The road to art collecting, a journey steeped in history of the human being
The history of art collecting is for many the history of the human being himself.
The collector’s spirit emerges early in infancy, and who is accompanied by this passion conquered the rest of his life.
Art collecting is no exception, but in today’s market, we have a huge range of profiles ranging from an individual to a museum, a new rich to a recognized collector, or a casual buyer to an investor.
A range as wide as is the art market itself. Art collecting since its inception has been a symbol of prestige and power linked to the wealth even though the motivations of the collectors are not always the same. Let us review the brushstrokes that bring us the story of one of the key pieces of the art circuit.
We go back to the 2nd Century B.C. to meet the most remote origin of collecting. The search for a desired of a social status at the time led to increase the interest in objects of art, an interest that continued to escalate until today. During the Roman Empire, they organized the first auction that included among the various pieces of art objects, which caused the rise of the first professionals related to collecting. Among them is the Emperor Hadrian, for many the first collector of history, in love with Greek art and, without pursuing any commercial purpose, his passion only met the search for pure aesthetic pleasure.
Move forward in time to get to 11th Century to the Middle Ages. During this time they begin to develop markets in the West and among its products, including the art trade, but the activity continues to decline to the nuclei of power, kings and dignitaries of relevance within the ecclesiastical establishment. With urban development and economic prosperity of the Modern Age begins to revitalize the art market that is driven by the growing collectibles and ecclesiastical court, but especially by the bourgeois. The bourgeoisie is beginning to have increasing importance due to their economic status and its dominant role in the commercial circuit.
It then passed to a custom collector with a private nature that triggers the appearance of the figure of the collector in the strict sense of the word. The new “professional” in the art world collects works, organizes and classifies them to his sole discretion. Thus, arise the first contacts between artists and collectors and the first patrons appear, major figure within the art circuit. The prestige of the art market is growing and also created the first schools of art.
The “rebirth” to the avant-garde
The Renaissance becomes one of the most fruitful stages for collecting. The major European States and the Church began to support the art market to enrich their own collections, and betting on organized exhibitions of new artists. Besides, the nobility and the bourgeoisie backed the era of the birth of public art markets and auction houses.
The concept of humanism appears with the man as the central axis of the universe and within the art increases the works that the bet on a theme that revolves around this new intellectual movement, philosophical and cultural closely linked to the Renaissance. They begin to collect foreign objects, antiques and parts of a market with a historic character.
Private spaces also arise, suitable for collections in the form of studies, showing a growing interest in art and culture. An important role played in the time of Pope Julius II, the pontiff was in charge of asking Michelangelo to decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, one of the most spectacular works in the history of art.
The Renaissance also moved us to the Baroque; this is when the first museums emerge in charge of confirming the values of history and also the first art galleries. Collecting begins to expand and live with artists, merchants and even art appraisers. The sale of works increase and collectors are positioned within the market.
The industrial revolution of the 19th Century leads to the emergence of new entrepreneurs, including many collectors who turn their passion for art in a new way of life. The art market is consolidated, and the artist no longer works exclusively for the nobility or the bourgeoisie, but begins to commercialize their work through galleries, shops, exhibitions or merchants.
“A painter is a man who paints what he sells. An artist, however, is a man who sells what he paints”, he said, Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential avant-garde artists. The acquisition of vanguard historical in the 20th Century is of great importance to the history of collecting. He begins to introduce the art “modern” as a cornerstone of public and private collections, and the incidence of collectors in the process of adapting towards the parameters of aesthetic renovation is paramount. A modern taste progressively forms within the formalist theories of art that take the new works to museums. Collectors are betting on a new cutting edge concept.
The art collecting of the 21st Century
In the current art market, value of a piece is marked by the offer, ultimately what someone is willing to pay. There is no limit to the prices or a tight control within the art market. The rules are blurred, and the prices are governed by the supply and demand. New collectors often are left to guide both gallery owners as well as by other agents that are inclined to purchase a new work.
The typology of collector as mentioned at the beginning is very diverse, and we can point to at least four different types. First, the veteran collector, over 60 years and with an interest in the art world that goes back to his youth. They are collectors who often opt for classical painting and acquire works of great quality. A second type is one that is based on specialist collectors with a high cultural level. His interest leads them to become experts in the field of their own collection.
A third group younger, between 30 and 45 years, is making art in a supplement in their lifestyle. Usually acquire objects and leave latest trend and allow themselves to be advised by better experts. Finally, we came across a group we might call, “neophyte”; these are young people, who start collecting at the age of 25, with modest purchase of works ranging from classical to more contemporary art. However, within each of the profiles we can find different motivations that lead to each individual to the collectors, for aesthetic reasons, which seek social prestige or merely speculative. All this range leads to the collecting of contemporary art is in constant motion. The great museums of today are the result of the collecting passion that was developed during all previous centuries.
“Gurus” of the art collecting
Good part of the largest art collectors globally are the Americans closely followed by the Europeans. Among those in the European continent, one of the most influential collectors is the French businessman, Francois Pinault, with a collection of over 2,500 works from artists, such as Picasso and Miró, exposed at the Palazzo Grasii in Venice.
The U.S. ranking is led by Eli Broad, considered by many of the collectors with the best selection of art today. Since 1984, the Broad Art Foundation manages an “art gallery on a loan” that is active in over 400 museums and galleries located throughout the world. In addition, to the betting on large, modern and impressionist pieces, they are among the most valued Cohen and Rales. Another of the most important collectors at a worldwide level is the Russian, Roman Abramovich, who since 2008, houses one of the most important collections of modern and contemporary art. Among the Spanish, stands out collections such as Juan Abelló, Plácido Arango, Alicia Koplowitz, José Luis Várez Fisa, and Pilar Citoler.