Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Photography Collectors in the 2009 ARTnews 200

ARTnews has published its annual roundup of the largest, most active art collectors in the world (here, magazine cover at right, via ARTnews), and it's pretty near impossible to use it as any kind of map of the photography market, except in the broadest sense. Each of the collectors is designated by their geographic location(s), how they came into their money, and the general categories of their often varied collections.

There are a total of 10 collectors who have the word "photography" in their bio:

Cristina and Thomas W. Bechtler-Lanfranconi
Leonora and Jimmy Belilty
Joop van Caldenborgh
Danielle and David Ganek
Ydessa Hendeles
Martin Z. Margulies
Lisa S. and John A. Pritzker
Aby J. Rosen
Chara Schreyer
Sheikh Saud bin Mohammad bin Ali al-Thani

This is certainly a good list as a starter. What's hard to reconcile is that better than 3/4s of the names on the overall list are designated by "modern" or "contemporary" art, so nearly all of them could (and likely do) collect photography as a subset of their larger efforts, often writing big checks. There are also quite a few notable pure play photography collectors who are not on the list, but who certainly have the power to move the market when they want.

So I suppose this kind of list brings with it a combination of congratulations and condolences, depending on your perspective. If you wanted to be on the list and were, or didn't want to be on the list and weren't (likely for privacy reasons), congratulations are in order. If on the other hand, you wanted to be included and weren't, or didn't want to be listed but somehow ended up there, you have our deepest sympathies.

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