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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Curating a Collection: Downsizing Art

We are culling our art.

Not my work (although I do that annually).  We are saying good bye to pieces we have collected over 35 plus years.  And while I have no problem hanging artwork floor to ceiling, my husband balks at trying to stuff a life time of frames into a "downsized" space.  I understand.  So how to proceed?

Miro (as in Joan Miro, the Spanish painter and sculptor) provides some guidance.
     "In a picture it should be possible to discover new things every time you see it.  But you can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again.  You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.  For me, a picture should be like sparks.  It must dazzle like the beauty of a woman or a poem.  It must have radiance...  
                                                               (Miro: I Work Like a Gardner) out of print
That elusive quality of "dazzle" is so personal.  What causes me to think for a lifetime may not interest someone else.  Thus this curating of our own collection will be a very personal and very difficult task.   I sit here miles and miles away from the art and make notes as to which pieces I cannot live without.  The reasons vary.  Re-sale value doesn't even figure into the equation.

Some pieces bring back wonderful memories (as the time we cashed in our emergency savings and bought our very first piece together, that piece by a Spanish painter still makes me think...about many things!)  Another piece I can't live without because it makes me laugh, I smiled the first time I laid eyes on it and I still get happy seeing it.  Then there is a tiny frame by a no-name starving artist whom I adored....such under recognized talent!  But that one is second only to the piece that no one likes but others claim but yet I get lost in it, over and over it calls me back.

What to do?

More Miro:
"More than the picture itself, what counts is what it throws off, what it exhales.  It doesn't matter if the picture is destroyed.  Art can die; what matters is that it should have sown seeds on the earth...A picture must be fertile.  It must give birth to a world."

So I believe that the pieces we happily bestow on grateful family and friends will have thrown their seeds in my direction.  Whether I continue to think about them (now in another locale) or never recall them again, their seeds are in my mental repertoire of image influences.  That's a rather comforting thought: I can send them out into the world to continue being fertile (perhaps this is what Marie Kondo really means).

So back to the difficult job of curating.  Back and forth, yes or no, in and out.  Each piece takes it's turn in the line up.  If there is an incentive to be harsh it is this: we dearly love collecting and will need free space to house new acquisitions.  I know Miro was discussing the qualities he valued in his own work, but they will serve us well in attempting to cull our precious collection.

For more information on the interview from "I Work Like a Gardner" go to the link from the wonderful blog: BrainPickings by Maria Popova.

ColorFully Challenged,


  1. Ah, so many paintings, so little time (and room). When we had our interiors painted a few years ago the painter said he'd replace the picture hooks from where he took down pictures. I said "no, I want to start anew." So when it was time to rehang them, some of them didn't make the cut and were replaced by different art. My first offer was to our daughter who had already selected all my best stuff as well as the artwork I paid a fortune to frame. Then I made a stack in my guest room closet. That's my donation stack of art that we've purchased and my art that I've enjoyed but must say goodbye to. I tack a suggested value on pieces that I donate and/or information about the artist if it's not my work, as a guide for bidding/selling. The charity that the fundraiser supports makes the money and that's my reward.

  2. Loved what Kayeo had to say! A very generous gift to a worthy charity is the ultimate, "Pay It Forward"!


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