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Contemporary Collections

Contemporary Collections

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Published by Mark Calderwood
New article for Maserati magazine
New article for Maserati magazine

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Mark Calderwood on Aug 02, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Collecting contemporaryart can be an immenselyrewarding experience, butknowing where to start andwhat to buy can also bechallenging and confusing.
Mark Calderwood
stepsinto the gallery and offerssome insights on collectingcontemporary art whetherfor pleasure, profit or both
CONTEMPORARY COLLECTIONS
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IL TRIDENTE
OFF WITH HER HEAD!
2012. LINDE IVIMEY STEEL ARMATURE, IRON, WINE AND CHAMPAGNE FOILS,ACRYLIC RESIN, DYED COTTON, SILK AND ACRYLIC FIBRE,PLANT FIBRE, PIGMENT, SEED PODS, COW, SHEEP TURKEY CHICKEN AND FISH BONES, WOVEN CHICKEN VERTEBRAE,PEACOCK FEATHERS, BLACK AND WHITE PEARLSIMAGE COURTESY THE ARTIST AND MARTIN BROWNECONTEMPORARY, SYDNEY 
 
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     A     R     T     E
financial dividends over years, but realisesa desire to be involved in an exuberantindustry. And those who collect contemporaryart in particular, are people who move withthe times and appreciate what’s interestingand new.Contemporary art is dynamic, complexand breathtakingly diverse, and the art thathas emerged since the turn of this centuryis marked by a well-considered engagementwith the mentality, technology, aesthetics andphilosophy of today. It is art that speaks to theexperience of the present, and talks about oldsubjects in new ways.But it is by no means simple, or evencomfortable. The best contemporary art iseven slightly unsettling: its role in society is tochallenge our thinking.For almost two decades, many of thosechanges have been led by Antipodean artistscoming to grips with – and audaciouslyquestioning – the attitudes that uniquely
T
o the outside observer, the art worldcan seem impenetrable. A bafflingcombination of commerce, ideas andaesthetics detached from the everyday world.And for many, the art it trades in is justas perplexing. Something strange andfrightening that they are unable to understand.And to be fair, the art world did gain areputation for excess and lurid sensationalismduring the heyday of postmodernism some20 years ago. It was a period when convolutedacademic theories ruled and artists beingprovocative and obscure was what mattered.Audiences were often left hopelesslyadrift, but fortunately art isn’t what it usedto be.Contemporary art has matured well pastthis phase to achieve a new sophisticationand relevance that is proving appealingto private collectors. Collecting art is auniquely rewarding experience that notonly yields intellectual, social and perhapsShe explains that some see collecting asan intellectual pursuit, a way of learning moreabout art, whereas for others, it reflects theirappreciation of creativity and the desire tocare for and promote important work. It caneven be a trophy hunt, a confident boast of affluence, taste and style.But as Oxley notes whatever theirmotivation, those who are drawn to cutting-edge art ‘appreciate the note of strength andclarity that contemporary works strike. Theyopen up new avenues of thinking’.Before leaping into the fray, art dealersadvise seeing as much art as possible – inmuseums, commercial galleries and online –and there is a lot to take in.Contemporary art comprises a breathtakingarray of formats and techniques, with artistsharnessing every medium from hand-refinedoil pigments to digital technology that wasunimaginable a decade ago. Art now notonly means painting and sculpture, butalso photography, video and time-basedart, installation, performance, interactivetechnologies – every possible avenue forcreativity.Nor do artists tie themselves to a singleformat. Some work consistently in a singlediscipline such as Archibald prize-winningpainter Ben Quilty whose distinctive oils haveportrayed everything from crashed cars tosoldiers in Afghanistan. Or the undisputedmaster of photography Bill Henson, who usesan ‘old’ painterly aesthetic to confront youth,sexuality, ageing, love and grief in an entirelycontemporary way.But others like Patricia Piccinini rangeacross the available media according to whatexpresses their ideas best. While best knownfor her hyperreal sculptures that explorea strange biology, her practice also spanspainting, video, sound, installation and evenrecently, a hot air balloon.Between auctions, international art fairs
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IL TRIDENTE
shape our culture. International critics nowregard art produced in Australia and NewZealand to be the equal of contemporaryart made anywhere in the world, and artistslike Tracey Moffatt, Ricky Swallow andFrancis Upritchard have found remarkablesuccess overseas.And collectors are responding, as theenduring strength of the art market amidchoppy financial waters attests. Art dealersare not surprised. Owning art is no longerseen as something out of reach or elitist, buta savvy investment with unmistakable cachet.And once they start exploring contemporaryart, potential investors are surprised howquickly they are hooked.‘All kinds of people collect art, for a widevariety of reasons,’ says Roslyn Oxley, directorof Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery and agent for someof the most prominent names in contemporaryart including Bill Henson, Del Kathryn Bartonand Tracey Moffatt.
