“Noah was the first collector… Here is saving in its strongest sense, not just casual keeping but conscious rescuing from extinction — collection as salvation… In the myth of Noah as ur-collector resonate all the themes of collecting itself: desire and nostalgia, saving and loss, the urge to erect a permanent and complete system against the destructiveness of time.”
–Elsner & Cardinal, “Introduction”
Why collect art? What does it mean to be a collector? What is the difference between buying art and collecting? And where do I begin?
Is collecting art about possession, obsession, digression? Or as for Noah, is it about creating unity and cohesion in the face of chaos and mortality? Collecting art is more than just acquiring pretty things: it is a yearning to support the arts, to be a part of art history, to tell a story and create a unique grouping of works that reflects one’s taste, a specific historical period and ideas. Important collectors through the ages have shaped art history in both overt and subtle ways.
For many, collecting art is an almost quasi-religious mission. In the 1920s Peggy Guggenheim used her inheritance to support the Parisian avant-garde, acquiring the work of Picasso, Dali and Chagall, among others. In the 1950s she was instrumental in the career of Jackson Pollock and other Abstract Expressionists. Her private collection is now the most important museum in Italy for European and American art of the first half of the 20th century.
From the Sculls in the 1960s, de Menil’s in the 1970s to contemporary collectors such as Eli Broad in Los Angeles, the Kramlichs in San Francicso, Rosa de la Cruz in Miami and the Emmanuel Hoffman Foundation in Switzerland, important private art collectors have become fundamental to (using “cornerstone” to describe people is a mixed metaphor) our contemporary art museums and institutions. In addition to painting, drawing and other traditional media, these collectors often support challenging work that is difficult to exhibit or see to the average art enthusiast. And this support of avant-garde art practices allows artists to create work that expands our very definition of art.
Patronage is its own reward: the true collector supports artistic production, develops a meaningful and personal group of works and thus becomes engaged in the conversation of art history. Each artwork has purpose and meaning, and each acquisition tells the story of the collector’s evolving tastes and ideas. Leonard Riggio, former Chairman of the Board of Dia said it best when describing his involvement with Dia as one of the best periods of his life, “… and here I am as both witness and participant. This is as exciting as it gets.”
But where do I begin?
Some collectors concentrate on a period, an artist, an idea or a particular media. For example, one collection I helped build began with the collector’s interest in woman artists and portraiture. We started acquiring works by contemporary artists such as Katy Grannan and Wangechi Mutu and now are contextualizing these with art historical precedents like Diane Arbus and Kara Walker. The collection grows outward from its original inspiration, so that each artwork informs the other and creates a dialogue between itself and the viewer.
As you can see, collecting is much more complex than finding a painting that fits over the couch! It can be an intellectual pursuit, a treasure hunt, an obsession, and a very satisfying challenge.
Collecting requires an itch to see art, a love of creative expression and a deep desire to live with and care for important and beautiful objects.
My role is to offer each collector a customized curatorial vision and strategy. I offer a unique combination of scholarly knowledge, unbiased opinion, and a long-term approach, as well as a full range of necessary services for the discerning collector, from international travel to market research to installation planning. Years of involvement in the international art world allows me access to the best works and opportunities. Please visit my services page for more information.