Flavour of the month
July 5, 2011
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
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.
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.