With Unseen Amsterdam opening its doors in two days, it was time to talk about (collecting) photography at the ninth edition of Young Collectors Circle Salon. The guests talked about, amongst other things, their personal vision on photography, what they look for in a good photograph, and were also asked to share some tips about collecting photography.
The first guest was gallery owner Caroline O’Breen. Caroline represents a lot of emerging artists who are using photography as a medium. For her, the conceptual vision and visual attraction play a big role in appreciating an artwork. Caroline advises all collectors out there to start conversations with gallery owners (“That’s what we are here for; I personally love to talk about the artists I represent!”). Another tip Caroline shared is that art in The Netherlands is priced lower than in most countries – so take advantage of that!
The second guest this evening was Martijn van den Broek, head of collections at the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam. He explained that the Fotomuseum consists of two departments: the art collection and the photo archive.
The archive consists of large quantities of photographs and other materials: not only conserving the individual items, but also keeping the body of work of photographers in one place. The Fotomuseum presents these images to the public in presentations, but also makes photo books and special edition prints. In doing so, the Fotomuseum makes photography more accessible and affordable for everyone.
Regarding the collection, Martijn explains how the Fotomuseum’s collection isn’t necessarily built solely on art photography, but also includes fashion, sports, newspaper and commercial photography. However, it devotes most of its attention to Dutch photographers and continues to grow with a focus mainly art photography. Martijns’ personal favorite section is amateur photography – he even brought some examples of some (very old) picture frames with the photos he loves most.
Martijn recommends mixing your collection with vintage finds from flea markets or auctions. Investing in photo books is also a great way to start collecting at a lower price point, as well as a great way to explore an artist’s work more in-depth and learn about photography in general.
The next guest was artist Pieter Paul Pothoven. His work is shown at Unseen Amsterdam at his gallery Dürst Britt & Mayhew. Pieter Paul is very satisfied with the work his gallery is doing for him, even though he jokes the primary reason he works with a gallery is for storage. For Pieter, the work his gallery does means he’s able to reach out to a larger target audience, whilst not having to worry about sales and marketing. He even considers them to be his friends at this point. Pieter Pauls’ artworks go beyond the single image that is the final product. The research that goes into his series and the story behind it are incredibly important in fully understanding and appreciating his work.
The last guest was Frederieke Sanders-van Traa. Frederieke was born into a family of art collectors: her grandfather bought two Mondrians to support him in a time when, the now world famous artist, was too poor to buy materials – or food for that matter. Frederieke’s parents are collectors as well; they exhibited their impressive collection, with early works from artists like Gilbert & George and Cindy Sherman, at the Stedelijk Museum a few years ago.
The reason for collecting art was very simple for Frederieke. “It is simply about greed: the feeling is similar to wanting a dress you really love. Collecting comes with a great excitement that makes you want more”. Frederieke doesn’t care for big names, but instead chooses works that touch her. She encourages the young collectors present to look at art as much as they can: in museums, galleries, auctions and online.
Frederieke has a very strong opinion about buying art as an investment. She thinks it is disgusting and it ruins the market. In her opinion, collecting should be about passion. However, having said that, Frederieke is not afraid to negotiate: “I play hardball when it come to that: I like a good deal!”
A lot of tips and inside information were shared this evening. The overall advice for young collectors on buying photography is to see as much as possible and to not be afraid to buy work that you love – whether it’s a €10 photo at a flea market or a more expensive piece at an art fair.