PLANTATION (DIPTYCH NO. 10)
2009. TRACEY MOFFATTFROM A SERIES OF 12 DIPTYCHSDIGITAL PRINT WITH ARCHIVAL PIGMENTS, INKAID, WATERCOLOUR PAINTAND ARCHIVAL GLUE ON HANDMADE CHAUTARA LOKTA PAPERIMAGE COURTESY THE ARTIST AND ROSLYN OXLEY9 GALLERY, SYDNEY 
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   2   0   0   8 .   P   A   T   R   I   C   I   A   P   I   C   C   I   N   I   N   I   F   I   B   R   E   G   L   A   S   S ,   A   U   T   O   M   O   T   I   V   E   P   A   I   N   T ,   L   E   A   T   H   E   R ,   S   T   E   E   L ,   P   L   A   S   T   I   C ,   T   Y   R   E   S   I   M   A   G   E   C   O   U   R   T   E   S   Y   T   H   E   A   R   T   I   S   T   A   N   D   R   O   S   L   Y   N   O   X   L   E   Y   9   G   A   L   L   E   R   Y ,   S   Y   D   N   E   Y   P   H   O   T   O   G   R   A   P   H   B   Y   G   R   A   H   A   M    B   A   R   I   N   G
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and biennales – and indecipherable jargon:digital intervention, altermodern, slow art, thenew gothic – the art market can be a confusingplace and experienced advice is essential.Aspiring collectors should source work fromleading commercial galleries that far frombeing intimidating or judgmental, ensure thatseeing art is accessible and enjoyable whilemaintaining rigorous standards. Top galleriescarefully select the artists they represent andshow only the best works by those artists.Many also offer valuation services for theirinvestors’ art portfolios.‘No one would invest tens of thousands inthe stock market without consulting a broker,’says Martin Browne, director of Martin BrowneContemporary.‘And the same goes for art. A gallerist canshare their in-depth knowledge of the artworld and offer their professional opinion tosteer you towards work with strong criteria.’Like most art dealers, Browne advises newbuyers to take it slow, and build a qualitycollection rather than a large one.‘Choosing art that represents quality takestime, education and experience. See whatis out there that appeals to your taste andbudget. It’s like learning to appreciate finefood and wine. There are no shortcuts, it takesa lot of tasting.‘Most people develop a discerning eyequite quickly, because once they start lookingat contemporary art, responding to it, andthinking about it, they understand why theyare drawn to certain genres and start to buywith greater sureness and direction.‘And then they catch the bug to collect.’Browne believes contemporary artists offera way of seeing that is sometimes startling,but rewarding. He especially admires LindeIvimey, who since her debut exhibition in 2003,has gained international recognition with herinnocent, naive, totem-like sculptures in fibre,feathers and bones.‘It’s unlike anything else in contemporaryart. It looks at things you would normallyskip away from, in a way that completelyholds you.’It pays to ask hard questions, especially if collecting with an eye to investment as wellas pleasure.‘Collectors need to plan for the long termand understand the market,’ says WilliamNuttall, director of Niagara Galleries.‘Short-term collecting does not give artiststime to mature or for their work to becomeknown and rarely returns the investment,’Nuttall says.He also cautions against buying accordingto trends.‘As soon as something is declared to behot, it’s already over. And you’re left at themercy of the market. But if you have collectedworks that will build in significance, you will bein a better position to make a profit and get agreat deal of satisfaction along the way.’A well-established profile and strongexhibition history is a good indicator of anartist’s calibre, and often the key to substantialreturns. Shaun Gladwell, globally acclaimedat the 2009 Venice Biennale for his haunting
IL TRIDENTE
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video suite
Maddestmaximvs – planetsand stars
, is a prime example. Prior to theBiennale, Gladwell made headlines whenhis poetic work
Storm Sequence
fetchedan unprecedented price for a video artworkwhen auctioned at Sotheby’s.Simeon Kronenberg, director of AnnaSchwartz Gallery Sydney, reassures that evenephemeral works like performance or digitalmedia are highly collectible.‘They are not straightforward art objectslike a painting, but formats such as limitededition DVDs or stills are produced for privatecollectors,’ he says.While art is certainly an investment,collectors and dealers agree that collectingisn’t about the money. The rewards art offersevery day go far beyond simple financialreturns. Indeed, the best and most valuablecollections are built by people so passionateabout their art they would never dreamof selling.
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   2   0   1   0   /   2   0   1   1 .   B   I   L   L   H   E   N   S   O   N   A   H   S   H   1   3   1   N   1   2   E   A   R   C   H   I   V   A   L   I   N   K   J   E   T   P   I   G   M   E   N   T   P   R   I   N   T   I   M   A   G   E   C   O   U   R   T   E   S   Y   T   H   E   A   R   T   I   S   T   A   N   D   R   O   S   L   Y   N   O   X   L   E   Y   9   G   A   L   L   E   R   Y ,   S   Y   D   N   E   Y
INTERCEPTOR SURF SEQUENCE 
2009. SHAUN GLADWELL2-CHANNEL, HD VIDEO,16:9, SILENT, 27:42 MINUTESCINEMATOGRAPHY: GOTARO UEMATSUPRODUCTION STILL IMAGE: JOSH RAYMOND.IMAGE COURTESY THE ARTIST AND ANNA SCHWARTZGALLERY, SYDNEY 

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