Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Collection Agency

I was visiting recently with an art collector. Those words should probably be entered Art Collector, since she made it quite clear to me and anyone else within earshot that she owned enough art to fill every room in her house. Plus the garage, and I am not kidding. She was preparing to anoint me the next artist in her "collection". So why am I not thrilled?

Years ago she explained to me that she had so much artwork some of it ended up in her garage. She was wealthy beyond reason, and decided to become an art collector. Guess that beat collecting salt and pepper shakers. To help her regain her home she hired a "stager", a person who sort of re-decorates your house with stuff you already own. Along with rearranging some furniture, Stager Person pulled a ton of artwork off the walls and stored it away. The house is magazine ready, but stacks of collected art lay under beds, in the laundry room and yes, out in the garage. What got left matched the furniture.

So here's how she announces her intention: " I'm going to buy a small piece, it'll be easier to find a place to squeeze it in". Squeeze it in? Where is she going to put it? Behind the cereal boxes and left of the condiments in the kitchen cupboard? Between the fridge and the wall? Or out in the shed just behind the weed whacker? I mean, I'm honored that she wants the painting, and the money will be nice. But what of her feelings toward the painting. Does she love it as much as I do or is she a serial collector who has no feelings for what she collects, and just wants more. Maybe for her, buying art beats collecting china dolls with big creepy eyes.

I don't want to let her have this painting. She doesn't really love it, she just wants it because she can. The dilemna is: am I painting to sell, or painting to show? Do I give every potential buyer a personality test so that I know they're worthy of owning a painting of mine? How does any artist know how their artwork will be treated once it leaves their possession?

Should it matter?


Patricia said...

For some reason, Lynne couldn't get her post to work, so I'll send it in for her. Her words:
"Holy Cow. I am shaking my head as this really odd situation alsmost difies sensible response. This is SO interesting to hear because I realized recently that I sort of "end Cycle' pon my work when it is done, NOT when it is sold which is what I really need it to be.
All things considered, I think you have to feel you are in sync with your integrity on this one. Sell it or not as it feels right to you.
Otherwise, it wll just tie up a certain amount of stuck attention and no artist needs that. If y ou do sell it to her, then at least make that decision from a cause point of view, not effect (Like I need the money sort of thing). Then you will be able to let it go.
Hope this helps.

Mavis said...

Hey, Patricia:

You've really hit an ethical snag with this one.

Here's my six or eight or ten cents' worth...

IMHO: If you really held out for the best adoptive homes for your babies, you'd wind up with an archive of your own work. (I know!)

Also: Could you stand the pain of thinking about where your painting is being displayed in that magazine-perfect home?

Also: Would it make you feel better if you can ascertain what this collector wants to do with the piece? (Perhaps it's intended as a gift for her nephew-the-lawyer, who will proudly display it in his office and give you great word-of-mouth sales!)

Also: Although your artwork is not a puppy you are releasing to a potentially abusive situation, your reputation IS a living thing. If you are concerned about the possibility that the work might be displayed in a way that reflects badly on your reputation, then you need to feel positive about the sale.

However, think of all the masterpiece paintings that are auctioned off for huge bucks from somebody's attic!


Some grist for the mill!

Patricia said...

Excellent thoughts. The fact of the matter is, she'll buy it. I'll gladly take her check. I mean, really, I'm not going to do a background check on each and every person who is interested in my work.
It's just the glare of real life that was a bit disconcerting. We artists provide merchandise, just like mittens and car parts. If the widget fits, it enters the world of commerce. If it doesn't, no hard feelings. No hard feelings either way.

Lynne said...

Let's see if I can get a comment on here now!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely profound! I've never even thought of such an issue.So interesting tho.