Why not live for Art? II - 9 collectors reveal their treasures


In 2004, Why not live for Art? exhibition focused on private collections, which were gaining in popularity at the time. That exhibition explored art collection, revealed what sort of people the collectors were, and demonstrated the attraction of art, which emerges through the act of collecting. Now, less than a decade afterwards, it has become more common for individuals in Japan to buy art. While the number of art collectors is still few compared to America and Europe, art is shifting from ‘something you view’ to ‘something you can buy.’

So, why is it that people buy artwork? Why collect art in the first place? Are there special rules to be followed? This exhibition explores the answers to these questions through a presentation of the private collections of nine individuals, who in a sense represent the next generation of collectors.

One might think that in selecting art for a private collection, collectors would choose something that is attractive, beautiful, or ‘easy to understand’ to adorn their homes. The nine individual collectors featured here, however, are interesting in that each of them selects works based on his or her own particular criteria and perspective. The works that they select are very varied. Some are lent out for display to art museum exhibitions, but others are large and hard to handle, some appear at first glance to be nothing more than scraps of paper, and yet others are difficult to possess, embodying the thoughts and actions of the artist. At first it seems surprising that people go to the trouble of purchasing such works. However, that commitment speaks volumes about the attraction of art that makes it irreplaceable to the collector.

In addition to finding, acquiring, and owning artwork, art collecting can also involve supporting artists and collaborating with them in the creation of art, as well as sharing information, ideas, and values. As it becomes more diverse, contemporary art is inspiring new collectors. Conversely, one could also say that new collectors are bringing about the diversification of contemporary art. We hope this exhibition provides an opportunity to consider the possibilities of art collection that transcends mere personal collection, as well as to think about new roles that individual collectors could have in the art scene.

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Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery