What qualities do exceptional art collectors share? What sets good collectors apart from the great?
In my years of working with extraordinary art collectors, the following five qualities stand out:
They know their art cold. They are committed to study, to building networks, and are leaders in their field of choice.
They engage with their communities. Through involvement with museums, universities, researchers, dealers, collectors, and students, they exchange information and help the whole field progress. They publish, exhibit and open their collections to serious study. They have a sense of responsibility for the art in the broadest sense, and their passion for their subject translates to a willingness to engage with others who are equally inspired.
They have a point of view. They have something new to say that moves the conversation forward, and resonates with scholars and brings renewed interest to the field.
They are in it for the art. Exceptional collectors buy what they love, and choose objects that they feel will build a strong and cohesive collection. They do not acquire artworks because they are looking to make a profit.
They are tastemakers. Great collections often result from a collector's understanding that an object has value before it becomes fashionable, when quality works are available and costs are still low.
The sources of inspiration for collectors are as individual as they are: aesthetics, historical interest, the thrill of the hunt, conservation, education, activism, or a desire to prove themselves. The intensity and dedication with which the best collectors build and research their collections sets them apart. Whatever their original motivation, the world's best collectors are united in their ability to convey ideas larger than themselves, articulate something of the human experience, and contribute to the greater good.