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Curating Your Thoughts

“The act of collecting is about looking, studying, sorting, sifting, concentrating, weighing, and making decisions. It’s a lot of work. I got better at it by being rigorous. I couldn’t buy everything and it’s embarrassing to have a lot of odds and ends that don’t make sense, so I learned to narrow my focus.”
—Carol Vena-Mondt, designer/collector
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Louise Lawler What Goes on Here, 1990 cibachrome

Collecting is, in many ways, a form of editing. There is so much art produced and exhibited that to begin to form a collection, you need to make choices and sift through the wealth of visual-arts production.

One of the best ways to begin is by asking precise questions. Is there a medium—video, photography, drawing, sculpture, or painting—to which you’re particularly drawn? Are you into new genres and mixed-media? What’s your budget and spending limit? How much room do you have to exhibit the work?

Once you’ve narrowed the scope, take the time to study your own tastes and proclivi-
ties, and look, look, and look some more. Do your research as if you were your own personal curator. If you love works on paper, you might investigate the difference between intaglio process prints and aquatints. You might look more closely at drawings to discover new techniques in pencil, charcoal, chalk, ink, or collage. Photography becomes a more complex medium with its many processes such as calotyping, etching, and photogravure. While exploring, you’ll discover new works and directions to go in. Most important, trust and have faith in your own artistic likes and dislikes—you are collecting for yourself, after all.

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    101 Art Collecting

    Want to be the next Henry Clay Frick or Isabella Stewart Gardner? Dwell offers some pointers on starting your own collection.

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