Amsterdam's Young Collectors Circle series "Art of Collecting" brings to light the personal relationships between a collector and their favorite artwork.
Amsterdam based collector Katja Weitering shares her connection to a work by Pipilotti Rist as well as speaking about her own collection and her initial reluctance to sell.
Katja Weitering heads the project office of the Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht. She lives in Amsterdam with her husband Stefan and their two children Eli and Ada.
“This photograph is by Pipilotti Rist and is titled “Sunrise-Switzerland”. It was love at first sight. The tranquil picture of that glowing hand immediately appealed to me, and over these years – I bought it in 2003 – that hasn’t changed. It’s hard to explain the attraction. The chemistry you feel with an artwork can evolve in different ways – sometimes it’s an acquired taste by getting to know the philosophy of the artist or their creative process you can learn to appreciate it. And sometimes it’s love at first sight. The latter happened to me with this photograph by Rist, a Swiss artist.
I already knew her work; I’d seen it at a major retrospective in Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, for example. I know very little about the origins of this particular picture; it’s a still from a video by Rist. But that doesn’t matter in this case, because the image has a strong personal significance to me. I see collecting art as a way to collect moments from your life as well – acquiring a work of art often marks a particular stage or event in your personal development. Therefore, I think certain pieces stay with you your entire life. They form a kind of “album” that you can browse through.
This was the first work of art I acquired at an auction. I bought it at Glerum, which is now AAG. I’d bought work from a gallery before, but at an auction there’s little room for negotiation and there are almost always rivals in the shape of other bidders. To protect myself I placed an absentee bid as that way I couldn’t exceed the maximum amount I wanted to pay. You also have to take into account a buyer’s premium – the amount that is added to the actual hammer price. When you place an absentee bid, the auctioneer bids on your behalf during the auction. I got quite a shock when I received the message that I’d actually acquired the photograph! Because you bid in writing, the process feels a bit more detached, but I would definitely encourage novice collectors to experiment with it.”
The chemistry you feel with an artwork can evolve in different ways – sometimes it’s an acquired taste by getting to know the philosophy of the artist or their creative process you can learn to appreciate it. And sometimes it’s love at first sight.
“I don’t collect with a certain concept or underlying objective in mind. I have a loose collection of artworks that mean something to me personally, or have a certain symbolic significance. I have a painting by material master Bram Bogart, for example, who belonged to the post-war generation of expressionist artists. I once curated an exhibition of his art and was impressed by his work as well as by the radical stance he took as a painter, completely against the zeitgeist. Another artist who’s important to me is JCJ van der Heyden, also from the post-war generation. I admire the simplicity and conceptual power of his work. Because my financial resources were limited at the time, I could only afford a tiny painting of 4 x 12 cm from JCJ van der Heyden. My friends couldn’t stop laughing, that much money for such a small artwork. But to this day, the painting is still one of the greatest works in my modest collection. I also own pieces by Rob Voerman, Johannes Schwartz, Eva Schwab and Gerald van der Kaap. My latest acquisition is a ceramic mask by Jennifer Tee, which was another case of love at first sight. I like to combine artists from different generations and works created in different mediums. This creates unexpected connections and unintentional conversations between works of art.
I don’t collect according to a specific theme. It’s a personal collection, based on whether a work of art appeals to me. I don’t consciously go looking for new pieces, I let them find me. When I visit a fair or gallery, I am always curious. Everything starts with seeing, how does an artwork present itself to you – it’s a game with your eyes. If money wasn’t an object, I would choose work from one of the grand dames of art, a piece by independent textile artist Sheila Hicks and a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth.
Art adds spirit to a home. In between all the madness and frenzy of everyday life, works of art create a kind of alternate dimension within your own environment. They require attention and time. They make you laugh and invite reflection. Like friends, but the kind that don’t say anything back!
I once sold a photograph via Sotheby’s. I hesitated for a long time as after all, you collect to keep. It felt like a kind of betrayal of the piece, but it’s also wonderful if a work of art can circulate again and that you can create room for new pieces in your own collection. In this case it was a fragile photograph that wasn’t framed behind glass and I worried about the condition of the piece in my home. The value of the photograph had also gone up significantly since I purchased it. I noticed that I didn’t hang the photograph anymore and couldn’t find a good spot for it and so that valuable work of art suddenly became a burden. Sotheby’s provided good advice and the photograph was auctioned in London, which I could watch via a live stream: a curious experience! I hope that someone else now enjoys the piece. I invested part of the proceeds in totally trivial things, like a car. That’s a sharp contrast with something as timeless as a work of art. I also spend some on a beautiful suit by Kenzo as I love fashion and that is also timeless.”
I once sold a photograph via Sotheby’s. I hesitated for a long time as after all, you collect to keep. It felt like a kind of betrayal of the piece, but it’s also wonderful if a work of art can circulate again and that you can create room for new pieces in your own collection.
Tips & Tricks
“Explore a broad spectrum of the market, visit auction houses and the studios of the artists as well as galleries. Meet artists and talk to them. Think of collecting as a game, a voyage of discovery and an exploration. Don’t make it too serious, have fun and allow yourself to be surprised.”