This past January 26th, IE hosted the round table “ARCOMadrid and Contemporary Art collecting”, attended by a capacity crowd more than 100 people. The event was chaired by Arantza de Areilza, Dean of the IE School of Arts & Humanities, and included as panelists Carlos Urroz, the director of ARCO, Elisa Hernando, a former economist who is now a successful art advisor, Francisco Gonzalez, a successful lawyer and collector, and Julieta Rafecas, an art historian with a wide experience in both the primary and secondary art markets.
Carlos Urroz began the panel discussion by explaining in general how art fairs work and the world of collectors, and then focused specifically on the fair that he runs, emphasizing the ways to identify and evaluate a collector. Afterwards he described the different initiatives that had been introduced under his mandate in the fair, e.g. First Collector, and the different activities that are being jointly organized with other institutions such as the Fundación ICO or the Fundación La Caixa.
Elisa Hernando started with a brief analysis of the art market and the nature of investment, which often informs the acquisition of a work of art, with a special emphasis on the Mei Moses Index. She then explained the interesting initiative that she runs in ARCO, First Collector, whose goal is to introduce beginners to the world of collecting. This project, linked to the ARCO art fair, is individually customized to the interests and budget of each participant. At the end of the workshop, participants receive a dossier at the entrance of the fair which contains specific information about available works that comply with their criteria.
Francisco Cantos, the only presenter not professionally involved in the art world, spoke above all about the emotional aspects of collecting art, underscoring his remarks with the observation “collecting is addictive and Freud classified it as a disease.” He also talked about his experience as a collector and the owner of a large art collection, and shared several photos of works he owns with the audience. According to Francisco, “the benefit of acquiring a work of art for subjective reasons, that is to say on impulse and not as an investment, is that you can enjoy the work, and if you are wrong [about its future value] there is no drama.”
Julieta Rafecas, pick up the theme of how collecting can become an obsession and how, in fact, it can move from a mere activity to a very way of life. She explored how a large art collection is managed, detailing how something that starts as a hobby can end up being one’s legacy. In certain cases this can mean the creation of a specific museum. In other cases, however, it can go beyond this, and she noted the Guggenheim collection which today serves as the basis of a global museum brand. She also talked about certain oddities such as the Anita and Poju Zabludowicz Center, whose collection of contemporary art is housed in a Methodist church in London. She concluded the session by remarking “the collections of today are the foundations of the museums of tomorrow.”
After the presentation there was a round of questions, which led to an interesting discussion between the panelist and members of the IE Community.