The Four Species of Art Collector | Which Are You?

What drives an art collector? Is it the thrill of the hunt, the desire to influence culture, cultivate knowledge or perhaps, something less tangible? Well, of course - it varies. Collectors, like personality types, are driven by their own set of concerns, each with their own strengths, vulnerabilities and ideas to spread. From lovers of the bold to the beautiful, here is our taxonomy of the four species of art collector. 

Charles Blackman 'Orpheus - Metamorphosis'

The Trailblazer

The Trailblazer isn’t here to follow the crowd. Not a fan of traditional museums nor acquiring for the thrill, this group is drawn to the freshest, most daring acts in art. Their investments stretch the bounds of art, while also teetering on the cusp of recognition. Notable Trailblazers include the mastermind behind Mona, David Walsh and Corbett Lyon - the curator and collector behind Lyon House Museum in Kew Melbourne.

Our tip: If you’re after art that rattles the canon, consider the hottest in emerging art. In his take, Philippe Le Miere drags Nolan and his Kelly into the twenty-first century.

Philippe Le Miere - 'What Happens After Sidney Nolan Ned Kelly?'

The Connoisseur

Seen reading art books and wandering museums, The Connoisseur is the art market’s intellectual. Their collection spawns from a devotion to culture or history, paying close attention to the context, subtlety and the philosophical depth of each work. While they are unswayed by trend, Connoisseurs do consider expert opinion - and sometimes, can be experts themselves, like art dealer Joseph Brown who thoughtfully built and ultimately, donated his formidable collection.

Our tip: If you’re interested in Australian history or culture, a compelling place to look is Australian Modernism. There’s also Ethel Spowers, who was pivotal in bringing modernism to Australia. A part of the Grosvenor School, her absence in the story of Australia’s art history has only recently been redressed.

Ethel Spowers - 'Durham Cathedral' 

The Hunter

The Hunter knows all art isn’t created equal and they’re after the best. This breed of collector sees art as a trophy and the art market as its habitat. They’re gifted at finding and procuring the most desirable objects, building a collection that can secure their family’s future. For these swift strikers, the acquisition itself is a work of art in its own right.

Our Tip: If you’re after a trophy, check out the expansive, iconic, sumptuous three-course dinner that is John Olsen’s ‘Torres Strait’. 

John Olsen - 'Torres Strait' 

The Art Lover  

Not to suggest that other collectors don’t love art, it’s just that The Art Lover can fall in love with a piece. For them, art is an end in itself - an emotional expression of being, transcendent of status or investment. Their method is driven by an instinct that may seem chaotic, but ultimately can flower into a grand vision. For Art Lovers, their great sense of taste is employed to sniff out their perfect piece.

Our Tip: Browse lots of art. Within reason, don’t let yourself be restricted by era, artist or a stringent budget - the more art you see, the more likely you’ll fall in love. Also remember however, that lust is different from love. If you see a work that grabs you, take a moment to ensure your feelings are the real deal before moving in together. 


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