BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

A Private Matter?

On the importance of physical space for the value of art

Visitors at Art Basel Hong Kong 2013 in front of a mixed media installation by Haegue Yang
Visitors at Art Basel Hong Kong 2013 in front of a mixed media installation by Haegue Yang

In a time of increasing digitalization, it will become increasingly common in the future that we will not have to leave the house anymore to do everyday life activities like work, leisure or shopping. Through increasingly intelligent computer technology, we will be able to conduct everything from our private home, letting the virtual world define our social interaction and perception. Of course the question is: what happens to actual physical space and the concept of the public? Stepping back from this futuristic vision, it is notable that these questions are already today widely discussed - also in the art world.

In a recent article published in The Art Newspaper, author Blake Gopnik discusses the value of physical gallery space. In the last years, more and more art dealers have chosen to abandon the concept of a physical gallery space and to present their artists only at fairs or through the Internet. This is due to the increasing importance of art fairs and online sales, as well as avoiding high rents in art metropolises such as New York, London and Berlin (yes, also rents in this city are rising).

On the contrary, Marc Spiegler, director of Art Basel, explains that a physical gallery space is essential, not only to give some respect to and inspire the represented artists, but also to serve as a place for clients to visit. Furthermore, the location and space can already tell much about a gallery’s program.

But is that really all that matters? Blake Gopnik answers this question with "no" by pointing to the importance of the cultural value of an artwork that is generated by the public. Bringing art exclusively to private spaces, a broader cultural value that is essential to the artworks’ value, will be lost. In the words of the author "to the extent that fairs and websites are pushing galleries to the margins, they are also marginalizing the art their clients present."

Image by See-ming Lee, CC Licence Info, via Flickr; Mixed media installation by Haegue Yang: Courtesy Kukje Gallery, Seoul

More Information on The Art Newspaper

Insiders (48)

Alix Dana

Fair Director at Independent

When Collectors are Able to Commission

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Unique Collector’s Item

by Independent Collectors

Juliet Kothe and Julia Rust

Initiators of Collection Night, Berlin

Art and Architecture – Attractive Allies

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Marie-Anne McQuay

Curator of Wales in Venice, 58th Venice Biennale 2019

Collecting Art with François Pinault

Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi

Every Art Collection Needs Space

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

A Common Ground

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Hidden Collections

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

The Role of the Art Fair

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Daniel Hug

Fair Director at Art Cologne

Nicole Berry

Executive Director of The Armory Show

A Brush Against Nature

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Ilaria Bonacossa

Director of Artissima

Excessiveness, the Latent Danger of Collecting Art

by Independent Collectors

Jo Stella-Sawicka

Artistic Director at Frieze

Florence Bourgeois

Director at Paris Photo

Where Artists Can Work More Playfully

by Christiane Meixner

Heather Hubbs

Director at NADA

Specifically Commissioned

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Important Museums and Private Collections

by Christiane Meixner

Peter Bläuer

Director at LISTE

Susanna Corchia

Director of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend

Emilia van Lynden

Artistic Director at Unseen, Amsterdam

Carlos Urroz

Director at ARCOmadrid

Shoe Smudges Streaked Across the White Walls

by Christiane Meixner

Douwe Cramer

Director at Singapore Contemporary

Dorothy and Herb Vogel

Two extraordinary art collectors

Manuela Mozo

Executive Director of UNTITLED, ART Miami and San Francisco

Bidders and Buyers

by Christiane Meixner

Amanda Coulson

Director at VOLTA Basel

Jo Baring

Curator of Sculpture Series, Masterpiece London

Anne Vierstraete

Managing Director at Art Brussels

Nanna Hjortenberg

Director at CHART

The Crucial Role of the New

by Independent Collectors

Caroline Vos

Director at Amsterdam Art Weekend

Touria El Glaoui

Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Makers and Believers

On Art History’s Most Famous Patrons

The Past is Back

And collectors are buying it up

Are Artists the Better Curators?

On the diminishing boundary between professions in the art world

The Digital Museum

On the importance of the museum’s web presence

The Man in the Middle

On the curator’s private and public engagements

Off the Wall

How museums contribute to the worth of artworks

Where to Go Next?

The fragmentation of Manhattan’s gallery scene

To Buy or Not to Buy

Collectors on their experiences of letting an artwork slip away

How to Pass On a Passion

On long-term challenges for new private museums