You Can Only Do Something Well If You Are Obsessed In Some Way. I Would Say I Am Addicted To Collecting. What means collecting contemporary art?

We would like to present to the beginning art collectors what means collecting contemporary art. Anonymous passionate collector based in East London is sharing with his experience and thoughts about the art world in the UK. Tom collects mostly German contemporary art since beginning of the 8O’s. His collection is comprised of  dozens of artwork made  in various media: sculpture, paintings, graphics, drawings.

Francis Bacon in his studio in 1980, photograph Jane Bown

How did you start collecting?
After seeing a print by Francis Bacon in1992. In the window of the Bruton Street Gallery inLondon

Which did you enjoy more: the hunt involved in collecting or the pleasure of owning major works of art?
I think both points here are connected therefore you can’t say which one is more important.

Whom, if anyone, do you listen to for advice when buying art?
I try and get as much information as possible and tend to ask everyone I can think of for advice. Although you have to be careful who you ask. At the same time as you may then lose out on a piece as the person you are asking might want it himself.

 Charles Saatchi called himself an artoholic, what about you? Do you consider yourself to be an artoholic?
You can only do something well if you are obsessed in some way. I would say I am addicted to it.

What is your favourite gallery/museum?
I like all galleries and museums I have been to.

View inside Tate Modern in London

Do you have your favourite piece in the collection?
 Unfortunately many of the pieces that would be my favourite I don’t own anymore which is a bit sad looking back.

Do you make friendship with artists and art dealers?
 I used to try and stay clear of building friendship with the artists and dealers as I knew I might have to sell something at some point in order to fund another purchase and I didn’t want to upset them. At the same time, I am very friendly with some artists and it is great to be able to know some of your heroes.

Of which artist are you mostly proud in your collection?
 I can’t single one out as this is unfair to the other artists.

  What did you collect as a child?
Everything from stamps to records.

What did you collect as a child? Everything from stamps to records

Do you regret your purchases?
Sometimes, inevitable you make a few mistakes along the way, but that’s the only way to develop experience and to avoid doing it again.

Do you have any advices to people who would like to join art world?
Don’t take it too seriously and try to gather as much knowledge as possible. Read all the art journals, go to as many talks and guided tours at the museums. Look at all the art documentaries, hang out at the openings and get involved.

Do you believe in philanthropy?
If you can afford to give part of your collection away or even all of it, I think this is a great way to keep museums going as most of the works you see are gifts in some way.

Do you see your art collection as a heritage for the next generation?
 Not really

Do you believe that through collecting you support artistic communities? And collecting contributes to the development of culture?
 If you buy an art work obviously you help the artist as they need money to continue and pay for their materials and production costs to produce the next shows they plan. Without collectors there would be nothing for the public to go and see in the museums.

What do you think of the art world?
It can be very stressful but always very interesting and exciting

 How often do you buy?
Hopefully you can take it easily, but if a few pieces turn up out of the blue. You can get caught out and this situation can crop up quite frequently which refers to your another question.

Where do you buy?
 I think that wherever to see the piece you want that fits into your collecting agenda, it could be at a fair, in the artist studio, at another collectors house, wherever?

 Do you visit  art exhibitions?
 I try and see as many exhibitions as possible from the blockbusters at the National Gallery to all students final degree shows.

 How do you judge what to buy? Do you seek advice?
 As I mentioned before it is important to seek advice as you can’t know everything yourself, however skilled you are. But I am not a fan of art consultant but that only because I have a time to do my own research.

Your collection encompasses numbers of artworks, what is your strategy in purchasing art?
 There can be many strategies and I think it is important to have a strategy of some kind or a theme as it is often called. For example, have people who only collect female artists, or paintings that are all on the same size square canvases. I think if you collect a group of artists such as the Minimalists or the Viennese Actionists or the Pop Artists this would be my approach. However there is nothing wrong with eclectic taste and a whole mish mash of things.

What do you look when buying a work of art?
 Obviously you have to have a gut reaction that you like a work. Then you have to consider how this new piece will fit in with the rest of the work and the relationship that will develop based on what you already have. Sometimes it is nice to know what the future holds for an artist in terms of his career but that is a bit going towards the speculation side of things which is fine as art can and should be an investment not only financially but also spiritually.

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