Last night I attended another event that discussed art collecting in London. I will not quote who organized it for respect to the wider politics of the art world, but I will say that I came out feeling entirely puzzled by the industry I am currently working in. The recurrent theme that I heard in my head throughout the evening was: ‘Most collectors have no taste and I am here as a taste-maker guiding them through.’
I truly respect the idea of experts and expertise. Within my own daily, professional routine, I have a business coach, a lawyer, a team with multiple skills and an accountant. I turn to all these people regularly for their expertise and am grateful that they complete mine. By expertise, I mean that they are knowledgeable and skillful in their field.
I do feel like an expert myself. After my many years working 18 hour days in the emerging art market, I am able to guide people towards quality, emerging artists and art. I am able to explain why these choices feel right within the wider international, emerging market. This is simply down to my knowledge and experience – my team reviews over 100 artist portfolios every month, looks at four to five collections per week and we are in continuous conversation with art professionals on the ground. This gives us a very strong insight into the market we work in.
This is why the idea of imposed taste puzzles me. Better taste implies superiority, and an inborn one at that. Most of my collectors are incredibly successful businessmen and women, have been free agents for a very long time and have succeeded by creating and following their own decisions. What I can do best is feed their desire to learn by exposing them to the emerging art market while feeding them with knowledge and sharing my experiences.
What I cannot do is decide for them.
This is why I believe most of these new art businesses are currently struggling to sell to the new wave of collectors. If you go to these online platforms, you are told that you know nothing and won’t be able to understand anything: This is why you need them.
The art world is, once again, interpreting collecting in a very old fashioned manner: Governing by exploiting ignorance. I believe in the exact opposite: I want to inform and educate my collectors in the field and once they are informed I want them to collect the works of our artists because they have found them to be the most inspiring. To choose them not because they are the only artists they can access, but instead because these collectors have realized, while being exposed to the field, that each has very strong technique, content and vision.
I wanted the Haute Living readers to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth: Nicolas Barnabe, French collector based in Paris:
I think I’ve always been attracted by Art and Artists. First from books and museum, then from galleries and Art Fairs.
Art is a good reason to travel abroad, to go and see shows, meet Artists, attend vernissages…
I’ve been lucky enough to deal with artists such as Ultraviolet from the Warhol factory: Pop Art and Andy Warhol, in particular, have seized me and changed my ways of doing, seeing and working. I waited nearly 20 years to buy my first Warhol through one of my favourite art dealers in NYC.
I need a close relation with a dealer, to be in complete trust with people who are not only seller, but passionate about the art.
I started collecting pieces as soon as I got my first wages. Sometimes I spent too much, but I never regretted it. You don’t need to be rich to start collecting art. I found a real, signed lithograph by Shepard Fairey for only €50 and bought signed books for just few dollars, you just have to buy what you really like!
One day, after looking at new artists and trends on the internet I discovered the incredible work done by Marine Tanguy at MTArt. So, early on a Sunday morning, I contacted Marine. We developed a good relationship, exchanging thoughts on art and the digital. Then, I met her in NYC for her show.
The artwork by Scarlett Bowman that I now own from her crew of artists is one of my favorite pieces. It was my choice and my choice purely. You can’t get anything like it: It’s totally unique – yours and yours alone!
Finally, after more than 20 years of collecting art, I’m really proud of my collection. It has no doubt invaded my home, but it’s a real pleasure to be able to share the passion with my two daughters.
And this is just the beginning!
An advocate for artists since a young age, Marine managed her first gallery at age 21, opened her first art gallery in Los Angeles at age 23 and finally created her current business, MTArt, to promote the artists she believed in across the globe.