One of my first assignments as an English major was to work with my classmates to define "literature." Everyone can agree that Shakespeare and Dickens and Faulkner qualify, of course, but once you get away from the canon, it starts to get fuzzier. Is Harry Potter literature? I vote yes, but not everyone agrees. Is 50 Shades of Gray literature? I vote no, but again, not everyone agrees.
I can't remember what we ultimately decided or even whether we agreed, but I feel like it was a worthwhile thought exercise and a good starting point for this blog. At what point does someone qualify as an "art collector"?
Some times it's obvious. Willem van Haecht's Collection of Cornelis de Geest wirh Paracelsus clearly depicts a legit collection. This Cornelis de Geest fellow, a Belgium spice merchant who was was committed to patronizing local artists, definitely made the cut.
So too does Frenchman Antoine de Galbert-Defforey, whose contemporary collection is featured in part above. He is an art collector for sure.
If you have works by artists that are featured in art history textbooks or in museums, you undeniably qualify, right? If you have a collection of pieces assessed to be worth tens of thousands of dollars each (or more), you're a shoe-in to the art collectors club, too, amirite? But surely the bar isn't that high for everyone?
For the purposes of this blog, my personal definition is as follows:
Art collector: One who owns original works of art, limited-edition art prints, and/or fine-art photography and continues to add to his or her collection.
That's it. If you own art and you continue to seek out more art, then you're an art collector. Do the pieces have to be from famous artists? God, no. Do you even need to know who the artist is? Nope, though I imagine lots of collectors like to know the story behind a piece and its creator. What if some of the pieces in your collection are original but some are mass-produced prints? You still make the cut, as far as I'm concerned, especially if you're committed to the second part of my definition--continually looking to grow and improve your collection.
Collectors, what do you think? Do you agree with my definition? Am I missing something? I welcome debate!