Collector's guide: 4 tips on how to start a contemporary art collection

Our Modern & Contemporary Art Online Only Auction from June 10-29 features more than 100 works from the collection of the Hague collectors Anno Lampe and Lex Plompen. These passionate collectors have brought together an impressive collection in recent decades with a focus on contemporary Dutch art and three-dimensional work. When one collector downsizes, this gives another the opportunity to expand his collection. It is also an excellent opportunity for novice collectors to gain inspiration and purchase their first artwork. At our request, Anno Lampe gives some non-binding tips for building an art collection:


Trust your own eyes
The much appraised ‘first gaze’ as a guarantee for quality is often a myth. Some works of art need time before you realize that the work you have seen is actually very good. Do not get distracted by other people’s opinions. Over time, an art collection can become a portrait of yourself.  If it is only a true reflection of what you see to be popular in the art market, it means very little.
Take your time
If you see something intriguing, find out more about the artist and his work. An artist cannot be judged by one single work. If you see at a one-man exhibition more than one work that you would like to buy, contain yourself to one purchase. If you buy both works, one will be a favourite and the other not.  If the artist is good, he or she might cross your path again in the future with new works. Building an interesting collection takes time.
An art collector can only choose
Over time, a collection becomes an ‘artwork’ in its proper right. The collector's contributions lie in the choices he or she has made, nothing more. Selecting is his or her only instrument. How strict the selection is, the more exciting the collection becomes. Strict in this context means that only the quality of the artwork should be decisive and not: ‘‘this artist is so nice” or “he really needs the money.’’ In a good art collection, sympathy purchases usually fail due to a lack of substance.
Determine your budget in advanced
A fixed budget forces you to make sharper choices. A collection in which money plays no role is not always the best collection. Art and money are not a happy marriage, they can’t live together, and neither can they live without one another. Do not let your judgement be distracted by the amount written on the price tag. The prices for well-known artists are often based on their performance in the art market, which may vary over time. For art by unknown artists, the gallery owner creates an artificial market. As soon as you step out of the gallery with your new purchase, the appraisal value may have more or less halved. Although the quality is still the same, the work left the protected market and entered the public, unprotected domain. The collector now guarantees the quality by including it in his collection and showing it to others.

Check out our virtual tour here.