Two prom­i­nent gal­lerists share their views on con­tem­po­rary art and their own per­sonal col­lec­tions.

VOGUE Living Australia - - Art & Design -

On a life­time of col­lect­ing I bought my first art­work, a God­frey Miller pen­cil draw­ing on pa­per, when I was 21 years old. Grow­ing up sur­rounded by ma­jor oil paint­ings helped me as a bud­ding dealer, but like any­one else I still had to make that first com­mit­ment with my own money. The im­pulse to col­lect is like paint­ing a self-por­trait — decade by decade all the sto­ries are there. Look through my record col­lec­tion and per­haps you might know me; look at my art and see it all laid bare — it’s a tactile mem­oir. On how to choose art The big­gest mis­con­cep­tion about art col­lect­ing is that it is solely for the rich. The first in­vest­ment you ma is ac­tu­ally an emo­tional one.“Can I live with this? What does it mea What does it say?” Buy­ing art is al­ways a meet­ing be­tween the he and the head. But it’s not rocket sci­ence. A good art col­lec­tion, li a great wardrobe or a beau­ti­ful in­te­rior, evolves over time. On his pri­vate col­lec­tion The walls are cov­ered in beauti Ni­cholas Hard­ing land­scapes and gutsy, lyri­cal [John] Olsens. I ne a few pieces that talk back like naughty chil­dren — my works Juz Kit­son al­most bite! On dis­play­ing art at home The art in my house is the op­po­site of decor and I let it clash de­lib­er­ately. It took me a long time to learn that aes­thet­ics are dif­fer­ent to taste. Taste sells a house; aes­thet­ics make a home. I try to let my art breathe and move around. The idea that art ‘com­pletes’ a room makes me rest­less. It’s suf­fo­cat­ing to think you can’t lean a paint­ing on a book­shelf or pin a draw­ing to a wall be­cause it’s an ‘in­vest­ment’. On con­tem­po­rary Aus­tralian art I’ve al­ways thought it was mis­un­der­stood and un­der­rated by in­ter­na­tional col­lec­tors and gal­lerists. Art fairs, as they grow vaster and more ho­moge­nous ev­ery year, feel a lot like lux­ury shop­ping malls, as many gal­leries brand them­selves with the face­less, gilded author­ity of Gucci or Prada. In that con­text, a small in­de­pen­dent Aus­tralian gallery can drown. Art re­flects economies, so in Europe and Amer­ica, art is stud­ied, mar­keted and col­lected on an in­dus­trial scale. The young Aus­tralian fash­ion de­sign­ers who broke into cou­ture in Paris and the Marc New­sons who took Mi­lan and then the strato­sphere have few equiv­a­lents in our art world. On the fu­ture of Aus­tralian art It’s in­evitable that Aus­tralian art will gain promi­nence be­yond Indige­nous painters and Bi­en­nale show­cases. In the mean­time, Aus­tralian col­lec­tors still have the priv­i­lege of be­ing able to af­ford their coun­try’s best artists. And they also get to gal­vanise their own faith in painters, pho­tog­ra­phers and sculp­tors who are not global name brands.

run­ning Olsen Gallery, Olsen An­nexe and Lim­ited in Syd­ney’s Wool­lahra. Born into the arts dy­nas­ti­cally, he is the son of the great painter John Olsen. He re­cently launched Olsen Gruin gallery in New York — tak­ing Aus­tralian art in­ter­na­tional.

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