Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Business of Collecting

Werner H. Kramarsky, photograph courtesy of

Rarely when I visit an exhibition or listen to a talk, am I compelled to write about it that very same night. Tonight was an exception. Tonight, the Contemporary Art Society of the IMA hosted a talk by famed collector Werner H. Kramarsky. For those not familiar with Mr. Kramarsky, he and his wife have amassed thousands of drawings over the course of more than 40 years. Generous portions of which have been donated to museum collections throughout the world. Most notably was a recent contribution to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Being a collector myself, and being frustrated with the way collections shown in Indianapolis have been handled in the public realm, I was a little apprehensive about attending, but ventured forward none the less. What I was struck with was one of the most pleasant talks I have ever been to.

The first item that grabbed my attention inspired the title of this post. Mr. Kramarsky referred to his passion as "the business of collecting". Never downplaying his innate passion, he made it very clear this was a business. And with that business comes social responsibility. One must not only have (and I paraphrase) a social conscience about their collection, but ask themselves what they have done for the artist. It is so easy in this crazy art market to get caught up in auction results and new records for contemporary artists, and it's so refreshing to meet someone that so rarely relies on the secondary market. He spoke, without downplaying the importance of the gallery, on a direct relationship between the artist and the patron, on the rewards of developing a relationship with Sol Lewitt or Ed Ruscha and looking back and discovering the gems in your collection that represent a turning point in the artists career, and he spoke of the joy of supporting young artists and challenged the IMA to do the same.

With no projector in sight, works were passed through the audience allowing everyone in attendance to share in the delight of the pieces with the collector. Most encouraging was the numerous local collectors in attendance whose collections I have really begun to admire.

I am still working on a post from my recent trip to Dallas, where a few collectors have transformed that city into what will soon become a contemporary art destination in the US. You can also expect numerous posts in the future here on OTC on the power and importance of collecting.

Recent posts on other blogs that I can't find right now ask what is a drawing. Mr. Kramarsky summed it up best. If an artist thinks his or her work is a drawing, then it's a drawing. And it's this trust and empowerment in the artist, coupled with a lifetime of learning, that makes his collection so great. And makes him an inspiration to us all.

3 Responses to “The Business of Collecting”

Lisa Hunter said...
May 26, 2006 at 7:46 PM

Dallas/Ft. Worth has an amazing art scene -- almost entirely thanks to private collectors. (Remember, we're talking about a state that doesn't even have an income tax.) Looking forward to your post.

Michael Randazzo said...
May 31, 2006 at 12:17 PM


is there an e-mail address where I might reach you concerning the Kramarsky post?

Michael in NYC

Christopher said...
May 31, 2006 at 12:31 PM This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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