Art & Fashion – the ART of Shopping

 Who says that art should be only relegated to museums and galleries?

20 ELEMENTS, Joel Shapiro

Many coffee shops and restaurants (even some hair salons) like to display art from unknown artists, and if we’re lucky we can sometimes find work from celebrated artists we know of, in select high end design/furniture shops. There’s Art and then there’s Art!

I enjoyed looking at Picasso’s while dining in a restaurant in Las Vegas.  Mind you, it was the Picasso restaurant at the Bellagio and yes, his original paintings are displayed throughout the restaurant.  An art gallery within a restaurant.  But renowned art in a shopping mall? When have you seen that?

We already know that art and fashion have  something in common.  But do we dare draw the line between art and shopping in a mall?

NorthPark Centre in Dallas, Texas is no ordinary mall.  I’ve been there and as far as shopping in a mall goes (a mall is not my favourite place to shop or hang out), it’s a cut above. This year the centre is celebrating their 50th anniversary, and in conjunction is hosting an exhibition this fall called “Art Meets Fashion.”

Lee Ann Torrans 
Lee Ann Torrans

Raymond Nasher, who built NorthPark, and his wife, Patsy, were big collectors and proudly displayed the works they acquired throughout the shopping concourse because they believed that art should be seen, and not just in museums and galleries. Their daughter, Nancy Nasher and her husband, David Haemisegger, have given their promise to ensure that this mission lives on. They’ve expanded the NorthPark collection and helped to transform the shopping centre into one of the most visited public gallery spaces in America. 

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol

So… (apparently it’s not proper to start a sentence with so….but I say “so what?”) now you can buy your Louis Vuitton or Gucci with a side of Roy Lichtenstein or Frank Stella.   How nice is that?

    Anish Kapoor North Park
Anish Kapoor North Park

Now, if only every mall was like this…what a wonderful art world it would be!

What do you think about this?

The ART of Collecting ART – building a great collection

First off, I am no authority on collecting fine art but I admire beautiful paintings and would like expert advice on how to build a worthwhile collection.  This means being true to my tastes while acquiring pieces that are of value.

Marc Chagall - I and the Village
Marc Chagall – I and the Village
Pablo Picasso - Girl Before a Mirror
Pablo Picasso – Girl Before a Mirror

If you’re like most people, you know how to buy art on a piece-by-piece basis, but may not be all that accomplished at formulating a plan for making multiple acquisitions over the long haul, or in other words, building a collection. You can find art you like just about anywhere you look and in an incredible variety of subject matters, mediums and price ranges, but that can be confusing as well as intimidating. So how do you wade through it all and decide what direction to go in? How do you relate one purchase to the next? How do you organize or group your art together? How do you present it? And most importantly, how do you do all these things well? This is what collecting is all about; it’s the ultimate case of controlled purposeful buying.

Great collectors are often as well known and widely respected as the art they collect. Take the Rockefeller collection, the Phillips collection or the Chrysler collection, just to name a few. Collectors like these are famous because they demonstrate just as much talent in selecting and grouping their art as the artists show in creating it. Likewise, each work of art in a great collection commands premium attention as well as a premium price not only because it’s good, but also because of the company it keeps.

Andy Warhol - Ingrid Bergman
Andy Warhol – Ingrid Bergman

What makes a great collector great is his or her ability to separate out specific works of art from the millions of pieces already in existence and assemble them in such a way as to increase or advance our understanding of that art in particular or of the evolution of art in general. In any mature collection, the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts, the collector comes to be accepted as a respected authority and in exceptional cases, goes on to set the standards, determine the trends and influence the future of collecting for everyone.

Regardless of how you view your collecting, whether serious or recreational, there are techniques that you can use to maximize not only the quality and value of your art, but also your own personal enjoyment, appreciation and understanding of that art. Step one is being true to your tastes. This means acknowledging that you like certain types of art regardless of what you think you’re supposed to like or what seems to be the current rage. All great collectors share this trait; that’s one thing makes their collections stand out. When personal preference is ignored in favor of the status quo, one collection begins to look just like the next.  A few people dictate, the masses follow, everyone walks in lock-step, and the art you see from collection to collection becomes boring and repetitive.

Collectors who aren’t afraid to express themselves yield exactly the opposite results.


A few quotes I really like:

“Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing” ~ Marc Chagall

“Art is literacy of the heart” ~ Elliot Eisner

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance” – Aristotle




Art/Lifestyle/Collecting: The ART of BUYING 

herb2Herb & Dorothy
(2008) Directed by Megumi Sasaki proves that you don’t have to be a Rockefeller to collect Art.

Herb & Dorothy is one of the most fascinating documenties I’ve ever seen.  It’s about Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a working class couple who had amassed a priceless art collection in their tiny one-bedroom apartment in New York City. They had no formal training in art collecting. They bought art the way any amateur collector shops: for the love of the individual pieces and the thrill of a good deal. But you don’t accumulate a priceless collection of anything by accident. Herb and Dorothy developed a methodical system for scouting, assessing, and purchasing art. When it came to mastering their hobby, the Vogels were self-trained professionals.

Herb Vogel never earned more than $23,000 a year. Born and raised in Harlem, Vogel worked for the post office in Manhattan. He spent nearly 50 years living in a 450-square-foot one-bedroom apartment with his wife, Dorothy, a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. They lived frugally. They didn’t travel. They ate TV dinners. Aside from a menagerie of pets, Herb and Dorothy had just one indulgence: art. But their passion for collecting turned them into unlikely celebrities, working-class heroes in a world of Manhattan elites.herb1

While their coworkers had no idea, the press noticed. The New York Times  labeled the Vogels the “In Couple” of New York City. They counted minimalist masters Richard Tuttle and Donald Judd among their close friends. And in just four decades, they assembled one of the most important private art collections of the 20th century, stocking their tiny apartment floor-to-ceiling with Chuck Close sketches, paintings by Roy Lichtenstein, and sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy. Today, more than 1,000 of the works they purchased are housed in the National Gallery, a collection a curator there calls “literally priceless.” J. Carter Brown, the museum’s former director, referred to the collection as “a work of art in itself.”

As I said, it’s a fascinating story and a bit of a fairytale.

In their apartment - ART, cats, fish & turtle tank.
In their apartment – mostly ART but also filled with cats, fish & turtle tanks.

Source: an article written By Jed Lipinski for

Official Trailer:

Art Collecting: what makes good ART – Part Two

A continuation of my post from last Monday on the Art of Collecting ART and What Makes Good Art – answers from Art World Pros.  However this discussion will always be continuing because everyone’s opinion differs.  Here is one more:

Damien Hirst's Spot Painting - Gagosian gallery, Paris. As the title promises, Spot Paintings features borrowed and newly created works of art featuring the UK-based artist’s signature dotted paintings. Different colors, sizes, and shapes were all variations on the theme
Damien Hirst’s Spot Painting – Gagosian gallery, Paris.  As the title promises, Spot Paintings features borrowed and newly created works of art featuring the UK-based artist’s signature dotted paintings. Different colors, sizes, and shapes were all variations on the theme.

Scott M. Levitt, Director, Fine Arts, Bonhams & Butterfields, Los Angeles: 

Quality, quality, quality. This is the mysterious and subjective key to good art. In all periods of art there are good and bad works of art. I find that defining quality in representational art is easier than in modern and abstract art. The other key word is looking. Everything looks good when you first start looking at art, as you have nothing to compare it to. As you hone your eye, you begin to distinguish between good and bad. The more you look at art, the easier it is to determine what is good and what is bad.

Claude Monet Landscape Painting
Claude Monet Landscape Painting

Also, there are two schools of thought as to what is good and bad. Some people believe that good and bad are personal distinctions and entirely in the eye of the viewer. Others believe that there is good art and crap art and no one can tell them otherwise. I think the real answer is somewhere in between, and this is based entirely on the quality of the eye of the viewer.

Each area of art requires its own set of criteria when determining good and bad, i.e. painting, sculpture, printmaking, craft, conceptual etc. Personally I hold originality to be important in this determination. For contemporary artists that can be tough. Most of what is being created today is, in my personal opinion, not very original. To me a Mark Rothko is a masterpiece, while a thousand color-field artists after him are not. I find Pop artists brilliant and Jeff Koons completely reactionary. There is originality in contemporary art, but it is tough to find.

Mark Rothko contemplation
Mark Rothko contemplation

It is also tough when the art market influences good and bad. I would like to say that monetary value determines quality, but unfortunately they are often unrelated, as many factors can influence the value of artwork other than quality. Damien Hirst is an interesting and relatively unique artist, but I don’t think his prices at auction reflect how good he is. When one of his works is worth more than a good Monet landscape, something is very amiss.

