The Cycle: A Brief Guide to Collecting Art

An Original Rant by Randy Gladman for

Seek out a young artist whose work you love.  Find her work online, in a gallery, discussed in magazines, or sprayed on walls in alleyways.  Identify with the intelligence of the work, not just the aesthetics; remember that only new ideas that rattle your brain are relevant and worthy.  Ensure the artist is a stranger rather than a friend.  Engage the machine that supports her career.  Visit her gallery.  Absorb her website.  Understand her artist statement.  Read publications about her work.  Go to her exhibition openings.  Admire from afar.  Stay aloof.  Wax eloquently and enthusiastically about her brilliance and importance.  Post on social media your certainty that she should be her country’s representative at the next Venice Biennale.  Rail at the ignorance of dealers and curators when her work isn’t included in Miami during Art Basel week.  Rant about how she is more significant than certain superstar artists with comparable output.


Speak to her dealer.  Commission an artwork.  Offer direction on scope but don’t require specific content or aesthetic; respect creative freedom and integrity.  Agree to spend more than you should; make it hurt.  Give her the time to fabricate effectively.  Worry about the purchase you just made as you pay the large deposit but don’t share this emotion with anyone but your therapist.   Feel impatient while waiting for it to be completed.  Regret the commission for a few nights.  Get over it.  Brag that you’ve commissioned an important artist to make a piece for your collection.  Recommend art world friends write about this artist.  Love the commissioned piece when it is delivered, even if you don’t like it.  Facebook, Tumblr, Tweet, Blog, Instagram it; use hashtags.  Display it prominently in your home.  Don’t tell visitors about anything else in your home.  Advise everyone to buy something from this artist as well.  End the madness of living in beautiful home with expensive furnishings but no contemporary art.  Make a statement.  Enjoy.


Own the obligation to support culture.  Glow with pride when public attention is increasingly focused on your artist.  Don’t brag that you’ve been collecting her work since…  Resist temptations to claim some responsibility for her success.  Fight disappointment when you are not recognized for your early promotion of her career (which no one remembers).  Defend your actions when accused of jumping on the bandwagon.  Allow yourself to lose interest in her as she becomes a major figure in the art world.  Talk about her less and less as she becomes more and more famous.  Resent the fact that you can no longer afford her work.  Realize her ideas have always been synthetic, decorative, cute, and nostalgic.  Move the artwork you commissioned from the living room to your bedroom and then to the basement or summer house.  Disagree with what you read about her in art magazines; cancel your subscriptions to publications that cover her too frequently.  Complain that she is overexposed when you see her work displayed in Miami during Art Basel week.  Skip the Venice Biennale the year she represents her country.  Say I told you so.  Track her prices at auction and call Sotheby’s to place your piece in the Evening Sale.  Spend the proceeds on a commission from a new young artist you just discovered.



All images by Winnie Truong courtesy Erin Stump Projects.

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