Five books every collector should own
Collecting is an art in itself, and finding success requires learning the ropes of the market ecosystem. To help you build your own collection, we suggest five books that offer certain models on where to start.
1.The Rise and Rise of the Private Art Museum by Georgina Adam
Since the beginning of the pandemic, major collectors such as François Pinault and He Jianfeng have opened private museums; Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Nicolas Berggruen and Mera and Donald Rubell opened new ones in the coming years. Of course, this trend is not going to end anytime soon, hence the carefully chosen title for this book. Journalist Georgina Adam demonstrates that private museums are more than just tax shelters – they are increasingly important ways to support artists as well.
2. Double Vision: The Unerring Eye of Art World Avatars Dominique and John de Menil
In the mid-20th century, married collectors Dominique and John de Menil helped make Houston a destination for modern art by opening a museum. This is the subject of this exciting biography, which, at nearly 800 pages, is a close look at how great works of Andy Warhol, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and others. The book also demonstrates how her collection has become a form of activism.
3. Duveen: A Life in Art
Perhaps no dealer in British art history has had as much influence as Joseph Duveen, who brokered some of the most famous art sales of the 20th century. In 1921, it involved the sale of Thomas Gainsborough's Blue Boy to railroad magnate Henry Huntington for the current equivalent of about $10 million. Meryle Secrest's biography recounts how the dealer amassed a Rolodex from leading American collectors of the day (including Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Mellon) - and how Duveen's deep connections across the lake paved the way for the masterpieces to leave. Europe forever.
4. American Art: Merrell's Collection and Connoisseurship
Let's say you want to put together a collection of art made in the USA over the centuries. Where can you start? Stephen M. Sessler, a collector in his own right, has used that question to guide this book, which is intended to offer a brief history of American art along with insights into the market. Find some of these insights in art historian Tiffany Elena Washington's essay on the revival of unknown figures, and learn what recent retrospectives have done to the market.
5. Boom: Mad Money, Mega Dealers, and the Rise of Contemporary Art byMichael Shnayerson
As journalist Michael Shnayerson reminds us in Boom, it's almost too easy to take the current art market system for granted, in which the wealthy few regularly conduct multimillion-dollar deals. It wasn't always like this; the trend is quite recent. The opaque web that dealers Larry Gagosian, David Zwirner, Iwan Wirth and other figures cultivate can be difficult for budding collectors to infiltrate, so consider this book something of a model for today's market — and a possible entry.