art collecting, the 21st century way

“Of course, collecting is more than just buying objects. It is a disease with no known cure.”  -Guy Trebay, for the New York Times, on Eli Broad and art collecting.

Is art collecting a disease? That’s a bit hyperbolic. An obsession? Maybe. An adventure? Absolutely. Potentially heartbreaking? That too. If art collecting is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

francesca woodman photo of sloane and the sun

Nowadays there are a ton of ways to go about collecting art. You’ve still got your high-end galleries, your mega art fairs and your offshoot fairs, and within the last few years, a whole slew of art and e-commerce startups have emerged for purchasing art online. There’s Artspace, which cleverly partners with art museums and galleries to give their back storage a second chance to make it on a collector’s wall. (And it is an impressive roster of artists–Richard Tuttle, Jenny Holzer, Tomma Abts–can you guess my aesthetic?). Then there’s Paddle8, run by an ambitious group of former auction house employees, as an invite-only website featuring online exhibitions curated  by artists like Marina Abramovic. Upping the ante, last month they partnered with Nada Art Fair in Miami, giving collectors early access to works being sold at the fair. The galleries who listed their works on Nada Art Fair must have done well, as rumour has it there are more art fair partnerships to come for Paddle8. (This could be very exciting, and throws a whole other wrench in the regular red-dot-but-has-it-truly-sold art fair scandal. So much drama.)

Catering to a markedly different audience is Artsicle, which has taken the “Netflix approach” to renting art online, (generally by young MFA’s), while the mega-invested and much buzzed about has linked up with some pretty heavyweight galleries (museums are next), and is attempting to classify art into genes and help users discover their tastes, and link up to galleries where they might actually purchase a work that suits them. (An ambitious project that if pulled off is really going to be something extraordinary, for collectors, novices, educators, and students alike.) The collecting landscape is changing, but you know what hasn’t changed yet? The delivery. Remember back in October when I mentioned that Francesca Woodman I’d purchased at FIAC? Well, that photograph has gotten a lot of mileage since then, from London, to Paris, to London again, to some regional office in the US of A, and finally to me in NY. Yes, yes, dear readers, I am happy to say that after some shipping delays and snags at customs, my photograph has finally arrived. Color me excited. Now I just have to decide where to hang it, but that, my friends, is a challenge I am very much looking forward to facing.