‘There is art for every budget and every taste’

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The Artistic Matter section of Art Rotterdam exhibits artists who use unusual materials and techniques, such as Tomás Libertíny, who makes sculptures from beeswax.Image Lakeside Bee Farm, Tomás Libertíny

“Get over your embarrassment and ask a lot of questions, including about the price. You may be scared out of your mind, but maybe it won’t be too bad and a work of art is very affordable,” is Nienke van der Wal’s advice to the novice art buyers who are walking around the Art Rotterdam art fair these days.

Her colleague Nadine van den Bosch advises advanced collectors to ‘step outside their comfort zone and view the range of new galleries’. Van der Wal and Van den Bosch have written down a much longer list of tips and tricks, plus a thorough analysis of the force field in which you find yourself as an art buyer. The great art purchase book. The authors draw on their own experience, but also on the seven years in which they led the Young Collectors Circle, a platform that shows the way to a new generation of art buyers.


Eternity, Tomás Libertiny.

Large house not a requirement

The book arose from the need to clear up the misunderstandings about art collecting once and for all. Because no, you don’t have to be a millionaire, rich heir or graduated art historian. And a big house is not a requirement either.

“There is art for every budget and every taste,” says Van den Bosch. Van der Wal adds: “Nike had the slogan ‘Everyone with a body is an athlete’. We argue that anyone with two or more works of art is a collector.”

The great art purchase book distinguishes itself from other publications on collecting by an explicitly idealistic approach. “Many books are about the personal connection with works of art or about the value of art, especially as a financial investment,” say the authors. “We emphasize the social aspect of collecting. By buying art you support artists who cannot earn their money in many other ways. You see that advanced collectors also provide support in other ways, for example by financing a trip or investing in an exhibition.”

Revival of craftsmanship

This philanthropic aspect of buying art is catching on with the younger generation of collectors, who, according to Van den Bosch, differ from their predecessors in several respects. “They shop around more than the traditional collector who is loyal to one gallery. You also see that the art market is becoming more global. You can easily keep track of what is happening in Brazil, for example, via the internet. And while buying art online was unthinkable ten years ago, it is now the most normal thing in the world.”

Digitization also has an impact on the art supply and the preferences of buyers, Van der Wal knows. “Nowadays they also buy NFTs, websites and other high-tech works of art. At the same time you see a revival of craftsmanship, also at Art Rotterdam. For example, ceramics and textiles are very popular.”

Finding your way through the overwhelming range of exhibitions is an art in itself, the collection advisors realize. That is why it is good to set priorities in advance and to dose your ‘viewing energy’ wisely.

Van der Wal himself is looking forward to the new Artistic Matter section. “Artists exhibit there who use unusual materials and techniques, such as Tomás Libertíny, who makes sculptures from beeswax.”

Van den Bosch recommends Prospects, the special presentation of the Mondriaan Fund. “The nice thing is that you meet the artists themselves here. Because it is a large exhibition, it is more difficult to navigate than the fair itself. At the end of a trade fair day you may no longer have the energy to do that. That’s why I’m going to start there this year.”

Nienke van der Wal. Image Saffron Pape
Nienke van der Wal.Image Saffron Pape
Nadine van den Bosch. Image Saffron Pape
Nadine van den Bosch.Image Saffron Pape
Nadine van den Bosch and Nienke van der Wal: The big art purchase book (€ 29.99). Image Terra
Nadine van den Bosch and Nienke van der Wal: The big art purchase book (€ 29.99).Image Terra

Free tours

Young Collectors Circle gives free tours of Art Rotterdam on Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM. The book presentation is on Sunday at 4:00 PM at the Donner bookstore.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: art budget taste

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