Friday, February 22, 2008
An interesting article this. Not just an eye for a bargain Jan 31st 2008 From The Economist print edition ART addicts will gather in London next week to get their fix when Sotheby's and Christie's sell impressionists and contemporary pictures by the hundreds. Market analysts will also be watching closely. Last November, when both auction houses held the year's biggest impressionist and modern art sales in New York, Sotheby's fell well short of its estimate and Christie's did less well than hoped. Economic and financial clouds have thickened since then, and there are fewer bonuses to spend on art. But many collectors will still turn up, motivated by passion rather than money. Why do people collect, many will be asking themselves? Kenneth Clark, a British grandee in the art world of the 20th century, thought it was like asking why people fall in love: the reasons were various. This book, surveying about 130 eminent art collectors and collections since the second world war, bears him out. From banker to couturier, from civil servant to tycoon, they are a group of fascinating diversity with a wide array of tastes. Some are flamboyant, some reclusive. A surprising number come in couples. Quite a few are scions of art-collecting dynasties. Many are artists or dealers as well as collectors, and often they become friends with the artists they champion (Picasso liked to have a particularly large coterie of collectors around him). A disproportionate number are Jewish. Many collectors started buying when they were very young, some later in life, and at least one of those featured in the book not until he reached his 80s. “Great wealth is unquestionably an assistance in collecting,” says the author, who as chairman of Sotheby's British arm meets a fair number of rich individuals. But some of his subjects started off with few financial advantages. Take Dorothy and Herb Vogel, a quiet New York couple, he a post office clerk, she a librarian, who over the years acquired around 4,000 pieces of mainly minimal and conceptual art, some of which now hang in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Or consider James Hooper, whose day job was with Thames Conservancy, the body that used to manage the river in south-east England, but whose real passion was searching for tribal art in the junk shops of the Thames valley. He never went near the places where his trophies came from. Collectors try to get in before the object of their passion has been discovered by the world at large. Typically they are buying a generation ahead of the market, which explains how people of relatively modest means have managed to build up collections that have since become immensely valuable. But most of the book is about those who either started off very rich or made a fortune and then spent much of it on art: people like the Rothschilds, the Sainsburys, Peter Ludwig and Charles Saatchi in Europe, or Peggy Guggenheim, the Rockefellers, the Mellons and J. Paul Getty in America, and a few famous collectors in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. This is a glamorous, colourful and often eccentric crowd. Mr Stourton met most of them, was shown round their collections and sumptuous houses and came away with lots of excellent stories, as well as a number of insights about what makes the art world tick. Before the second world war, collectors mostly gloated over their treasures in private. These days they have more of a sense of public mission, and most of them exhibit, lend or catalogue their possessions or even give them away. As fashions in collecting since the war have swung from old masters, English 18th-century art and artefacts and 19th-century impressionists to contemporary art, some of the collectors may have had little choice: a lot of the modern stuff is too big or unwieldy to be displayed within even the grandest apartment. Are collectors just magpies, or is there something creative in the act of collecting itself? Some are self-confessed omnivores, others become deeply knowledgeable about their chosen field and exercise great taste and discipline in putting their collections together. But many feel, as Henri Focillon, an art historian, once put it, that the collector creates “from the genius of others a nectar which belongs to him alone”.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
My visit to London coincided with an awsome exhibition of Turner water colors at Tate Britain."The Hockney on Turner".I spent many happy hours there looking at the beautiful works by one of the greatest artists of 20th century.Unforgetable ,once seen.
The Tate holds the largest collection of paintings and sketches by Turner.The most famous (and controversial) prize for young artists 'The Turner Prize' is also given by the Tate.
The above is one of his most captivating paintings.'The Blue Regi' recently acquired by the gallery by public donations.
The painting's beauty has to be seen and felt to believe.How extraordinarily skilful Turner was in putting on paper what he felt,in manipulating the colors and light on his canvas as he wished.
You see the mountain through a pearly morning mist .The simmering light of the morning star is captured so delicately and it reflects even more hauntingly over the waters of the lake.
Oh ,what a beauty!!
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
I spent many happy hours at Tate Modern this December.On an visit with Rajani I saw the latest installation by Doris Salcedo, a Colombian artist.Was rather surprised by the sight... a big long fracture on the floor of the 'turbine hall' and I was not the only one amazed.
It was an interesting sight .The artist wanted to take a swipe at Tate for turning a blind eye to the colonial art...exclusion of non European art from the commonality of the purpose of art.Tate Modern is exclusively European.
The word"Shibboleth" originates from Hebrew Bible-it seems, in the Book of Judges Chapter 12.
This word was used to distinguish one tribe from another - the defeated from the victorious for they could not pronounce the word correctly , they had no"sh"in their dialect.All those who could not pronounce the word were hunted down and exterminated.
Looks to me this installation has trivialised a weighty truth .