Examining the Collecting Mystique: Passion or Duty or Self-Indulgence? ___________________________________________________The contemporary art world piques the interest of both novice and seasoned collectors. Everyone wants to know why people buy art. Is it a good investment? Should one purchase only from the heart? Does the “addict” collector buy for the right reasons? Are there right or wrong purchases?
Bill Dunlap, Moderator, Artist and Art Commentator, Miami
Lorie Peters Lauthier, Collector, DC and Paris
Martin Irvine, Owner of Irvine Contemporary
Jack Rasmussen, Director and Curator of the Katzen Arts Center
Michael Abrams, Collector, DC
__________________________________________________________This was an important lecture for seasoned and beginning collectors, artists, gallerists and interested art lovers. I attended this 1- 1/2 hour arTalks lecture at the Convention Center this afternoon. The house was packed and I only got a seat mid way through the talks. Here are some of the high points I gleaned from the panelists experiences in the world of collecting. I found it very exciting to hear firsthand from passionate collectors and hope that you find it equally rewarding.
From Jack Rasmussen of the Katzen Arts Center- "Artists create art because they have to. Making art is not a rational decision. Collectors are the most important players in the art world.....scouring the art world in ways curators are not." "Auctions are great places to find art."
Michael Abrams collects photographs from galleries and from ebay in a range of prices. He says collecting is something that stays with you even if you don't hold onto the objects you collect. "One has to learn how to collect both at an inexpensive level or higher." He looks at the relative value of the art both in terms of the history of the times it was created and how the artist participated in the history of the medium. "Look at who is the building blocks of the medium and who are the peripheral players." Collecting is both a viseral and an intellectual experience for the collector. A collector begins to recognize the patterns of what appeals to them.
Lorie Peters Lauthier contributed that in the 1970's photography was not so collected since it was a new medium. "Now we have video, glass, ceramics with furniture and architectual design as a mixture of the way we live today." She says that scarcity is valued in editions with low numbers creating more value. Look for the least amount in photographic reproductions, 5 or 8 to create scarcity and higher value. Harry Lunn whipped the photo market into shape in the beginning in Washington, DC.
Martin Irvine elaborated that value is created in the art world in the same way we value other things. "Why shouldn't a great piece of art be valued the same way. Ubercollectors like Podesta show great leadership in taking risks on art that the art world hasn't yet decided on. The art world is sustained by collectors on every level. The art boom exists because of all the people on every level of every tier."
Abrams- "There's nothing more exciting for a collector than seeing art by a relatively unknown artist and saying, my god, (s)he's got it."
Lauthier - "There may be high growth in younger artists who then plateau anywhere between ages 30-50 even 60. As they get older, if the artist continues to do great things, the younger work is very valuable. The work can go down in value if the artist does no work in their later years."
Irvine- "Art value follows the information economy. What are the photographers thinking. Are they taking the medium to new places. What's the new story. We already know the old story. Art has value that is in dialogue with history, an ongoing 3000 year old conversation about what it is to make great art."
Lauthier- collects certain artists over time through galleries all over the world and on the internet. As a collector, she also promotes her artists to other gallerists who visit her home. "Collecting is sharing and communication, like a good joke that you want to share."
Dunlap -" It's like Art Evangelism."
Abrams- "Collectors get past the object to the person behind it." Advocacy includes being on Boards of Institutions, giving an artist money for a catalogue, for a trip to take the photographs for a project, for publishing photo books with no economic return but advances the artist's career.
Irvine- "It's all about relationships. Having been in Washington, DC for 19 years, extraordinary things are happening. It's the best contemporary arts has ever been." The gallery would love to negotiate with collectors who are committed to building a relationship. The galleries keep value of the artwork for the artist and for a network of other galleries around the world.
Lauthier- On collecting art - "It's about Passion, about your art talking to you. Whether it goes up in value or not, you've had it to live with all this time."
Bill Dunlap - "There's three important elements in the art world: The Critic, The Artist, The Dealer. The dealers work hard. They earn their commission by doing the best for the artists they represent."
Now go out and collect some art.