What drives an art collector? Is it the thrill of the hunt, the desire to influence culture, cultivate knowledge or, perhaps, something less tangible? It varies. Collectors, like personality types, are driven by their own set of concerns, each with their own strengths, vulnerabilities and insights to share. From lovers of the bold, beautiful and every oddity in between, here is our taxonomy of the four species of art collector. Which are you?
The Trailblazer isn’t here to follow the crowd. Not a fan of stuffy museums nor bidding for the thrill, this group is drawn to the freshest, most daring acts in art. Their taste expands the boundaries of art while still teetering on the cusp of the iconic. Trailblazers include the man behind MONA, David Walsh, and Corbett Lyon, the architect and collector behind Lyon House Museum in Kew Melbourne.
Our tip: If you’re after art that rattles the canon, consider the hottest in emerging art. In his take, Philippe Le Miere drags Nolan and his Kelly into the twenty-first century.
Philippe Le Miere, 'What Happens After Sidney Nolan Ned Kelly?'
Seen reading art books and wandering museums, The Connoisseur is the art market’s intellectual. Their collection is built upon a devotion to culture and history, and pays close attention to the context, subtleties and the philosophical implications of each work. While they are unswayed by trend, Connoisseurs do consider expert opinion, and sometimes, can be experts themselves. An example of an expert Connoisseur is Joseph Brown, an art dealer who donated his formidable art collection to the National Gallery of Victoria.
Our tip: If you’re interested in Australian history or culture, a compelling place to look is Australian Modernism. Part of the Grosvenor School, Ethel Spowers helped bring modernism to Australia. Her underrepresentation in the story of Australian art has recently begun to be redressed.
Ethel Spowers, 'Durham Cathedral'
The Hunter knows all art isn’t created equal and they’re after the best. This breed of collector sees art as a trophy and the art market as its habitat. They’re gifted at finding and procuring the most desirable objects, building a collection that can secure their family’s future. For these swift strikers, the acquisition itself is a work of art .
Our Tip: To keep ahead of the market, subscribe to art newsletters like ours. We will keep you updated with what envy-inducing works have just been consigned, helping you pounce at the perfect time.
Adam Cullen, 'Ned Kelly Holding up a Kangaroo'
The Art Lover
Not to suggest that other collectors don’t love art, it’s just that The Art Lover can fall in love with a piece. For them, art is an end in itself – an emotional expression of being, transcendent of status or investment. Their method is driven by an instinct that may seem chaotic, but can ultimately flower into a grand vision. For Art Lovers, their sense of taste is employed to sniff out their perfect piece.
Our Tip: Browse lots of art. Within reason, don’t let yourself be restricted by era, artist or a stringent budget; the more art you see, the more likely you’ll fall in love. Also remember however, that lust is different from love. If you see a work that grabs you, take a moment to ensure your feelings are the real deal before moving in.