What is collecting?

Collecting is not necessarily buying in numbers! The most concise definition comes from the Petit Larousse of 1930: "reunion of related objects". The recent edition states: "... chosen for their beauty, their rarity, their curious character or their documentary value ..." as well as: "together presenting a unity". 


Photography, a real temptation to collect

Hard to find more popular than photography! Everyone knows photography to have a personal approach, unlike painting or even drawing where it takes a minimum of donation to practice. This popularity makes the photographic interesting a priori and allows it to be immediately understandable.

This is why he is often the artistic medium chosen by many amateurs for their first acquisitions.
©Piotr Zbierski courtesy Little Birds Gallery

When are we talking about collection?

When you ask the Belgian collector Galila, she tells you that the collection starts with the acquisition of two works, when a dialogue takes place.

Indeed, it is not only a question of accumulating works but of giving meaning to the whole. The great diversity of photography lends itself to it wonderfully: a collection of photography can be centered around an artistic movement, an era, a technique (the Polaroid), a profession (photo-reportage). , fashion photo), a genre (the nude, the landscape) or a theme (humanism).

That said, the binder is often revealed after the acquisition of some works. Just let yourself be carried away by his favorites!


Who are the collectors?

The latest report of the Ministry of Culture on collectors of contemporary art in France (2015) highlights 4 profiles of collectors:

Professional Collectors
They devote all their free time to their collection, are involved in projects with institutions, lend their works in France and abroad, finance catalogs and the production of certain works.
They usually started their collection before the age of 20 and rely on their own knowledge and experience in the selection of works.
They can acquire works up to 100 000 euros and their collection sometimes contains more than 200 pieces.

Commited Collectors
They made their first acquisitions at the beginning of their adult life, between the ages of 20 and 30, and devote most of their free time to finding information: they read the specialized press, attend the fairs, regularly follow the activity of some. They value the approach of the artist and are attentive to criticism and where the work has been exposed.
Their collections number between 100 and 200 works and the highest purchase price they have paid ranges from 10,000 to 50,000 euros.

Moderate Collectors
They devote part of their time to art and the collection, the decoration is often the reason for buying, they are sensitive to the opinions of gallerists and experts to confirm their judgment on the work.
Their collections generally include less than 50 works they have acquired for a maximum amount of between 10,000 and 50,000 euros.

Independent collectors
These collectors, who began their collection mostly after the thirties, are quite autonomous in their judgment, their acquisitions are motivated by the choice of a work rather than an artist's approach.
The networks mobilized for the purchase of works are innovative: if the galleries are not necessarily disdained, the web is a popular place to buy
The collections formed usually have less than 50 works and the purchase price of the highest work remains less than 5,000 euros. 

How to value your collection of photography?

We have to differentiate artistic and financial value :

the artistic value is related to the meaning of the collection, possibly to the documentation that accompanies it, the rarity of its components, the quality and notoriety of its authors. Knowledgeable collectors look for rare copies of safe provenance.

the financial value: today photography, like all plastic creations, has become an investment, even a refuge in the event of a crisis, the less motivated collector on this aspect can not ignore it or dismiss the idea: the dimension financial is a criterion of a collection, even if it is not his goal. In photography, multiple par excellence and reproducible at will, the financial value remains particularly related to the rarity of a work and a collector will have to remain attentive to the number of prints made.

©César Ordóñez courtesy Fifty Dots Gallery