Jeff Koons Popeye Series, Serpentine Gallery Exhibiton, London. 2003, Oil on canvas 274.3 x 213.4 cm © 2008 Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons Popeye Series, Serpentine Gallery Exhibiton, London. 2003, Oil on canvas 274.3 x 213.4 cm © 2008 Jeff Koons

I think the best “take away” here is that if you want to know what is good and what is not, you have to get out and look for yourself and make that decision. Take a year… and make it a rule to visit museums and galleries every weekend and read art-related books and magazines as much as possible in as many art fields as possible. You will have your answer. If you don’t use this approach, you will officially have no eye or ability to make these distinctions.

If you are in this purely for your own collecting interests, then look at as much art as possible in all fields and eras as I have just said. If you are in it purely to make money, then buy a subscription to Artnet or E*Trade. It’s your call.

Link from last week:

The ART of collecting ART – What Makes Good ART?

When it comes to art everyone seems to have an opinion. Of course everyone has different tastes and what someone loves, someone else might despise. But there is art…and then there is ART!

Elan Fine Art Gallery, Vancouver
Elan Fine Art Gallery, Vancouver

Have you ever wondered how experienced art world professionals separate out the best art from the rest?

I came across a website about the business of ART by Alan Bamberger, a San Francisco art consultant, advisor, and independent appraiser of all aspects of original works of art including art-related documents, and art reference books. He has been selling art since 1979 and has been consulting and appraising for artists, galleries, businesses, organizations and collectors since 1985.  He is the author of “The Art of Buying Art.”

Mr. Bamberger asked some Art World Pros for answers.  Here they are:

Brian Gross, Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco: Art that is unique in conception and well executed.

DeWitt Cheng, freelance art writer and critic, Bay Area, CA: Good visual art looks stunningly right and, in retrospect, obvious, or inevitable– yet it’s also continually surprising. It is a powerful paradox. How can someone have possibly made this? How in the world could it not have been made?

A magnificent piece by Joseph Kyle brings life to a downtown office.
A magnificent painting by Joseph Kyle hangs in a downtown office bringing light and life to an already beautiful space.

Cheryl Haines, Haines Gallery, San Francisco: Clear intention, unwavering dedication, patience, perseverance, self awareness and the drive to make for yourself and no one else.

Robert Berman, Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles: Reality is by agreement. The reality of art is usually by some kind of agreement. The arbiters are the museums, the museum curators, the people who spend their lives and their time actually being critical of what they see and judging what they see. If you add in four or five art critics who are then able to write about it, if you get four or five major collectors who are passionate about what they collect to patronize it, and several major auction houses to auction it, then a consensus or vetting process begins to unfold. Of course there’s magic dust involved, so this is not a sure way, but it’s a safe way to go about judging what is good art.

by Marc Séguin
by Marc Séguin

Catharine Clark, Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco: When it has its own internal logic. It took me a long time to get to this place, but that is the answer that I now give. I used to say that good art is like porn; you know it when you see it.

Mat Gleason, Coagula Art Journal, Los Angeles: The moment and the memory. It has to be something that engages you, on one of a million levels, in person, and establishes a memory that remains positive. This can be an artwork that challenges you and then makes you think about it days later or one that seduces you and delivers pleasant feelings days later. There are as many ways to produce this 1-2 effect as there are artists, but so much art that grabs you is glib and you forget it or is lousy and only recalled as something you sped past or upon which you only regret wasting your day.

Robert Shimshak, Collector, Berkeley, CA:

Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall

Good art is timeless. It will assume a new relevance to each generation, and to yourself as you grow. It will connect to the past and feed the future. It has a simple and rigorous beauty that commands your gaze and thoughts whenever you look at it. The best work will break your heart. As a collector, you will know it when you see it. It’s personal. You will not have to be convinced by anyone to acquire it; it will be something you simply must have. It is like a good marriage that completes a feeling inside you, something that lasts forever and grows with time.

Marsea Goldberg, New Image Art, Los Angeles: Originality, representational of the time when it was created, passion, a frame of reference, freshness, intellectual content, and is uniquely identifiable as the work of that particular artist. The art should effortlessly have as many of these characteristics as possible– or none at all. It also has to have magic; if you try too hard, the magic could fly away. The artist needs to have a vision and it’s important that the work doesn’t go into a dead end. It’s helpful if the artist has the capacity to reinvent their creativity through various skills and mediums.

Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator Emeritus, Achenbach Foundation, San Francisco: It is truly an unanswerable question without stating something that appears pretentious… the perception of what makes art “good ” revolves around the application of that difficult word, “taste” which I observe to be in considerably short supply in society today. People are not willing to take the time and effort to develop their own personal sensibilities through study or reflection but are prone to “go with the flow” from the “tastemakers” so as not to be seen as square and out of touch… so sad…

Jack Hanley, Jack Hanley Gallery, New York: I like something where the intensity of the experience of the person making it comes through. Maybe somebody is turned on by the nature of the materials, a psychological issue or some kind of narrative. Maybe some people have greater intensities of experience than others. What makes art good on a grander scale is how extraordinary and profound the components of those experiences are. Some artists are maybe better than others at tapping into their own idiosyncrasies and conveying them to others.

