By Amy Nelder, February 2015

Collecting itself is an art. What do you love? Why are you looking? What does the art you love DO for you? Recent studies have shown that when people visit an art gallery, their levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, actually decreases.  How does your heart rate feel when you stop and stare at a piece of artwork that you love? At Chloe Gallery, we meet all kinds of collectors: first time collectors, just meeting the world of art for the first time; seasoned aficionados, searching our Blue Chip Brokerage for investment art like a Warhol, Dali, Cezanne, Chagall; fellow artists looking for inspiration through collecting the art of others…Seeing our walls through the eyes of our collectors allows us, as a gallery, to see the world of art in a different way throughout the day, every day.  And building our relationships with you and our artists is the Dakota Pratt “Cherries” on our sundae.

(left) Mickey Mouse F.S II.265 c.1981, Andy Warhol (1928-1987), screenprint on lenox board, 38"x38"
available through Chloe Gallery Blue Chip Brokerage
(right) The Beatles, Alfie Fernandes, acrylic on board, 61"x52", sold

A “collecting triangle” has existed historically between Artist, Dealer, and Collector – an interdependent and often emotional relationship that has helped to forge art history itself.  From the Medicis and the Vatican to Presidential portraiture and individuals around the world, patrons of the arts have helped artists develop themselves through collecting both new work and commissions, and the art galleries and museums of the world have made introductions between the artist and the collector that have enhanced and transformed the lives of both.

Art has grabbed people by the heart and not let go since the day the first caveman figured out how to use pigment to draw animals on the walls at Lascaux, France. The lives and identities of great patrons of art like the Medicis in Italy expanded their psychological and emotional horizons as well as their social and philanthropic identities by collecting and commissioning art for the home, art for public places, art for the grand places of worship. And much of that art and the identities of those patrons has helped form the aesthetic of our lives today.  From the way it makes your heart soar to the way it changes the entirety of your home by placing it on a single wall, a painting can change your life – but what image you love changes from eye to eye.  One person’s romance with a small limited edition print by Aldo Luongo is another person’s transfiguration with a larger abstract expressionistic piece by James C Leonard.

How heavily do you rely on the opinions of others about the art on your own walls? How much do you rely on letting yourself just trust your own opinion?  In the gallery, it is often fascinating to watch what floats collector’s boats, respectively.  We had one intriguing month when a wall of large, Hudson River School style, Ocean Quigley landscapes faced an opposite wall of large, wild, James C. Leonard abstracts, and as different as those canvases might seem on the face of them, collector after collector came in and became inspired to collect one of each.  For guest after guest, somehow, they “just went together”.

(left) Break in the Clouds (Sunlight Through the Clouds), Ocean Quigley, oil on linen, 48" x 60", $11,250
(right) Be Free, James C Leonard, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 36", $4000

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. houses some of the most important and beloved art the world over.  As a museum, the building, the curators, and the collections themselves seem to live and breathe as one big, gorgeous unit of aesthetic, of history, and of education.  But the National Gallery itself initially boiled down to the vision of a passionate single collector and his gallerist - a project of an impassioned American collector, Andrew Mellon, and his British art dealer, Baron Joseph Duveen, who introduced him to the work he loved, and who carefully helped him build his historical collection piece by piece.  In the same way many of us enter our own Chloe Gallery here and catch our breath falling in love with a piece, and feel ourselves transformed, Duveen and the art he brought to Mellon gave the Industrialist a life outside his work – “Mellon began collecting art early in his business career as a connection to something eternal (Hersh 1978)”[2]. The vision of the National Gallery came from the inspired collaboration between the three integral parts of the collecting moment many of us have experienced here at Chloe Gallery, the synergistic moment between collector, gallerist, and artist – when all three visions that need to come together do come together, and the right piece of art finds its home.  The moments we experience here, the “aha” moment when a passerby strolls into the gallery and feels a little bit of heaven in a painting, it is a sibling to the moment Andrew Mellon might have felt that sense of grace when he first saw his Raphael and his Titian; when Duveen first brought him into the breathing space of any painting or sculpture in his own collection.

Ambroise Vollard was a French art dealer, publisher, and avid collector himself.  He was responsible for Picasso’s first exhibition, and embraced, collected, and exposed many important artists from Western Art History early on in their careers – from Cezanne to Matisse to Chagall.  He was one of those dealers whose efforts helped expose the world to some of the art we most enjoy.  Where would art be without these names:  Cezanne, Matisse, Chagall, Picasso?  Vollard was a collector, but also a dealer, and one who connected great patrons to great art, supporting the artists he loved to collect by helping others to collect them too.  He collected what he loved, and he loved what he collected.

But better yet, he introduced other collectors to some of the artists that would challenge and change the art world, and change the viewers as individuals as well.  Vollard introduced the famous Stein siblings, Gertrude and Leo, to their first Chagall when the artist’s career was still shaky and he was not yet the Chagall in all caps the world knows now.  When Gertrude and Leo finally encountered a young Picasso in the same period, the artist ended up painting a portrait of Gertrude Stein, an influential American writer and artistic figurehead, that took 90 sittings and transformed the collector-model-sitter’s own writing with his Cubist influence, which she took into the structure of her language.  By the time the portrait was completed, the sitter had been transfigured for good with both the artist’s art and his process.

Let your heart be light and open, and soar with the aesthetic that embraces you. Whether it’s a peaceful Scoppettone Landscape bursting with color, or a wild black and white Abstract by Anna Walinska that lowers your cortisol and calms your breath, collect what you love and love what you collect – the value of the peace you feel and the relationship you build with your art and with yourself is priceless.  And for those of you already committed - pat yourselves on the back for collecting what you love. You make footprints in the history of art itself, and who knows who will be talking about you and your painting 200 years from today?

(left) Autumn Lane Afternoon, James Scoppettone, oil on canvas, 30" x 24", $13,000
(right) Figures in Landscape, c.1955, Anna Walinska (1906-1997), ink on paper, 24" x 18", $18,200

As always, please inquire regarding a dialogue about any of the art that inspires you featured above.  For additional details on our Blue Chip Brokerage, please ask your consultant.  We would love to tell you more.

Cheers,
Your Team at Chloe

References:

  1. Bergado, Gabe (2014), Science Shows Art Can Do Incredible Things for Your Mind and Body, http://mic.com/articles/106504/science-shows-that-art-is-having-fantastic-effects-on-our-brains-and-bodies
  2. Lubow, Arthur (2012) “An Eye for Genius: The Collections of Gertrude and Leo Stein”, Smithsonian Magazine, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/an-eye-for-genius-the-collections-of-gertrude-and-leo-stein-6210565/?no-ist=&page=2
  3. Willmann, Megan, “Mellon, Andrew W.”, Learning To Give, http://learningtogive.org/papers/paper187.html