A new collector shares her story

by leslierankowfinearts

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IT IS ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO BE INTRODUCED TO NEW CLIENTS NOT ONLY FOR THE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY  BUT ALSO BECAUSE IT IS MY FORM OF CREATIVITY  TO THINK ABOUT THE ARTISTS TO PRESENT TO THEM AND THE DIRECTION  THAT THEIR COLLECTION SHOULD TAKE THAT WOULD BEST SUIT THEM.  ON OCCASION, A CLIENT IS REFERRED TO ME BY THEIR DESIGNER OR ARCHITECT AND SOMETIMES THE PROJECT IS SPECIFIC SOLELY  TO THE PREREQUISITES OF A NEW RESIDENCE. IN MANY INSTANCES, HAPPILY, THAT INTRODUCTION SPARKS A REAL COLLECTING PASSION AND COMMITMENT AND THE CLIENTS BECOME COLLECTORS –  AND THEN I AM IN ART DEALER HEAVEN.

SUCH IS THE CASE WITH A TERRIFIC COUPLE WITH WHOM I WORKED INITIALLY TO IDENTIFY A GROUP OF PAINTINGS BY YOUNGER ARTISTS TO ENLIVEN A SPECTACULAR VACATION ISLAND RESIDENCE THAT THEY HAD PURCHASED. THEIR ACQUISITIONS FOR THAT PROJECT INCLUDE A SERIES OF WORKS BY A SOPHISTICATED BRITISH MINIMALIST  PAINTER, CALLUM INNES, WHOSE WORK I HAVE ALWAYS ADMIRED,  AND THEIR RESPONSE TO HIS WORK GAVE ME A SENSE OF THEIR TASTE AND OPENNESS TO COLLECTING.

SINCE THEN, I HAVE HAD THE PLEASURE OF VISITING GALLERIES AND ART FAIRS WITH THEM, AS WELL AS  PREVIEWING AND BIDDING AT AUCTION. I APPRECIATE THEIR COMMITMENT TO LEARNING ABOUT CONTEMPORARY AND MODERN ART AND ENTHUSIASM FOR WORKS THAT ARE BOTH BEAUTIFUL AND CHALLENGING. DIANE (YES, NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED….) HAS GENEROUSLY AGREED TO AN INTERVIEW IN THE LRFA BLOG.   I AM ALWAYS VERY INTERESTED IN HOW AND WHY PEOPLE COLLECT – AM I STATING THE OBVIOUS? AND THOUGHT YOU ALL MIGHT SHARE MY CURIOSITY.

D, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS.

WHAT PROMPTED YOU AND ‘BILL’ TO ACQUIRE YOUR FIRST ARTWORKS AND WHAT WERE THEY?

We both were interested in collecting and didn’t know where to start. One day we had some time before an event in NY and were walking around Soho. We stopped in at a gallery and ended up buying a piece that we had both instantly liked.  It was thrilling for us.

I KNOW THAT TWO SMALL LANDSCAPES THAT WERE INITIAL PURCHASES THAT WE CLEANED AND REFRAMED EVOKE THE OLD WORLD GERMANY THAT IS YOUR FAMILY BACKGROUND.  HOW IMPORTANT IS FAMILY AND TRADITION TO YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND IN TERMS OF RESPONDING TO ART?  DID YOUR RESPONSE TO THESE LANDSCAPES REPRESENT A PERSONAL RATHER THAN OBJECTIVE IMPULSE?

My mother loves to paint and took me to museums as a child.  She always wanted me to know who the great masters were.  I love those paintings. I love the old world scene- it reminds me of a scene from a Dickens book.  I also love the oil technique and the detail of the animals and styles of the houses.

I DIDN’T KNOW YOUR MOTHER PAINTED! MY GRANDMOTHER DID AS WELL, LATE IN LIFE, AND TURNED OUT SOME REMARKABLY ACCEPTABLE STILL LIFES. WHEN YOU WENT TO MUSEUMS AS A CHILD WERE YOU ATTRACTED TO A PARTICULAR AREA OF ART? WAS IT OLD MASTER PAINTINGS, FOR EXAMPLE, OR “PRETTY” IMPRESSIONIST RENOIR AND DEGAS OILS?

I think both of us were drawn to the Impressionists at the start– I can’t say that I have a strong recollections of what I liked as a young child!

WHAT INSPIRED THE LEAP FROM A FEW WORKS THAT ENLIVENED THE WALLS OF YOUR VACATION HOME TO ESTABLISHING A CONTEMPORARY COLLECTION THAT INCLUDES HIRST, KAMI, UKLANSKI, JUAN USLE, TO NAME A FEW? DO YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND HAVE FRIENDS OR COLLEAGUES WHO ARE COLLECTORS AND WAS THAT AN INFLUENCE?

I think a couple of things.  The first painting certainly broke the ice.  Also, the works we bought with you for our vacation house helped.  We also bought some pieces from a small contemporary art gallery in Morristown.  All of these things helped to create a level of comfort with the language of art and working with galleries. The art world can be very intimidating, and I think that the combination of the approach that my husband and I took and your openness allowed us to step into the arena.

THANK YOU FOR THAT. ONE OF MY ABSOLUTE FUNCTIONS IS TO CREATE A BRIDGE BETWEEN THE GALLERY AND THE CLIENT SO THAT COLLECTING IS FUN AND ACCESSIBLE AND A REWARDING EXPERIENCE.

In terms of moving into a contemporary direction, our very modern house gave us a taste of the approachable.  We like the contemporary artists and I think that we feel it was approachable.

IN THE NEXT BLOG, D.  WILL SHARE WITH US SOME OF THE CONCERNS AND TRIUMPHS OF THE FIRST ROUND OF COLLECTING THAT SHE AND HER HUSBAND BEGAN AS THEIR SPECTACULAR NEW HOUSE WAS IN THE WORKS.  THEY WERE GREAT- WAREHOUSING WORKS IN ANTICIPATION OF THE COMPLETION OF THE HOUSE, BUYING A WORK SIGHT UNSEEN FROM A LONDON GALLERY AFTER WE EXPLORED THIS ARTIST’S WORK AT THE ARMORY SHOW. THESE LEAPS OF FAITH AND ENTHUSIASM ARE EVERYTHING THAT MAKES MY SIDE OF THE EXPERIENCE REWARDING AND, IN THE END, THE BEST COLLECTIONS ARE FORMED BY CLIENTS WITH A WARRIOR SPIRIT, EXPLORING, INVESTIGATING AND ABSORBING THE ART WORLD AND  ART MARKET.

UNTIL THEN, THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING AND YOUR COMMENTS.  I WOULD WELCOME ANY QUESTIONS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO POSE TO EITHER ME OR MY CLIENT, ABOUT STARTING A COLLECTION, FORMING ONE’S EYE AND AESTHETIC JUDGMENT, OR ANY OTHER CONCERNS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE.

FIRE AWAY!