Justin Giarla, The Shooting Gallery, White Walls & 941 Geary, San Francisco: What makes good art is when you see a piece from across the room, you immediately fall in love with it without knowing anything about it and are in love with it forever.

Paul Kyle, Private Art Dealer, Elan Fine Art, Vancouver: A good work of art for me, is a piece that has the ability to awaken and remind me of my essence or the highest aspect of my being, if you will.  To successfully accomplish this, I as viewer, must be open to allowing the work to reveal itself to me without pre-judgement, what I call contempt prior to investigation. Also, a great work of art gets better the more it is viewed.  Often it is the work that has an immediate impact that is the one that wears thin over time, being the one with little real substance, as opposed to the one that takes time to reveal itself as the one with the greatest depth and meaning. There are certain elements however that the work must contain before the experience I seek is possible. Two elements that I look for in art are: Beauty and Elegance.  Beauty, not referring to “pretty” but beauty referring to directness and honesty.  Elegance is where there is nothing that can be added or taken away from the individual work.  This can only be accomplished by an artist with great technical competence and authentic original vision.

Alan Bamberger, itinerant artster, San Francisco: At its most fundamental level, good art is an effective combination of concept, vision and mastery of medium (the ability to get the point across). Good art is also uncompromisingly honest, unselfconscious, bold, ambitious, enlightening, original, challenging, and a feast for the senses. It doesn’t necessarily have to have all of these qualities, but at the very least it has to keep you coming back for more… and never ever bore.

art1An easy-to-understand book on how to buy, sell, evaluate, appraise, and collect art. Soft cover; 284 pages. By Alan S. Bamberger, noted art expert, author, and syndicated columnist. Available at



ART/Out There: a guide to choosing ART for your home  

Design, Art, Travel, Shopping – these are some of my favourite things!outthere3

Maria Gabriela Brito is an art collector and interior designer living in New York City and the author of Out There: Design, Art, Travel, Shopping ($60USD – Pointed Leaf Press).  outthere1The book is an insider’s guide to designing interiors and developing an art collection.  OUT THERE is a fresh and exclusive look behind the scenes of a passionate and exciting new design authority on mixing contemporary art with home decoration. It features highlights of Brito’s favorite contemporary artists, photographs of eight New York City apartments that she designed, and an extensive look at favorite galleries, shops, and hotels worldwide.

The following is taken from her interview by Danielle Pergament for Allure Magazine.

Rather than trying to match art to your furniture or throw pillows, look for work that you love but that is on the edge of your comfort zone in terms of brightness.  Color is the fastest way to bring life to a room.   

Go BIG.  The bigger the piece, the more it will transform a room.  Don’t shy away from a large piece. People tend to choose art that is too small for the space.  Take your cue from the furniture your art will hang near.  If your sofa is 70 inches long, go for a piece that’s 50 inches:  if the couch is 96 inches long, try something that measures 80 inches.  If you can’t find one really big image you like, you can cheat by placing two side by side.  The bottom of the frame should sit six to ten inches above the top of the furniture, and the closer the top edge is to the ceiling, the higher your ceilings will look.

Present it Properly.  If you’re buying art from a gallery, follow their framing or mounting suggestions, which usually reflects the artist’s wishes.  As a general rule, stretched canvases don’t need a frame, and large photographs look best mounted in acrylic or Plexiglas.  If the colors of the artwork are muted, consider a colorful frame to liven it up.

Advance your Placement.  Before you automatically hang a new piece in the living room, think about your entire home.  Instead of the predictable console and mirror in a foyer, imagine a huge, vibrant print/painting there.  I especially love to incorporate smaller pieces of art in unexpected places, like a bathroom or kitchen.  In the bedroom, go a bit more subdued – black-and-white photography, for example – to keep the room peaceful.outthere2

How to hang a gallery wall.  Hallways make great mini galleries, but it can be tricky to hang lots of pieces of varying sizes.  Here’s how to do it: take a piece of butcher paper the size of the wall (or tape paper panels together) and put it on the floor.  Arrange all the artwork you want to hang on the paper.  You can play around until it really looks right, then use a pencil to mark exactly where each should go.  Tape the paper to the wall and hang each piece on its designated mark.  Finally, rip the paper carefully.  Voilà  – your own gallery.