The Art of Collecting

This Art Fair meets four art collections

In November almost half of the participants of This Art Fair visited four extraordinary art collections. Ranging from one of the largest corporate collections in the Netherlands to perhaps the youngest collecting couple in Amsterdam – four art collectors warmly opened their homes, offices and exhibitions to share with us how they perceive and collect art.

In their petite apartment collectors Nick and Julia showed some of the jewels in their growing collection: a stunning piece by Cheng Ran, an intriguing photo by Anouk Kruithof, and a letter by Danh Vo. Nick and Julia told us how a work can grab you by the throat; how, if you really love something and need to have it, this might mean you don’t go out, don’t go on holidays and shop more consciously. But as a result, you do end up with an interesting art collection in your early twenties.

We also experienced how more established private collections come about: we visited a stunning newly built structure that houses an impressive collection. Within this group exhibition, consisting of works by Olafur Eliasson, Mohau Modisakeng, and Lisa Oppenheim, amongst others, and with a similar enthusiasm as Nick and Julia’s, we were told all about these works. The stunning series by Modisakeng for example, capturing a performance in which he discusses several discourses related to the political economy of the racial segregation, institutionalised/systemic racism, militarisation, and civil unrest of apartheid. It became clear that even after seeing art all over the world, purchasing a piece of art is still all about chemistry. And it remains an exciting thing to do.

Other participants visited the Kemna Collection at Huize Frankendael. In this historic villa, Hans Kemna exhibited works from his photography collection: a diverse collection consisting of still lives, landscapes, portraits and female nudes. Even though Kemna is intrigued by the maker and the story behind a photo, he usually falls for a work without knowing its context. Through collecting multiple works of the same photographers and building a relationship with the artist, Kemna has developed a collection that is both broad and layered, and also manages to support talented artists in their careers.

The ING Collection, unlike private collections that are predominantly seen and enjoyed by their owners, is visible also to employees and visitors. It is more than mere decoration or prestige; it forms an inspiration for thousands of people that are surrounded by these artworks. Over the years the ING collection has been formed by focusing predominantly on local and figurative art. Today, the young and ambitious curators of the collection are finding ways to broaden the interpretation of these themes: focusing on young and talented photographers and more conceptual artists, they aim to connect the Dutch collection with their international subcollections.

It has been a pleasure to visit these four collections, and as we look back on our inspiring visits, one thought stands out. Four different collections lead to one clear message: collecting art starts in the heart.

(Jeroen Hermkens. Amsterdam, Beursplein)