Flavour of the month



July 5, 2011

Dear Rodney,

Yesterday, Karen Weihs of Asheville, NC, wrote, "I've just toured a wide range of private collectors' homes in Los Angeles. Couples greeted us with open arms, holding their pets and catalogues with great smiles of anticipation; others had their own curators and held back. Many of the homes had similar works of the same artists, which made me think it's all about, "Look, I have one too!" Is it all for competition and ego or is it the natural joy of celebrating creativity? Do collectors give birth to new collectors? Is this how to reap the flurry of fame? The artist wins, but it reminds me of "He who dies with the most toys wins."

Thanks, Karen. Many serious collectors lack the courage to buy art on their own. Unsure, they rather require the opinions of others and tend to flock together in fave galleries and with fave experts. In this way, "popular," while often a local condition, becomes a legitimate measure of desirability. Visiting the homes of my own collectors, I notice the other art they have and can tell the company they keep. Thus we have the relatively new phenomenon of engaging advisors from respected institutions.

Yep, it's good for the "in" artists and crummy for the "out." Fact is, many artists expend a lot of energy trying to be the flavour of the month. Others among us are content with an occasional lick. 
Too much money and too little conviction leads folks to perceived authorities. Pleasantly, when the flock becomes large, there will always be someone to take stuff off your hands. It's called "The Greater Fool Principle." For many, the real joy of art is financial gain, and many well-advised collectors experience a self-fulfilling prophesy. Nothing succeeds like everyone wanting Maple Ripple.
Perhaps dying with a lot of toys is an alternate form of immortality. We humans just naturally accumulate, collect and hoard. Some choose boats, cars, houses, stamps, antique steam engines, music boxes, books, movie posters, comics, hubcaps, tattoos. Thank goodness some choose art.

And there is something to be said for the joyous celebration of creativity. A mystery to otherwise successful people, creativity often seems to them a rare item. Let's face it--art enhances life. The glowing hearts of happy collectors outshine born-again revivalists. We need to celebrate these angels. They keep the scoopers busy, and, like it or not, they are partially responsible for some artists coming up with new flavours.

Best regards,


PS: "Collectors are happy people." (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Esoterica: I once overheard an art dealer quietly say to potential customers, "Madonna has one." The folks were impressed enough to check the painting carefully and look at the price. One has to wonder what Madonna knows about art, or whether she or her curator--or her decorator--chose for her, but it's a good career move for any artist to get work onto significant walls. Important artists and important faces, always hang in important places.