Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Report from the Phantom Zone

Our toys were our first art collections.

I still have all of my Star Wars figures, lined-up in their “Action Display Stand” just the way I liked to show them when I was 8 years old. They are now and always have been more than just toys, they were sculptures and even today I talk with my friends about the quality of the toys that are manufactured today. Have you seen Todd McFarlane's line of Spawn figures? They are nothing short of awesome toys/sculptures.

My toys were the first things I ever collected, but I as my taste in art collecting expanded, I quickly went from collecting sculpture to collecting works on paper.
You know - comics. I still have my comic collection, tagged and bagged. Ready for future generations to enjoy. I guess …

Like all collectors, I don’t really know why I have a comic collection or what I plan on doing with it. I just love it and have no intention of ever getting rid of it.

It’s strange that we all start off with an art collection that we love; yet art collectors seem to be a rare group of people. Art collectors are the coveted sales demographic of most galleries and the people that museums hope will eventually donate their collections. Why are there so few of them and why do they collect? I have no idea, but most artists don’t even seem to know who the major art collectors are. Here’s a quick list of some people who collect in Boston:

Barbara and Ted Alfond gave the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston $10 million dollars and they have an extensive collection of American art.

Barbara Lee’s Family Foundation supports all of contemporary art in Boston and has a renowned collection of contemporary art.

Scott Black’s collection has been shown at the MFA and he has given lots of advice on how other people can have art collections.

Graham and Ann Gund have collection of art that has also shown at the MFA and they funded the Graham Gund Gallery.

I’m sure there are others, but really, these few are some of the most prominent that have been included in Art News’ top 200 collectors.

So why aren’t there more? True, not everyone has millions of dollars to collect the most expensive pieces, but most art does not cost millions of dollars. Most art is well within the reach of many people, even in a depressed economy. So why are there so few collectors? It seems that people believe that collecting is something we only do as children. We are taught when we are in our early teens that we should stop collecting things and put all of our focus on social interactions, like who is dating who, etc. Why is idol gossip worth our time and money, but wanting a fantastic collection of art is so unusual?

I think as artists we should be interested in collectors not just because we want them to collect our work, but because having a collection is interesting and something we can all relate to, even if it is on a small scale. Artists currently don’t have a lot of opportunity to talk with collectors directly because of the gallery system that keeps us separated. This is probably with good reason, because most artists want collectors to buy their work and don’t show actual, respectful interest in the collector or their collection. They just start pitching their own work in a gauche manner that drives everyone away. Ironically, if everyone showed collectors the same honest interest they would show someone who has a collection of really great comics, maybe we would be allowed to meet more collectors!

I would love to meet more collectors and see their collection. Not to pitch my art, but because I love to look at art and would love to see what items other people consider worthy of adding to their collection. So if you are a collector, please leave a comment because I really would love to see your collection and talk to you about it. If you want I may even let you see my collection of comics, it’s modest, but I love it …

“Action Display Stand”

A McFarlane toy/sculpture

"Works on Paper" collection


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