Happiness is ephemeral. And collecting, like anything else that people do in exaggeration, can be pursued neurotically and obsessively. But art and much of culture as we now perceive and appreciate them could scarcely exist without collectors. The collecting activities of museums, foundations and private individuals enable the general public to experience art, which surely provides countless moments of greater and smaller happiness.
Collecting naturally also makes some artists happy: not solely because collectors are often the buyers of the artworks, but “also because this is associated with appreciation and care for the purchased objects,” as Tora Urup explains in an interview in our new print magazine. Her glass art and many other wonderful glass objects are on display in the “Eiswasserglas” (“Ice Water Glass”) exhibit at the Gewerbemuseum (Museum of Applied Arts and Design) in Winterthur. These pieces were collected by the Hamburg-based photographer Hans Hansen, who is now showing them to the public for the first time, along with surprising photos of his objects.
How fulfilling – to leave unspoken that overworked word “happiness” – collecting can be is also a theme in an article about gallerist Rosemarie Jäger. She started collecting spoons while still a teenager. Years later, this developed into a gallery activity that could hardly be more holistic and more meaningful – in part because this gallerist from the winegrowing town of Hochheim in Hesse focuses on a theme that needs special care. Since the beginning of Modernism, and like all material-related art forms, artistic jewelry and the arts of the silversmith and ceramist evolved from artisanal traditions. This has often been seen, and is still seen today, as a shortcoming. But a change of consciousness is taking place.
Auctions are focusing greater attention on design objects and craftworks. This is why, for example, five- and even six-digit sums change hands for ceramics by classic protagonists such as Hans Cooper, Lucy Rie or Axel Salto. Renowned artists like Stirling Ruby enjoy expressing themselves through ceramics. Art and crafts encounter and permeate each other without fear of contact at the Biennale in Venice and at Documenta 14 in Kassel. All this contributes toward taking a new look at special works of craftsmanship. Opportunities for this are provided by diverse exhibitions this fall and by a new fair, “Tresor contemporary craft,” which takes place in Basel from September 21st to 24th. Thanks to the admirable dedication shown by siblings Anthony and Nadine Vischer, there is now a high-carat fair for a collector’s topic that could scarcely be more exciting. Unlike the situation on the art market, top-quality craftworks are also within reach for ordinary mortals. You can find an overview in Tresor’s catalogue, which is included in its entirety in this issue.