In recent times the art world has seen an influx of people spending vast amounts of money on ever growing art collections. Global interest rates are at historic lows, driving well off people and the mega wealthy alike to the stock exchange and the art markets to invest their capital. Artists, art galleries and auction houses who have positioned themselves well are seeing their income rise and the new kid on the art block, the NFT market, is making a meteoric rise with artworks changing digital hands for incredible sums. It seems that collecting art has become a great investment in times of social and economic uncertainty.
To me, this raises the question what in today's world it actually means to be an art collector. It's a question, I think, every collector should ask themselves while taking a hard look in the mirror.
Are you collecting the works of specific artists out of a passion for the art form or the work's subject-matter? Are you giddy with excitement when an artist whose work you collect lets you know he or she is working on another piece that has your name written all over it?
Or do you spend your time looking at the development rate of certain artist's sales prices, talking to fellow collectors about investment opportunities and evaluating the return on investment of your collection?
In other words; are you collecting art or are you accumulating wealth?
Don't get me wrong; I have no problem with people making smart investments and as a gallery owner I don't mind seeing the income of artists and galleries alike going through the roof.
But I do want us all to think about the downsides of recent developments. Can we please not forget that art is there for us to love, to be inspired by, to make us think and ask questions and be the subject of our passion? Can we also not forget that art is there for all of us; not just for the wealthy? And that paying ever increasing amounts of money for artworks is driving those without investment capital away from the art world.
So next time you add a beautiful piece of art to your beloved collection; please truly enjoy it for the showcase of talent, dedication and inspiration that it is and not just for the profit you might make on it someday.....
Am I too cynical? Or blaming collectors where no blame is due? Please leave your opinion in the comments and let's have a friendly discussion amongst art minded people!
Jasper van der Scheer
Founder of The Arts Gallery, entrepreneur, doctor, father