Monday, August 24, 2009

Is Government and art really such a bad thing?

I just read Jonathan Jones' recent rant over at the Guardian and I must say I'm a little annoyed. He criticizes the British government's art collection and the choices that it has made. £500,000 of taxpayers' money was used to collect contemporary art last year, and many of the choices have upset people, including a work by Dan Batchelor which involves the use of old light bulbs and wire.

Part of me commends the Telegraph (the original publisher of the report on the government's art spending) and Jones for questioning the quality and enormous cost of the collection. Questioning is essential to any good democracy and should always be encouraged. However, their flagrant disapproval of the work of Batchelor - describing it as though it is almost a piece of trash - is so unbelievably hypocritical. They want works of "high quality" to be purchased, and don't believe the government should be wasting money on silly work like Batchelor's, yet praise the work of Lucian Freud. Who are they to say that Batchelor's work will be any less significant than the work of Freud in 50, or 100 years, or is at this very moment. I almost couldn't believe what I was reading - I felt like I we must have regressed to a time before Modernism hit us... and gasp!!! postmodern art --- eek! yuck!

They also are riled up at the mere idea that the government is spending such enormous amounts of money on art in a time of economic turmoil. Maybe if governments throughout the world would spend even more money on the arts, then we would have more well-rounded societies and economies. Art investment - at the "high level" like through auctions & galleries... and on the "low" level like public education for our children - is essential to the growth and success of our nations. But feel free to question me... I encourage it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ms. Bell

I recently came across a great profile of an art collector in the Times. Patricia Bell is a senior vice president with Merrill Lynch, but her home offers an incredible view into a contemporary art collection, with works by Chuck Close, Tom Nussbaum, and Yinka Shonibare. Her story reminds me why so many of us fall in love with this maddening addiction known as "collecting art".

From the article:

Ms. Bell is the kind of collector artists dream of.

“When an artwork comes into my home I feel as though I’ve made a connection to the soul of the artist,” said Ms. Bell, who clearly gets it — the struggle, challenge and intellectual rigor that goes into the creation of a work of art.

According to Ms. Bell, “there are lots of different ways to tell history, but art is one of the most interesting ways to keep track of what’s going on.”

She began collecting in 1989 and is largely self-taught in contemporary art and art history, although she has benefited from the advice and knowledge of others.

“Beginners should get out and look, keep an open mind and listen to experts,” Ms. Bell advised, adding that museum docents are a great resource who are often overlooked. “They’re passionate about art and can provide important background and insights into artists and their work, whether you’re just looking or looking with the intention of collecting.”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Attenborough art collection up for sale

The director and actor Sir Richard Attenborough has decided to put his art collection up for sale. Attenborough, who directed Ghandi (1982), said "that he felt that after 60 years collecting art it was time to pass the works on for others to enjoy."

Sotheby's will auction the work on November 11 and it is expected to fetch upwards of 2 million GBP.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sad, sad day

I was just going to leave it with a retweet - "RT@MutualArt - sad day for art - DC collector's house burns, along with the art inside -" - but it seemed like I should spend a few more minutes on this tragic story...

The home of D.C. art collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz burned last week, along with her very large and significant collection of work by minority artists. It shocked to read about it - no amount of money will be able to replace the work or mend Cafritz's heart after this devastation. See below to see before and after images of the incredible home: