Richard Prince, Untitled (from Cowboys & Girlfriends), 1992.
A Collection must spark joy - read an interview with the collectors
For the Spring Auction we have had the pleasure to consign a number of works from an art-loving couple with more than 40 years of experience in collecting art. In the couple’s Stockholm villa art by Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons and Richard Prince hang side by side with works by Maria Friberg, Nathalia Edenmont, Mikael Jansson and many others.
The collection has developed through acquisitions from galleries in Sweden and abroad, from art fairs and auctions, as well as directly from a number of handpicked artists. The very first piece ever bought for the collection is still hanging on the couple’s wall. It is a painting on paper by American artist Lee Jaffe (b. 1950), which was bought by Mr Collector in 1976 before the couple had met. That the piece has remained in the collection testifies to their approach in building it – each work comes with its own personal memory and connection.
The couple emphasises just how much they have appreciated meeting the artists themselves – it gives the artworks an added dimension. As an example, they recount how rewarding their meetings were with artists such as Isca Greenfield-Sanders and the Starn Twins, whose work is also included in the collection.
As they have now run out of wall space the couple has decided to sell a selection of their artworks in order to make future buys from other exciting artists possible. To put things in storage is not the style of these collectors, they prefer giving others the possibility and the pleasure of owning the work instead.
Tell us about your interest in art. Why did it come to focus on contemporary art?
Could you summarise your collection, does it have a clear profile?
– Our focus has always been on contemporary art. For a while, a major part of the collection was photography, by both international and Swedish photographers. Today it is more mixed, even if we have still kept many of the photographs. We have, however, consistently bought both Swedish and international art.
” WE BOUGHT A PAINTING BY RICHARD PRINCE, WHICH WE LATER EXCHANGED FOR A PIECE BY KEITH HARING. UNFORTUNATELY, WE DIDN'T KEEP THE HARING, IT'S A PITY SINCE PRICES FOR HIS WORK HAS INCREASED. BUT REALLY, WE DON'T REGRET ANYTHING – WE'VE ALWAYS BOUGHT ART WITH LOVE RATHER THAN INVESTMENTS. ”
How has the Swedish art gallery market changed since you began collecting?
– We started to collect seriously when we got to know Thomas Nordanstad and Per Skarstedt, who at the time were running Galleri Contur. We bought several works from them. Later on we also became involved in Galleri Nordanstad-Skarstedt as partners. During the 1980s and the early 1990s we attended many a private view and dinner at the gallery. Everyone was there: artists, collectors, critics, leading intellectuals etc. It was so much fun!
Early on we found a few favourites amongst the galleries in Stockholm and we have stayed loyal to them. Apart from Galleri Contur/Nordanstad-Skarstedt they are Galleri Charlotte Lund, Wetterling Gallery and Christian Larsen.
We’ve always attended art fairs, the ones in Sollentuna and Älvsjö for example, and Market Art Fair too, of course. Today only Market remains. Another major change that happened was when most of the city’s large galleries moved to Hudiksvallsgatan [in the ‘Vasastan’ area of Stockholm]. Before we had mostly visited galleries in ‘Södermalm’ and ‘Östermalm’. The cluster of galleries at Hudikvallsgatan have now broken up and it will be exciting to see how Stockholm’s map of galleries is re-drawn in the future.
Is there a particular artist that you have followed for a long period of time?
– We saw Cindy Sherman at the Sollentuna art fair around 1989. Nordanstad-Skarstedt were exhibiting her pictures there and it was the first time her photography had been shown in Sweden. Ever since then, we have followed her work.
Have you made any mistakes with the collection; are there any buys that you regret?
– Early on we bought a painting by Richard Prince, which we later exchanged for a piece by Keith Haring. Unfortunately, we didn’t keep the Haring. It’s a pity since prices for his work has really increased in later years. But really, we don’t regret anything. We’ve always bought art because we’ve fallen in love with it rather than as investments.
Dining table 1930s by Axel Einar Hjorth for the department store NK. Bentwood chairs, with zipped leather covers by Jonas Bohlin for Gemla.
” I HAVE A DINING TABLE BY AXEL EINAR HJORTH FROM HIS TIME AT NK. IT REMINDS ME OF SWEDEN AND AN ERA OF 20TH CENTURY DESIGN HISTORY THAT I OFTEN LOOK TO FOR INSPIRATION.”
When are you the most creative?
– On the rare occasion I have time to think, or be bored even. When I can read a novel, or go to an exhibition and let my thoughts run freely. It is not easy finding time for that between running a company and being a mother, but to be honest, the problem isn't coming up with ideas - the problem is finding time to execute them!
Tell us about an art piece or object that means a lot to you?
– I have a dining table by Axel-Einar Hjorth from his time at NK. Being inlay wood, it is wholly inappropriate for a young family, but I decided not to care (I'll fix it later). It reminds me of Sweden and an era of 20th-century design history that I often look to for inspiration. It is also where we sit for all our family meals so it is probably the most important piece of furniture in the house since we all love eating!
What are you looking for at auctions?
– Right now I'm trying to find a pair of beds for my girls. I was bidding on a pair of Josef Frank rattan beds at Bukowskis last year and disappointingly lost out so I'm hoping for something similar! I'm also always on the lookout for good lighting, there is a lot of cool stuff in Sweden. I have all sorts of pieces on email alert. I love browsing auctions online, it's what I do for lockdown fun, which can be dangerous after a couple of glasses of wine on a Friday night...
The collection will be sold at Contemporary Art & Design
Viewing: 15 – 19 April, Berzelii Park 1, Stockholm.
Open: Mon–Fri 11 AM – 6 PM, Sat–Sun, 11 AM –5 PM.
Auction: 20 April, Arsenalsgatan 2, Stockholm.
Read more and explore the catalogue
Bid on artworks in the Collection
1. Mini Globe Lights designed by Beata Heuman. 2. Ludwig Bemelman’s murals for the Carlyle Hotel in New York provided the inspiration for the wall treatment in the children’s room. 3. Palm Drop fabric, designed by Beata is used for the bedhead.
Bid on objects curated by Beata