Building an Art Collection on a Budget, Part I
Entering the world of art as a viewer of traditional paintings and sculptures or entering it as a participant in conceptualist installations in public galleries is undoubtedly one of life’s most powerful rites of passage. As an individual and as an event shared amongst friends the experience of art lends life a new dialogue with the interpretations of beauteous subjects, ideas and world events and movements.
And, undoubtedly, entering the world of art as a collector is an even more powerful rite of passage as it signifies one of the oldest and most profound relationships since time immemorial: the relationship between the patron and the artist, a symbiotic step that speaks to the support and appreciation of the arts on a very personal level.
To be a collector is a grounding affirmation of the personal sense of fulfillment one finds through art. It speaks to the invitation we make to artists to enter our homes and workplaces. It speaks to the wholesomely unique statement we freely choose to make about ourselves. And it speaks to a sense of self that we wish to experience daily and equally share with our friends and family.
While the obvious start for most of us in high school, then college and/or university, is to begin a collection of prints and posters of coveted works of art, both high art and underground urban movements, it is a process most often reflected by our available budgets as much as tastes. Or that is to say our limited budgets. Let’s be honest, even prints and posters can be a costly feat when we are responsible for tuition, rent, entertainment and the general cost of living. Framing becomes a lovely bonus (thank you, Ikea!).
For me I recall my first apartment was adorned with posters of Matisse’s Blue Nude, and Thomson’s Jack Pine. And who doesn’t remember the obligatory dorm prints? - Starry Night and Café Terrace at Night? I had the latter and even visited the very café that inspired it. In my early 20s these works held great cache amongst friends stopping by for drinks before a night out. Things change.
The balancing of one’s interest in procuring art with the realities of budgeting is an entirely understandable matter. And make no mistake about it: even the purchase of a poster/print in some manner addresses that symbiotic relationship because it supports the artist, or estate thereof as is the case of past masters and prized avant-gardists. Perhaps this line of acquisition feels more indirect as more third parties are part of the deal and sometimes we question the authenticity of rummaging through stacks of prints at a local market so far removed from the artist who created the work. This latter thought usually crosses our minds more and more as time goes on while we aim to fill up those remaining wall spaces.
But life moves forward. We get better jobs, become more stable and the interest in collecting art refines itself further. That is to say that we naturally move towards the acquisition of original works of art. Highlighting that stage where our dorm rooms and first studio apartments are covered with a cross section of posters/prints is a testament to when many of us begin to question the values we wish to invest in our cultural explorations. That is to say as engaging young people we do experience original works of art at both public and private galleries. We see, meet, and hear about exciting exhibitions and collections that we imagine ourselves to make our own meaningful strides in that area.
In the next scrawl on this subject I will venture into an exploration of ways we can budget for collecting original works of art and I will offer up some local Vancouver artifacts as examples of such a starting point.