The following is an excerpt of an article by Culture Editor Ewan Gillings which will feature in our first print issue, to be released on 15th January.
Find out how to get your own copy of the issue here.
Back in the autumn of 2017 I was fortunate enough to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine in the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow.
It was an entirely surreal experience; here in front of me was a painting that I had seen copied and replicated countless times, hung in dentists offices and plastered across Google Images. I was one of only two people in the room; here I was,standing in silence and basically alone, in front of one of the most famous pieces of art produced by one of the most famous artists of all time.
Seeing Lady with an Ermine in person truly opened it up to me; it was a far more complete experience than simply looking at some poor quality print, or some pixels on a screen. The same is true for all works of art; one can never grasp the thickness of the paint on a Monet, nor the sheer scale of a Raphael, without physically experiencing the artwork in person. These features are crucial to the image; they complete it, and excentuate the character of the artist.
It is little wonder, then, that such works of art would be in high demand. The history of art collecting is long and varied; it is one that intertwines with all aspects of society, from royalty to populous. However, in more recent times art collecting has become less and less about the allure of the artwork, and more and more about seeing art as a commodity.
The famous auctions houses of Christies and Sotheby’s have become, from my perspective at least, little more than playgrounds for the world’s richest, many of whom spend exorbitant amounts of money on artworks that they have little passion for. In fact, their interest is mostly limited to the growth in the value of the painting. By this, I do not mean to attack all art collectors; my grievances are specifically reserved for those who are in contempt of the art that they are buying, are not appreciative of it, and buy it simply to make them even more money in the future.
It is for these reasons that the growth and increase in the private collection of artwork worries me.
Read the rest of this piece in the print issue, to be released on the 15th January.
Join us to celebrate the launch of the magazine on the 18th January in The Goose pub, Selly Oak.