I read a lot of articles about the art world. I subscribe to current articles that often relate what happened at certain events or shows. They offer news from small galleries to big museums, auctions and art fairs around the world. These articles are shared and reposted over several platforms. They sometimes read like a red carpet review of “who wore what, where and when” but they also contain serious information like auction trends and percentages per genre. Topics may be about a particular artist, who has somehow busted an all time record for the sale of a single piece. This industry reading is part of what one does, when one does, what I do, make art. I wonder, is there a scenario of the Art Collector vs. the Art Collector?
Make art. Let those two words ring in the air for a minute. It brings to my mind the never ending question, what is a work of art? More pointedly then, I may ask myself if I might apply the same test to the two words, “art world”. What, or rather which art world? The Mega-collector art world or the Passion collector art world? Is there a difference?
The articles I am reading often refer to The Art World, that has evolved and changed as if in a linear progression from the Medici’s to the Guggenheims. It is the edgy, hip and fashion oriented, multi-million dollar mega art world. People who play here often arrive in their own personal jets. The art collector in this world is able to make large transactions for art ownership and perhaps even bragging rights. The art world is a market for investors to lodge some of their assets into art treasures, as holdings for their diversified portfolios. This is the interesting intersection where collecting is also a form of strategic asset planning. In the 80/20 ratio, perhaps one could argue the latter is for the love of the art? I’ve met a few collectors who truly love the work they buy, even as it adds to their personal equity.
Then, there is the so-assumed smaller “art world”. This art world, probably set up more like a cottage industry, where the artist makes and sells his or her own creations directly to the buyer or through a modest show. Perhaps a show here and there allows some bragging rights for the artist this time. They can announce their acceptance and approval into the show or gallery. The collectors in this art world often generate into personal relationships between artist and patron. There is as much appreciation from the artist to the collector as there is between the artwork and buyer. Therefore, the dividends are a product of a different motivation in the acquisition of an artwork.
It will be interesting to see if the Art Collector vs. the Art Collector will be “of worlds colliding” or of the worlds come together. There is a lot of talk beginning to happen about the restructuring of the art market, which could cause a radical shift in the art world.
The shift could not be so ground-breakingly new as it would be a shift toward an aggregate market of equitable relativity. In other words, the exclusivity of “gatekeeper markets” are on the same playing field as the “passion collector” market. Much in the spirit of Walter Benjamin’s essay, “Unpacking My Library”, (Illuminations, by Walter Benjamin), one who collects is one who cherishes the thing he or she owns. This collector has an “intrinsic ownership”. This type of ownership could be in the same artistic regard as if the collector created it. He or she will often assign great personal importance to the piece. Thus the dividend of personal value which over time, creates actual value that can be measured only with priceless equity.