On May 2nd, the art world witnessed a record setting sale for the most expensive artwork sold at auction. When Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ hit Sotheby’s auction block that Wednesday, paddles waived the sale price up to $119.9 million. Is this the picture of today’s art collector?
While the blue-chip collector who purchased ‘The Scream’ is an extreme example, there is a strongly misguided perception that in order to be an art collector one must be wielding the proverbial paddle at an esteemed auction house, such as Sotheby’s or Leslie Hindman. Not the case.
Would I love an original De Kooning? Absolutely, but I’m not in any position to plunk down $6 million. Most people aren’t. Instead, I have my eye on an original Labuzek. Who knows, you may see his work one day in the MCA, but if not, I’m ok with that because I purchase art for two very simple, but fundamental reasons – because I connect with it and because it’s an original. I like knowing that what I buy isn’t hanging above Pottery Barn sofas all across America and I like knowing that the money I spend on an original piece of art is supporting the career of someone who is following their passion. It’s a rarity that someone works hard to follow a dream and I’d much rather support someone’s dream than a major department store. Wouldn’t you?
There’s no doubt that art should be and can be accessible to everyone. So, while we can’t all own the work of a Master, we can own the work of a master in the making.