Collecting Quotes

Do you feel you must justify your tribal art addiction to your family and friends who cannot understand your love of this unique art?

Following are an ever growing group of my favorite quotes about art collecting. (It will also give you some insight into my collecting addiction; I even collect quotes about collecting!)

NOTE: I have done my best to make sure the quotes are accurate and properly attributed and apologize for any errors.

"Collecting is a form of madness. It's not a bad obsession. It's not a drug addiction. It's a good addiction. It keeps you out of trouble."
- Jo Garfield, Art and Antiques Sept 2010

"[Art collecting is] A passion pursued with discipline and Science is a discipline pursued with a passion."
- Arthur Sackler, scientist and art collector

"Collecting is an infection which is more intractable than any virus and from which there is no inoculation and no immunity."
- Arthur Sackler

"Collecting is like eating peanuts, you just can't stop."
- Unknown

"Art, in the most general sense of the word, as a phenomenon that attempts to reach beyond the everyday world and at first sight pursues no readily apparent or understandable purpose, is something that is found in all human communities. It would be impossible to imagine the existence of man without art in some form or another..."
- Buehler, Barrow, and Mountford, The Art of the South Sea Islands 1962

"The fact that not every man is an artist, but only a few, and that not everyone is capable of comprehending or appreciating a work of art, is not a valid argument against the importance of art in people's lives."
- Buehler, Barrow, and Mountford, The Art of the South Sea Islands 1962

"Objects are what matter. Only they carry the evidence that throughout the centuries something really happened among human beings."
- Claude Levì-Strauss

"The more the art dominated my life and my house, the more the house became a home."
- Burt Reynolds in Architectural Digest, Sept 1983

"The collector of today is looking for a figure of great aesthetic quality, rather than just what he can afford. The material you are working with has to move you--art has to be a physical, mental, and visual experience. A collector should not be concerned with whether the economy is high or low. He has developed beyond the economic strata of the moment."
- Allan Chait

"Because art is never an extravagance."
- Unknown

"Have perseverance, remember that learning costs, and that choice and knowledge evolve together."
- Jean Willy Mestach

"Assemble rather than collect. This means thinking of the collection as a whole, as a work of art in itself..."
- Jean Willy Mestach

"Tell me what you collect, tell me how you collect, and I will tell you who you are."
- Jean Willy Mestach

"They [psychologists] say that anything that either arouses or relaxes or induces fantasies can lead to addiction. Collecting does all three, and so is especially addictive."
- Harry Beran, Tribal Arts Summer 1996

"Its not that collecting is more noble than the other pursuits of man, its just a lot more fun."
- My adaptation of Norman McClean quote on fishing

"There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart....pursue those."
- Unknown

"This was modern art, all right, and it wasn't so bad. It made me smile. I decided that maybe if people didn't try so hard to understand it, they would get along with it better."
- Michael Kernan, Smithsonian July 1997

"Your motivation...must always be to please yourself. Follow your intuition and buy what sings to you. The objects you acquire should give you pleasure and fellowship."
- Richard Faletti, Tribal Arts Autumn 1997

"Wave after wave has brought to our shores beautiful and mysterious treasures from unknown worlds: figurines, animals, fetishes, masks, ceremonial or useful objects. They are called Primitive for want of a better name...What could never have been written is there, all the dreams and anguishes of man. The hunger for food and sex and security, the terrors of night and death, the thirst for life and the hope for survival."
- Dominique deMenil, Tribal Arts Spring 1998

"Collectors of art, especially of tribal art, may well regard themselves as temporary custodians of the objects in their care, which were made in other times and places to change other people's lives and have since become part of our lives. In time, they will become part of someone else's."
- Editor, Tribal Arts Spring 1998

"I only buy paintings that keep me awake at night."
- Donald Hess, ARTNews Sept 99

"Collecting is an illness, and probably an incurable one."
- Donald Hess, ARTNews Sept 99

"Nobody needs a painting the way you need clothing, shelter, food. What happens when you pass a gallery is that you see a picture and you suddenly want it. Buying art comes from the 'hello' experience - the picture speaks to you."
- Andre Emmerich, ARTNews Sept 99

"The idea of my collection is that it traps your senses."
- Juan Vergez, ARTNews Sept 99

"The cornerstone of great art for me is a work that makes one person exclaim, 'That's fabulous!' and another ask, 'How can you have that hanging in your house?'"
- Gordon Sondland, ARTNews Sept 99

"Collecting art is a lot like wine connoisseurship: When you drink wine, you begin with sweet white wines. As your palate matures, you graduate to the dry, dark reds."
- Katy Durant, ARTNews Sept 99

"A collector first of all, has to be a collector with a capital C. The collector with a capital C is a very rare and special species. They're people who have a quasi religious enthusiasm for art. They look at art and think about art and devote all their waking lives to the pursuit of art."
- Leo Castelli in ARTNews, October 99

