When I was growing up, a painting of a woman in a hammock flanked by sleeping children hung above our mantelpiece. For as long as I can remember, it sat there, as familiar to me as a family photograph. One day, when visiting my parents I observed my mother on the couch with her grandchildren swaddled either side – the painting’s mirror image. At that moment I saw that thirty years after she brought the painting home life had imitated art.
The mimesis between art and life has long been observed. In 1889, Oscar Wilde asserted boldly that “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life”. He argued that rather than merely copy, life imitates art because life craves a kind of expression found in great art. This life-affirming quality is at the heart of art’s value. Beyond economics and social status, the personal value of art is self-illuminating, growing brighter over time.
Lynda Barry, How to look at art [cartoon, 2016]
How do you access Personal Value?
Have you ever looked at a work of art and thought – I don’t know why I love it, I just do? This feeling goes beyond a work’s economic or social status. Rather, it is intuitive, intimate and profound, reflecting the unique bond we create with art.
As collectors appreciate, unwrapping this bond takes time. By bringing art home, we are allowed time to explore our connection to it, in turn discovering parts of ourselves. I recall with amusement the time it took me to understand my personal pull towards Brett Whiteley’s ‘Vincent’. While on the phone in my study, I smiled, realizing the poetic irony of Vincent’s missing ear – hung on the wall for me to stare at in my chattiest room.
Brett Whiteley, 'Another way of looking at Vincent Van Gogh'
Whether lounging on the couch, chatting on the phone in your study or entertaining friends in the dining room, suddenly, we may lock eyes with a work of art and brilliantly realize why we connect with it. This ‘a-ha’ moment – slap bang on an ordinary day – can be edifying, giddy and utterly unexpected.
The personal value of art is not always evident at first glance. It can take time for it to infiltrate our lives, self and soul – and great collectors know this. Steered by curiosity, we seek works that offer unsparing beauty, intrigue and depth. Rather than existing alongside art, we live with it.
One last story. At the beginning of my career in art, I acquired a work titled 'Keepsake' by the progeny of the Heide school, Sweeney Reed. Despite adoring it, I was planning to sell it when a peer reminded me to not lose sight of my own love for art. Thus, I kept it – a proverbial ‘keepsake’ and reminder that sometimes the personal value of art is paramount.
While 'Keepsake' by Sweeney Reed is not for sale, we have plenty of life altering art that is. Discover what's newly here.