An evening packed with insights, tips, tricks and behind-the-scenes stories, the focus of this international-themed salon was “How Does A Young, Aspiring Art Collector Find His Or Her Way In The Sometimes Overwhelming International Art World?”. Given the fact that there are so many international art fairs, galleries, artists and exhibitions, it can be difficult to know where to begin. The idea behind the Young Collectors Circle Salon, hosted by journalist and writer, Sarah Meuleman, is to present the audience with insight into the art “ecosystem”: how do galleries, artists, collectors, museums, auction houses, art fairs and other participants in the art world relate to one another?
The first guest, Jeanine Hofland, shared the ins and outs of running a gallery: she focuses on an international market, with more than 70% of her sales being international. Even though Amsterdam is in a convenient geographical location, she is invested in bringing her artists to fairs like Frieze New York and Liste in Basel – even though it is expensive to participate in these fairs and extremely difficult to be selected. As well as the big international fairs, Jeanine often scouts for new artistic talent at the academies, such as the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in the Netherlands. She believes it is part of her mission as a gallery owner to simultaneously take on the role of an agency (assisting, promoting, networking) and the more known role of the mediator between the artist and art loving individuals, professional private collections, corporate collections and institutional collections world wide. One of the artists she represents is Hannah Perry, an artist who uses an assemblage of short found video works ,written and spoken word, slang language, phrases and sound clips deriving from whatever enters her life on a daily basis. By using a “cut-and-paste” style, the linearity of any kind vanishes and is swapped for a deliberate edit of confusion and messiness. The work demonstrates a strong resemblance of a street-wise attitude, referring to gender related issues, lifestyle and the influence of advertisement and branding on sub-cultures’s visual codes, and Perry’s own position on these issues.
On collecting, Jeanine adds that she really encourages people to come into her gallery, or any gallery, to look at the art and talk to the gallerist about it, even when you have no intention of buying it. Think of a gallery as free art space, where you can discover great things. Even though the image of the average gallerist may be intimidating, gallerists love talking about the art they show – and most importantly, there are no “stupid” questions.
The second guest, Alex Farrar, is a second year resident at the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten. Here, the audience learns that even though it is an absolute privilege to be in the residency program (allowing artists to have their own studio as well as access to workshops, excellent advisors and a great peer group), it is also an often lonely and difficult process. Alex has two shows on at the moment, at De Appel Arts Centre in Amsterdam and Dürst Britt & Mayhew in The Hague, called “Secondary Emotions (i)” and “(ii)”. Alex’s work playfully interrupts the context by allowing the meaning of everyday objects to depend on the viewer, the location and the duration of the presentation. The viewer enters into a relationship with the exhibited work, leading to uncertain situations with an open outcome. Alex brought one of his works to the salon that is currently part of the show in The Hague, which is an image of a single eye lash he found in his studio. Alex passionately shared more about his thought and creative process, while the front row guests from the Rijksakademie, Zara Weijers, and his gallery in The Hague, Arianne Kamsteeg, explain why they choose to work with Alex. As it turns out, Alex was rejected twice before being selected for the Rijksakademie at age 30, a time in his career where he was deemed ready by the selection committee, who choose only 25 residents out of an overwhelming 1 400 applications every year.
Collector Mark Chalmers shared many great stories about his adventures working with artists for commercial parties like Google and Nike, including having Banksy deliver a logo from a New York jail cell. Mark hosts artists whose work he loves, even ones he doesn’t know personally, in his own garage where they can stay and create work. This type of patronship is a no-brainer for Mark; as long as he has the opportunity to support artists, he will do so and he enjoys every single minute of it. Mark’s greatest pleasure in collecting is discovering new things and being surprised by them, and he’s always on the look out – whether it’s at underground clubs, on the streets or online. Mark stresses that the most important thing when you start your collection is to go out, keep an open mind, see lots of art and then to buy something that you are absolutely in love with. Alex remarked on this “it’s almost like dating – you have to sit through a lot of bad dates, but when you find the one, you’ll know it”.
The final guest, Sasha Stone from Sotheby’s, explained to the audience how the secondary market works. The primary art market refers to when a new artwork comes to the market for the first time at a gallery or any other art exhibition, and the price for the artwork is established for the first time. The auction houses, like Sotheby’s, operate in the secondary market: when a purchaser, whether a collector, a business, a foundation or a dealer, decide to sell it, an artwork enters the secondary market. Sotheby’s no longer has an auction house in Amsterdam, but they do have an office from where they serve both collectors interested in acquiring art as well as sellers that want to put their works up for auction. To cater to the starting collector, Sotheby’s has started hosting special auctions, for instance the “Contemporary Curated” auction that was held in London on March 16 – where both big names and up-and-coming artists were auctioned and the prices were accessible. The auction was also organized in cooperation with the fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu.
The recurring sentiment of the night: art is personal. An artists work is obviously highly personal, but so is his relationship to the people who collect his art and his gallery. It is extremely important for a gallerist to truly like and connect with the artists they represent and vice versa. Since they work so closely together to shape the artist’s career, they can only succeed if they completely trust and respect one another. For a collector, his or hers artworks are a reflection of that person’s taste, personality and interests, and he often engages in personal relationships with the artists he collects. So if you stumble upon an artwork you really really like, whether it is at an academy, a gallery, an auction or online, get to know more about the artist, make it personal, and don’t be afraid to fall in love!