Art Collectors and Enthusiasts
Our regular tutor has been away ill recently so we had a stand in for this session with a an interesting positive video for us to watch and consider. This week was more about some of the more positive aspects of being an artist and the relationships we build in our practices.
Before we started we had a brief chat about art collectors and philanthropists. We have examples in Australia from such people as Elisabeth Murdoch and the Felton Bequest in the NGV. These people and the trusts they set up enable galleries to purchase artworks and collections they normally would not be able to afford. Keen collectors often donate their collections to galleries and museums so that the work of certain artists will not only be archived and cared for properly but also seen by the public in years to come.
Collectors of any sort can be a bit obsessive about buying more and more of their interest, such as art by a certain artist. For them it is not about the money, it is about the passion. They simply love that particular art or artist. Sometimes a personal relationship is built up over time between artists and their collectors, blossoming into friendships or even the feeling of extended family. It becomes symbiotic, the artist enjoying the chance to produce freely and the collector having fun collecting what they love from artists as they build what looks like happy relationships with them.
The Vogels, for example had 4,782 works when they were donated to the museum, which was carefully selected as well. Once clear of these works from their little apartment, they simply began collecting all over again!
Here, I think, is a good place to begin my thoughts on the video:
(Herbert Vogel (August 16, 1922 – July 22, 2012) and Dorothy Vogel (born 1935)
A married couple devoted to not only each other but also to collecting art. A shared passion.
This story was a delightful one that is some ways reminded me of my own marriage. A couple who when they met, began sharing a passion. Even thought they were not rich, and both had jobs, these two decided that they loved art and started by studying it. After a while they began collecting more than they were producing themselves and the long story of their love of other artist’s work began. With no children in the picture (just like us) these two were able to build up a collection over more than forty years together (we are building a business and property).
From Minimalists, to surrealists to Concept Art, if the Vogels saw it and liked it, they often built up a relationship with the artist and began collecting. They collected so much early work by emerging artists that when they finally donated it to the gallery, there were over five truck loads to move it all safely! Then they began collecting all over again!
To some this may be more of an obsession than a passion, a bit like hoarding or OCD, to others, especially the artists that they have supported over they years, it has been income that paid the rent and fed them, or paid for new materials so they could keep practising.
After watching the Art Bubble recently, this was a relief to see people who genuinely loved the art and the artists. Not in it for get rich quick schemes, for the ego trip, for prestige and the cult of personality. It was all about the art. What a breath of fresh air.
- The money was not the point.
- Ego was not the point.
- Prestige of owning a particular popular artist’s work was not the point.
- Knowing the right people was not the point.
- Being seen in the right places was not the point.
The important messages in this video for me were the need to build up relationships with those that show an interest in your work. To be approachable, friendly, informative, professional in your behaviour so that potential buyers feel comfortable approaching you to make that initial contact. Talk about what you are doing, why you are doing it, show joy in your work and bring others along with you. The enthusiasm may be catching! The next thing for me after that is how to keep those relationships going without being a sales person (which I am not naturally). I want to sell, but that is not the main reason I paint, draw or sculpt, I do it because I love it and believe that I am good at it. I want to have good relationships with my buyers, bring them along with me on the journey and hopefully some will become collectors and friends. I already have a few people who have shown interest in my art and made multiple purchases but I am still unsure how I should nurture these relationships without appearing pushy. Hopefully as this year and the next couple unfold, I will gain more skills and confidence in this area.
It was good to learn that keen collectors of art do not have to be multi millionaires. They can be neighbours, business people, just people who love art and put aside enough to purchase things that catch their eye. Hopefully we have enough of them living in Australia who love the art of emerging artists who are working so hard to make amazing artworks right now.