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The New Collectors

The new collectors

COLUMN
by Sylvain Levy

Sylvain Levy is a collector and, along with his wife Dominique, is one of the principals of the dslcollection, a major collection of Chinese contemporary art. Founded in 2005, the dslcollection promotes the discovery and study of Chinese contemporary artistic production. It embraces innovative technologies in order to foster greater visibility and to provide the means to share the experience of contemporary culture. Openness, the nomadic and sharing are core concepts of the dslcollection.


I just read an article written by Tim Schneider, titled “Why art dealers need to focus on new audiences or risk irrelevance?”

It raises the interesting question of “who are the new collectors”?

This new breed of collectors can be explained by the new distribution of wealth in contemporary society. These days, wealth comes less and less from inherited capital, and more from self-made fortunes; as a result, many art buyers today have very diverse aesthetic standards, references, and influences compared to previous generations. 


At the same time, they enjoy the cultural recognition, intellectual legitimization, and social status that art may offer. Contemporary art has managed to stand out from all other categories of art by becoming a fashion and lifestyle statement that is accessible to many more than ever before. This phenomenon is further strengthened by the media hype on “trendy” events such as gallery openings, while art fairs have transformed traditional art venues into “cool” catwalks. Many new collectors attend these events more to make an appearance in society pages than to actually enjoy art. As for the most sought-after artworks, it is worth mentioning the volatile and violent world we currently live in. Or at least the extent to which it is universally portrayed in the media. 


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Why are they focused mostly on contemporary art?

A second explanation behind the surge of contemporary art is the change in educational systems around the world, and the fact that collectors now start at a much younger age. Today, big spenders can easily be in their early 30s. Yet, the average younger collector seems to lack the most basic knowledge and interest in history, philosophy, sociology and theology, all of which have long been the foundation of our classical academic system.  The new collectors have been raised under a new progressive and pragmatic tutoring; the immediate necessity for simple answers and quick explanations have supported a preference for conceptual art. The lack of importance given to craftsmanship and materials has sought to reduce art to its absolute minimum, focusing mainly on the concept or message behind the work.

“Millennials focus on experiences. They seek a personal connection to art.”

Let’s talk about the millennials

Millennials have less access to financial assets than former generations at the same age. They prefer a less “upper class”, entitled access to the art world. They communicate primarily through social media and tech is practically second nature. 

Millennials focus on experiences. They seek a personal connection to art. Millennials use social media for research. They find their favorite artists online. The annual Hiscox Online Art Trade Report has shown that Instagram, due to the more visual than explanatory nature of art itself, keeps evolving into the main social channel for art. Nearly 80% of young art collectors and first-time buyers scroll their feeds to discover new artworks and emerging artists that are on the verge of their careers.

The artists who have started their careers in their “millennial years” are undergoing the same personal transformation caused by political and social influences as their potential collectors. They use unusual often sustainable materials, experiment with style and techniques and welcome their followers to interweave with their sources of inspiration.

Conclusion

More than ever before, there is a serious demand for new ways to view, buy and collect art, as well as to engage directly with artists. Artland is a very good example of this new way of reaching today’s audience. The new breed of collectors will create their own icons and leave the 21st century mark in what is regarded as art. The galleries have little choice but to embrace these new types of collectors, otherwise they risk becoming obsolete.


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Relevant sources to learn more

About Artland x dslcollection collaboration
dslcollection column by Sylvain Levy: What is a Museum today?
dslcollection column by Sylvain Levy: The Virtual Museum
dslcollection column by Sylvain Levy: The challenges facing the art world today
dslcollection profile
Visit the dslcollection


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