Excessiveness – the Latent Danger of Collecting Art


The BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors is not only an extremely useful travel companion, but also gives great insight into the joys, laws and challenges of collecting. 

We have already introduced you to some topics covered in the guide in form of short texts, so called Shorties, and have the next one lined up for you.

This time it’s all about the excessiveness of collecting and what happens when a collection is bursting at its seams — an aspect that is often forgotten or is of secondary nature for many collectors. Read below to find out why it can pay off to be a skilled organizer and why it is useful to sometimes keep the invoice.

Excessiveness is the latent danger of collecting art. Quite a few collectors throw a wink and call their buying behavior “an addiction.” But not to worry: the negative side-effects of such an addiction are slight—apart, of course, from losing your invested money. Most collectors fight battles on two fronts: too little space and too little organization. The space at home is limited, in most cases, and it is rarely sufficient for installing all one’s cherished works. Some even say that one is only a “true collector” when your own four walls no longer provide enough space for all the works you own. This leads to a choice between compressing one’s collection or expanding into outside storage. When the works are no longer at your fingertips is exactly when unexpectedly complicated questions arise about their proper registration, correct documentation, and the best methods for packaging and storing—all issues that have nothing to do with why one began collecting art. This is why, even for large collections, the sword of Damocles seems to be hanging overhead, ready to unleash chaos. The only reason it doesn’t fall is because no one looks more closely or requires additional, precise information. Many collectors, for example, do not maintain invoices or certificates for artworks they purchased a decade or more ago. In such cases, specialized art historians can assist with professional analysis and organization. On the other hand, it is exactly the privilege of private collectors to not fulfill the requirements a public institution is bound to. Unlike a museum, their focus is not necessarily the optimal preservation of art, but on living with it. This appeals, of course, to many artists.

Independent Collectors

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