"Eventually, a collection ceases to be a personal indulgence and assumes its own identity. In fact, it becomes a thing in its own right - rather like Frankenstein's monster."
- Howard Hodgkin in ARTNews, Summer 2000

"I collect these objects to learn from them. In some moment these things are going to teach me something. For me, this is like a library. These are my books."
- Jose Bedia in ARTNews, Summer 2000

"Art that makes you agitated usually has something going for it, and you can't really trust your first reaction."
- Dan Cameron in ARTNews, Sept 2000

"If people gave art just the same amount of courtesy and respect and time that they gave new people they meet, I suspect things would be a lot better."
- Marcia Tucker in ARTNews, Sept 2000

"Any great work of art revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world."
- Leonard Bernstein in ARTNews, Sept 2000

"The great innovation for collectors has to be the installment plan."
- Michael Mendelsohn in Art and Antiques, March 2001

"For us, collecting is a consuming interest and a way of life."
- Daniel Greenberg in Art and Antiques, March 2001

"I may have some pieces that are considered important, but most of the objects are things that evoke a feeling of visual pleasure. I think that part of the pleasure of collecting is to go out and find that great object and then introduce it into your environment."
- James Marinaccio in Art and Antiques, October 2001

"You're a collector when you stop decorating - when you buy something, don't have a blank spot on the wall for it and have to take something down to put it up."
- Steve Oliver in Art and Antiques, November 2001

"It's when you need storage space."
- Nancy Oliver (Steve's wife) in Art and Antiques, November 2001

"[Collecting] an illness that ought to be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act."
- Richard Matteucci in Art and Antiques, January 2002

"We collectors know that art communicates with us on different levels. Language and culture are no barriers."
- Barbara Tapp in Art and Antiques, February 2002

(This goes with the above quote) "You don't have to understand the narrative. It is the voice that is important."
- Jerome Silbergeld, in Art and Antiques, February 2002

"Certain objects are difficult to tame yet it is their very strangeness that perpetuates my curiosity and their appeal in my eyes..."
- Unknown collector in Art Tribal, Winter 2003

"We have noticed that aesthetic emotion is the major theme among collectors of these objects [tribal art]. They highlight less the formal qualities of these objects that the emotion they generate."
- Art Tribal, Winter 2003

"The thing I love about primitive art is that it's pure truth because it has no names involved. You're buying what the artist had to say, not his name."
- Billy Pearson, from 1967 quoted in Art Tribal, Spring 2003

"What distinguishes the true collector from the mere amateur is his favoring the constitution of a whole which he calls a collection."
- Robert Neuberger, in Art Tribal, Spring 2003

"A collection is not a mere 'pile' of non-differentiated items. Even if it seems chaotic there is always a logic behind the dynamic arrangement of the items and their circulation."
- Robert Neuberger, in Art Tribal, Spring 2003

"A collection to which nothing can be added and from which nothing can be removed is, in fact, dead!"
- Sigmund Freud, quoted in Robert Neuberger's article, in Art Tribal, Spring 2003

"There is something hallucinating in Oceanic art. It fascinates me, I think, although I also like the depths of Africa and the powerful objects that come from there. It's the vocabulary of Oceanic art that for me is truly compelling."
- Berend Hoekstra, in Art Tribal, Summer 2003

"It is a simple fact that I need these objects. Looking at them in books or museums is not the same. I need to surround myself with the real material..."
- Berend Hoekstra, in Art Tribal, Summer 2003

"I can't imagine what it would be like without having art as a part of our lives. I can't imagine going home to bare walls."
- Ron Pizzuti, in ARTnews, Summer 2005

"Collectors become obsessive and then addicted. You become addicted to art and you can't live without it."
- Eli Broad, in ARTnews, Summer 2005

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"
- Gabrille Roy, novelist quoted on the new Canadian $20 bill

"The right painting focused my eye and mind, and filled my soul with the peace that comes from understanding. The acquisition of works was born out of an addiction to that feeling; the need to possess and have continuous access to the source of that sensation."
- Rich Segal in Art and Antiques, October 2006

"A good collector doesn't know how his collection will develop...A collection developed on the basis of passion may not be as troublesome as a growing child, but it certainly does rise up in revolt and occasionally imposes its will, its own system, so to speak, on you."
- Marc Leo Felix in Tribal Art Traffic by Ray Corbey, 2000

"...A Picasso is a Picasso; I don't mean to be rude. But if there's weird stuff you know nothing about, you get fascinated."
- Ayers Tarantino, Art and Antiques, Dec 2008

"The collector is an artist in his own way, by the way he puts things together. You can read a person's soul from their collection."
- Ayers Tarantino, Art and Antiques, Dec 2008

"Art, in the most general sense of the word, as a phenomenon that attempts to reach beyond the everyday world and at first sight pursues no readily apparent or understandable purpose, is something that is found in all human communities. It would be impossible to imagine the existence of man without art in some form or another..."

- Buehler, Barrow, and Mountford, The Art of the South Sea Islands 1962