Last night Whitney Contemporaries Salon hosted a panel discussion on building a personal collection. But when Wall Street Money isn’t in the picture, how can young patrons break into the often unnerving arena of art collecting? Led by assistant curator and Contemporaries liaison Elisabeth Sherman, panel members Anne Huntington, founder of AMH Industries and member of New Arts Dealers Alliance, Mo Koyfman of Spark Capital, and art advisor Molly Epstein engaged in a passionate and practical discussion about how to buy and collect art at any level.
Accessibility to art and artists in the Internet age was a major theme throughout the evening, with each panel member stressing the importance of taking advantage of publicly accessible resources. Instagram, open studios (with special mention of Bushwick Open Studios) and individual studio visits provide collectors and art enthusiasts the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with artists, breaking down barriers across platforms. Proclaimed by Koyfman as one of the most influential means of democratizing the art world, it was unanimously agreed amongst the speakers that a young collector’s best friend is the Internet.
Even with the opportunities provided by Social Media to engage with art and artists, however, the looming atmosphere of exclusivity persists as a detractor for inexperienced art buyers. This is an aspect of the industry that takes time to overcome as relationships are built with artists, advisors and gallerists. The takeaway advice for this somewhat controversial topic was to dedicate time to your passion – and if that’s art buying or collecting, it means going to openings, art fairs and visiting galleries and asking questions.
The importance of research and enthusiasm in beginning a collection was at the forefront of each speaker’s closing insight. Put simply by Huntington, the best way to start is to see out what you like, figure out your budget and dive in, whether purchasing through auction, a gallery or an advisor. Epstein’s art advising background brought an insider’s perspective to the industry, acknowledging that while market-consciousness is important to a certain degree, the most crucial aspect of building a truly great and enjoyable collection is the collector’s connection to the work.
Building an art collection takes time and dedication, along with a healthy dose of zeal. Whether a work is $50 or $50,000, with the proper research and vision any addition to a budding collection can be significant.