BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Unique Collector’s Item

by Independent Collectors

Besides giving you an insight into more than 200 private yet publicly accessible collections worldwide, we also want to provide some background informations into the art of collecting. This is why we have included numerous Shorties, concise texts about collecting, in the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors.

Today we highlight a Shorty that looks back to the history of collecting and we learn that as the artwork became something unique, it also became a collector’s item. But owning a unique work of art isn’t the only thing that interests collectors, befriending an artist has mattered to collectors from the Renaissance until now.

Collecting art is an expression of individuality, and it has been for centuries. But it was only during the Renaissance, when the artist was raised from a craftsman to a genius who created something extraordinary, that the individual work of art was born. While throughout the Middle Ages artworks were assessed and valued according to the amount of precious materials they contained—such as gold or lapis lazuli—the Renaissance valued what part of a painting a master like Sandro Botticelli painted and what part he appointed his apprentices to undertake. Apprentices were usually only responsible for the background and accessories; the master was in charge of the complicated parts, like the face or hands. Increasingly, as the artwork became something unique, it also became a collector’s item. But it was not only the work itself with which collectors wished to surround themselves; they aimed also to show their ability to appreciate precious things. The contact, or rather the friendship, with the artist also became important and special. Because an artist did not have to bow to social convention, his genius allowed him to move beyond the rules—this was sometimes even expected of him. From this history emerged the idea of the twentieth-century bohemian, an individual who was financially poor but artistically gifted. In the best case, the bohemian artist was backed by a patron who both appreciated his art and supported him financially. Some artworks would never have been possible or would not have survived without this constellation of interests. For example, the famous patron Peggy Guggenheim assisted Max Ernst, who immigrated to the United States at the beginning of the 1940s with artworks that the Nazis had defamed as "degenerate." The delicate balance between giving and taking exists to this day, of course, making art-collecting for the majority of collectors immensely attractive, eternally revealing the uniqueness of the collecting activity.

Insiders (68)


Exhibition venue with the theme ‚Living with Art‘

Wilhelmina Jewell Strong - Sparks

Founder of BiTHOUSE Projects - BAAR Art Journey


Collector behind the ARNDT Collection

Sandra Guimarães

Director of Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear

Grazyna Kulczyk

Founder of Muzeum Susch


Interview with Georgie Pope and Eleonora Sutter, Co-founders

Kamiar Maleki

Director at VOLTA

Gallery Weekend Berlin 2022

Tokini Peterside

Founder and Director, ART X Lagos


Founding Director of the Athens Biennale

Boris Ondreička

Artistic Director of viennacontemporary

Maribel Lopez

Director of ARCO

David Gryn

Founder and Director of Daata

Fondation Beyeler Audiovisual Broadcast

Fondation Beyeler and Nordstern Basel present Dixon x Transmoderna

Gary Yeh

Founder of ArtDrunk and Young Collector

WATCH: The Best of the BMW Art Guide

Where will you travel next to explore art?

Maike Cruse

2020 Gallery Weekend Berlin

Touria El Glaoui

Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Johann König

Messe in St. Agnes

PArt - Producers Art Platform

A crisis initiative to help artists directly affected by the pandemic

Barbara Moore

CEO of Biennale of Sydney

Alix Dana

Fair Director at Independent

When Collectors are Able to Commission

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Juliet Kothe and Julia Rust

Initiators of Collection Night, Berlin

Marie-Anne McQuay

Curator of Wales in Venice, 58th Venice Biennale 2019

Dorothy and Herb Vogel

Two extraordinary art collectors

Heather Hubbs

Director at NADA

Every Art Collection Needs Space

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Collecting Art with François Pinault

Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi

A Common Ground

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Caroline Vos

Director at Amsterdam Art Weekend

Hidden Collections

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Nicole Berry

Executive Director of The Armory Show

Daniel Hug

Fair Director at Art Cologne

The Role of the Art Fair

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Peter Bläuer

Director at LISTE

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

Specifically Commissioned

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Manuela Mozo

Executive Director of UNTITLED, ART Miami and San Francisco

Important Museums and Private Collections

by Christiane Meixner

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

Amanda Coulson

Director at VOLTA Basel

Douwe Cramer

Director at Singapore Contemporary

Art and Architecture – Attractive Allies

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Jo Baring

Curator of Sculpture Series, Masterpiece London

Bidders and Buyers

by Christiane Meixner

Anne Vierstraete

Managing Director at Art Brussels

Nanna Hjortenberg

Director at CHART

The Crucial Role of the New

by Independent Collectors

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

A Private Matter?

On the importance of physical space for the value of art

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