Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Show Me Yours

One of the first questions people ask me – usually straight after they ask where I find my inspiration (as if it were somewhere I could send them, like an interesting bookshop or a vintage clothing store) – is whether I collect art myself. As it turns out, I don't, not really, but it's more because of a lack of time than anything else. Lately, as I've become more settled into somewhere I like to think of as 'home', I've been thinking about populating it with a few objets that mean a lot to me.
I've always bought books. I have enough of them to constitute a modest library, covering a variety of subjects from 20th century art, photography and sculpture to Caribbean voodoo rituals, Polynesian navigation and early 20th century sexual fetishes (a source of constant surprise and inspiration). I also have the beginnings of an unusual collection of sex toys. However, I don't own much art – not even my own.
So what would I like to collect? Well, odd as it might sound, dolls – but not the sort of cherub-face, porcelain-limbed infants in long nightgowns that might once have graced your maiden aunt's dressing table. I've fallen in love with the naked, skeletally fragile china dolls made by Marina Bychkova. Each is exquisitely crafted, with expressive hands and languid posture. I adore that they are, if desired, anatomically correct – even the vulva is painted beautifully, as on one of my favourites, 'Sapphire' – and each character transmits an undercurrent of psychological tension. I love the occasionally grim attention to detail, including the accurately bound feet of her 'Lotus' doll. Bychkova's research of both costume and culture is even referred to in the doll's name: "Lotus refers to the shape a woman’s foot takes after it has been severely broken and mutilated by binding."
I used to prefer blank walls, painted white. I found anything hanging on them distracting. However, I'm beginning to like the idea of having other people's art around me. I have a number of pieces in mind: a painting by Francesco Clemente, one from his Fifty One Days On Mount Abu series (example above), and a small oil painting by Frida Kahlo; a study drawing by Eva Hesse – there's an intimacy and exploration in Hesse's drawings that I prefer to the conclusiveness of her finished works – as well as a monochrome silver gelatin print by Tina Modotti and a messy, diaristic collage by Peter Beard. The only Australian work I'd want is a sculpture by Linde Ivimey, whose work reminds me of the spooky Capuchin Crypt in Rome.
I am curious about what readers of this blog might like to collect – and why. Leave a comment.


Renato said...

Among contemporary painters, yeah, Clemente and if I had a few million to spare, Cy Twombly and Brice Marden. I'd love to own one or two of Joseph Cornell's boxes and signed photographic prints by Robert Frank, Larry Clark, Modotti and Manuel Alvarez Bravo – oh, and Any Goldsworthy, the sculptor – but the most I can afford are their books.

crumpet said...

One of the joys of being a printmaker is it's rather democratic nature — makes it easier to swap artwork with your friends. I do buy art from time to time, but I actually have a pretty substantial collection of work that I love just from swapping. I don't have a particular big name artist or whatever whose work I'd want to own. Except for maybe everything by Cornelia Parker. :)

There is one piece that I want desperately though, although as a student I can't even begin to justify or afford it... 'Rima knows the curse of being born on Christmas Eve', by Jazmina Cininas —

Anonymous said...

Hi Hazel,

Every room of my house has at least one work of art (quite an eclectic collection) from friends.
It's a constant reminder of
their friendship and it makes
a bunch of good energy throughout the place too.


Anonymous said...

I love my growing collection of friends' art. I'd love to collect more indigenous art, The painter's from Utopia, art from AsiaPacific, Nth American totem poles. Max Ernst, Emily Carr, James Gleeson, Georgia O'Keefe, Chinese ink paintings.
If I had the room and the cash I'd also collect custom cars. Shameless! k

TET (David) said...

Being the occupant of several rental properties over the years, the only thing I have, that could be loosely described as 'a collection', is a collection of broken toys and other object remnants left in the gardens and sheds by previous tenants. Kind of like little 'treasures' from the past I think. A tiny glimpse into history maybe?

It's all rubbish, of course, that I'll probably chuck at some stage but whenever I find myself in a new rental property I can't help but scan the ground to see what I can find.

I don't collect art mostly because I have no where to display it (another curse of rental living - you can't stick nails in the wall).

Anonymous said...

I love a warhol image of picasso which I had emailed to me by a sydney auction house today. Its being auctioned in Sept with an estimate of $1.5 million. I saw the email, deleted it, now I want to look at it again and its gone. It must be online somewhere. In my dreams I'll buy it for myself.

I have a small collection of work by australian artists, some well known some not. I would have a great collection of earrings if I didn't keep losing one of a pair so often.

I guess I have a collection of boots, don't lose them at least. I gave my sister a pair of red leather ankle boots and tan suede shoes to a friend. I feel guilty keeping so many boots/shoes.

Had a huge collection of books, sold most but buying newies now. All styles/topics, art, poetry, novels, auto/biography, burlesque, monroe, photography, 'confessions of an art addict' by Peggy Guggenheim was a recent gift from a friend.

I am trying to stop buying from now on and keep money in the kitty (ANZ).

Anonymous said...

Crumpet, i just looked up Jazmina's print "Rima knows the curse of being born on Christmas Eve" - i like it a lot too. About the same price as Hazel's photos.

Stefan Maguran said...

I have a rapidly growing collection of artists that I've met online. I've started to show my collection in my little studio by organising monthly exhibitions. November is dedicated to John McNelley, a Brisbane artist who sent me 25 of his works as an invaluable gift.