Why Collect Now: A Pandemic Perspective

June 2020
June 1, 2020
Why Collect Now: A Pandemic Perspective


Over the last two months, I have gotten calls from several clients asking me where I think the art market will be when this pandemic is over.  I always pause, and in that space they usually go on to say they expect it will be where the stock market is…that is, 15-20% lower in terms of values.


This is, of course, an impossible question to answer, but it opens a door to the real question…which is NOT “what is my collection worth to others” (after all a market is just an assessment of what others collectively agree something is worth), BUT what is my collection worth to me?


No doubt this period has been filled with attempts to find things that bring us joy…activities that take us away from the fear and uncertainty that hold us tight in their grasp.  I have spoken to many people who are spending more time in nature, or picking up an old or neglected hobby, or learning a new one.  I recently pulled out a book of recipes that has been sitting dusty on a shelf for years and made a wonderful dinner with my daughter.  We now make a new one every week. Almost everyone I bet has taken some extra time to check in with themselves to see what they need in the moment, and we have also given ourselves space to indulge that need. Without so many of the things that are common to our everyday experience, our choices are fewer and more deliberate.


Why does it feel that indulging in things that bring us joy is an escape? 


Why isn’t finding the things that excite us and bring us joy part of our path rather than the exception, the distraction?


What happens when we buy a work of art?  Are we making an investment in a marketplace?  Are we also making an investment in the artist who produced it?  Are we listening to that part of us that was attracted to that particular work of brilliance and committing to that response?


I think when we collect art we are making an investment in ourselves.


Does the writer or artist create for the marketplace or to satisfy a need to be heard, to bring out and share what is within?  Why do our responses have to be any different?  Why do we have to buy always with an eye to the marketplace and how it will be received by others who do not share our particular joy? 


So, I would like to explore these questions with you:  Why Do We Collect? What Does It Mean To Collect?  Why Collect Now?



Eric Phleger, 14. July 2020
Hi Aaron,
I'm glad you created this new interactive site. Having been an art dealer and a collector I have thought much about what it means to collect art. Although everyone has different reasons for collecting art, we all realize that we are acquiring something which has no function other than to be looked at, contemplated and interacted with on some level. Those who buy art and wrap it up and put it in storage, waiting for its value to increase are missing and opportunity to do what i just mentioned. I think collecting art and living with it gives us an opportunity to get to know ourselves and the world we live in better. How does what we are acquiring relate to the world historically or otherwise? Why are we making the decision and what does it say about us? As our collection grows we look back and remember the time and life circumstance occurring when a particular piece came into our collection. Its a story of who we are on some level and part of what we feel to be important. That changes and develops over time as does our collection. Oh, and it is interesting and fun.
Sina Brush, 31. August 2020

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Aaron Payne

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