I admit it. I have an addiction. I’m addicted to great art in all genres and from all cultures.
In a previous article in Boise Lifestyle, I wrote of some of the benefits of owning and displaying original art. Now I’ll tell you why I’ve chosen to collect and own great art, although it might be said that I’m an extreme case.
When I was young, I nurtured myself on stories of adventure and hunts for treasure. From those stories and much life experience in the meantime, I’ve come to believe that treasure lies in things that result from human creative passion.
That creative passion can produce many different results, some tangible, some intangible and some very transient. From this creativity, to name a few, spring the performing arts, the literary arts, music, the visual arts, imaginative cuisine, athletic exceptionalism and altruistic sacrifice (arguably the highest achievement). I will focus here on the visual arts since this is a perspective view from an art collector.
So what is it that compels me to collect and display art objects throughout my home? It’s not quite an experience like Night in the Museum but close. The objects do come to life in a sense, in my imagination.
The antiquities in my collection take me back into the ancient past, sometimes long before written history and often into past civilizations that have left major marks on our collective histories.
When I look upon an Acheulean hand axe, I’m transported back hundreds of thousands to more than a million years ago when early hominids were expanding their footprint across the globe. That “Swiss army knife” of a stone tool is considered to be the earliest surviving form of aesthetic expression contrived by human ancestors. Imagine holding in your hand an object made by hand more than a million years ago!
When I see the Vinca venus figures in my collection, I try to imagine the cultures from 5,000-plus years ago whose survival so depended on their ability to procreate that cults of fertility provide us with the most compelling evidence of their existence. When I hold my Mycenaean bronze censure, I find myself wandering through the Agora in Athens or boarding a trireme off to battle the Spartans. And when I surround myself with my early African masks, I imagine nighttime on the edge of an open fire, drums resonating while masked dancers step to the rhythm in a scene that has likely not changed for millennia.
Moving into the modern era—though I’m very taken by the art of the Renaissance which is inaccessible to me except in museums—I greatly admire the audacity of the groups of artists who broke away from the rigid formulas of the past, like the impressionists, the 20th-century modernists and the expressionists. Now because they were first and were exceptional artists, and because their works are limited and greatly admired the world over, they also are relatively inaccessible. However, we have many artists right here among us whose works rival those breakaway masters in technique, execution and imagination. There are artists here whose talents are so exceptional and whose work is so accessible, it’s almost a crime not to own one.
I have acquired many works of local artists for my personal collection, and I’m sure I will continue to add more as I meet others and am exposed to their works. Some warm the heart with nostalgia of place or time, while others challenge the mind psychologically and philosophically. These works transport me, in my imagination, to wonderful places and challenging states of mind. They keep me forever entertained.