Why Collect Art?

15 Dec 2014

Children on the Seashore by Joaquin Sorolla, oil on canvas, 1903.
Children on the Seashore by Joaquin Sorolla, oil on canvas, 1903.
I was once again reading through my copy of the catalog for the 1989 exhibition, The Painter Joaquin Sorolla, and came across this 1933 quote by John Paul Getty in an article called Creative Collecting. Ever the opportunist, Getty had decided that since the Crash in 1929, the time was ripe for collecting great art for investment purposes on the cheap, and he set about hitting the auctions.

By that time, avant-garde art was on the rise and Sorolla's work was out of fashion and not on Getty's collecting radar. In a testimonial which, in our view, defines why some art is so powerful that its transcendent expression can speak to the soul of even the most tough-minded of business men, Mr. Getty explained why he bought ten Sorollas:

"In November 1933 I attended the Thomas Fortune Ryan sale at the Anderson Galleries in New York City. There I purchased a total of twelve pieces. Ten of them were paintings by the Spanish impressionist Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, who died in 1923.

Obviously his work did not fit into any of the five major categories into which I intended to channel my collecting efforts. However I was struck by the remarkable quality of Sorolla's paintings, being especially fascinated by his unique treatment of sunlight.

I am certain of one thing however. Although the purchase of these impressionist works was a major digression from my usual five-fold collecting path, my opinion regarding their beauty, appeal, and artistic merit remains the same as it was when I first saw these canvases at the Anderson Galleries. These digressions serve to illustrate that even the collector who is grimly determined to specialize or limit himself is highly likely to be led or lead himself down many detours and byways.

Although he may prefer one or a few types or schools of art to all others, his acquaintance with and understanding of specific forms of beauty cannot but help expand his aesthetic horizons. He cannot avoid, sooner or later, appreciating other forms, other schools, other categories of fine art. As his specialized collection grows, so grows his tolerance, his understanding and his appreciation—and so grow his depth and dimension as a perceptive, sensitive and well-rounded individual."

If anyone knows of a better reason to collect art, we'd like to hear it. Visit us at The Artist's Road for more great articles.

John & Ann

 


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