already have an example of. The piece was bought from an auction in Germany, and I decided to patriate it to the artist’s home country, where the value would be higher.

We will probably never sell the collection. We’re talking with galleries now, beginning negotiations for a donation.

Who are some of artists are in your collection? Classic artists in my collection include Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, and Henry Moore (one of which I gifted to my mother). I have been outbid on works I wanted from Giorgio de Chirico, Pablo Picasso, and René Magritte.

More well-known contemporary artists in the collection include Damien Hirst, Shepard Fairey, Tracey Emin, Wim Wenders, Mat Collishaw, Jenny Holzer, Isaac Julien, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Alex Colville, and Elmgreen & Dragset.

Besides the PoetsArtists names I listed above, I also collect Eloise Fornieles, Liu Ye, Noritoshi Hirakawa, Ryoichi Kuraokawa, Marion Tampon Lajarriette, Jeremy Smith, Mercedes Helnwein, Christopher Pratt, Alan Smutylo, Annie Morris, David Blackwood, Heather Horton, Sean William Randall, Paul Roorda, Christina Sealey, James Nye, Johnny Kilabuk, Sarah Jane Gorlitz, and Jean Paul Lemieux.

I have multiple works from many of the artists above.