“To live and work between art is a necessity”. Meet Antoine de Werd – a highly committed Dutch art collector.

Since Dutch art collector and lawyer Antoine de Werd started collecting art almost thirty years ago, not a day has passed without some kind of involvement in art. This enthusiastic approach is clearly reflected in his inspiring home, which is a testament to his passionate commitment to art.   

Antoine de Werd in front of works by Yves Scherer, Heringa Van Kalsbeek, Daniel van Straalen and Jackie Saccoccio. On the right tribal works from Africa and Papua New Guinea.

Name: Antoine de Werd
Location: The Hague, The Netherlands
Started collecting in year: 1988
Number of artworks in collection: Approx. 500 (including Tribal and antique pieces)
Name of collection: Collection Antoine de Werd
Instagram: @antoinedewerd

How did you become an art collector?
My interest in art in general was passed on to me by my parents, while my love for contemporary art started in the late eighties. That was the time I studied law and had friends with the same interests. We visited many art exhibitions together, in our country and abroad. One cannot become an art collector without a love for art. So that was the beginning. Becoming a collector was not a goal. It just happened. The art itself is my driving force, not the making of a collection.

How would you describe yourself as an art collector?
That is not an easy question, but I will give it a try. I am a very inspired collector. No day passes without me spending some time on art, be it finding new artists and art on Instagram, reading and/or talking about art, visiting museums, whatever. Art is a daily activity, like brushing my teeth. I like the hunt, trying to find the perfect piece, which can be an addition to my collection. To live and work between art is a necessity. In some ways, you can call me obsessed.

What was the first artwork you purchased?
That was a big monochrome painting of the fundamental painter Tomas Rajlich. This was my first serious step. I would like to forget the two or three acquisitions before that, which were figurative paintings. Those works already bored me shortly after my purchase and I therefore sold them and started again.

Art is a daily activity, like brushing my teeth. I like the hunt, trying to find the perfect piece, which can be an addition to my collection. To live and work between art is a necessity. In some ways, you can call me obsessed.

What is the main motivation behind your collecting?
If you like the hunt, you love art and you are obsessed, isn’t that a motivation? No deeper motivation is needed in my opinion. I sought and bought art, and that is what I am still doing.

Describe your collection in three words.
Contemporary, abstract, strong.

Is there any particular type of art that appeals to you or anything that unites all the works in your collection?
Abstract paintings especially appeal to me, but they don’t have to necessarily be made of paint and linen. The painting may exist of different materials, like tarp, steel, concrete, corrugated plates or epoxy. What unites the collection is the size, the power and the presence of the works. I don’t like small poetic works of art.

What considerations do you take into account before you buy a piece of art?
First of all it has to appeal to my eyes. I have to like the impression it makes. If I like the work, then I will want to know more about the artist and need to see more of his works. The Internet can be very helpful. I always then have to ask myself whether the work is complementary to my collection. Last but not least: the price. Is the work affordable?

Borden Capalino, tribal and Asian pieces, Quistrebert brothers. Chairs from Osvaldo Borsani (Techno), purple velvet sofa from B&B Italia, ceramic tables from India Mahdavi, standing golden riffle Lamp from Philippe Starck (Flos).

What do you enjoy the most: The hunt associated with collecting art or the joy of ownership?
Although the hunt is, without a doubt, very appealing, I think, in the end, ownership is more important.

How important is it for you to meet the artist behind the artwork?
I don’t find it necessary to meet the artist behind the artwork. I have many favourite works, while I never met the artist. In general I like artists and their company. Sometimes they become good friends.

Do you have a desire to have your collection shown?
I don’t have that desire if you mean showing it to the public. I find that too much of a hassle. Showing the collection in magazines, TV and on the Internet is what I prefer.

What are the wishes for the future of your collection? What would you like to see happen to it?
Personally, I would like to have more ‘avant garde’ works of art. I mean work that isn’t appealing at first sight. Furthermore, I would like to live in a loft, because it gives better opportunities to show more work (instead of having most of it in storage). I do not have special plans for my collection. I just want to collect, and I hope one of my children will continue collecting.

What work of art do you wish you owned if the price tag did not matter
In my dreams, I would like to have a big Cy Twombly.

David Bade (orange sculpture) Peppi Bottrop, Graham Wilson, Alek O, Hannah Perry, Anke Weyer and Daniel van Straalen (with the orange basketball).

How do you know that a work is a really great piece of art?
That is difficult to define. Most of the great pieces of art are well known. If I see a work for the first time and the work/artist is not well known, it is almost impossible to determine whether it is or will become a great piece of art.

What is the best advice you have given or been given in terms of art collecting?
My advice is always to see as much art as possible, live or via internet/Instagram/Facebook. Fairs can be helpful, but it is difficult to focus exclusively on art during a fair. And follow your intuition. I cannot remember having received good advice, which I followed. Of course artists and gallerists give sound advice, but I follow my own path. The role of a partner can be important. My wife, who has her own house and her own collection, is indispensable.

Shield from Papua New Guinea, statue from Indonesia, Jemima Brown (the sitting woman) and Keith Farquhar.
Standing piece by Yves Scherer and a statue by a Dutch artist (a fighter pilot who is meditating instead of bombing).
A big blue piece by Alek O, in front of it a Dogon Mask, and works from Thomas van Line and Michael Tedja.
Bedroom with Patrick Hill, Kasper Sonne and Evan Robarts and two embroidered textiles (Suzani’s) from Uzbekistan.
A toilet with graffiti from artists and works of art from Albrecht Tubke, Paul Smith and Nathan Azhderian with tribal masks from Africa.