Despite the debilitating humidity and torrential downpour in Chicago, it was a lovely and informative evening at the elegant and awe inspiring home of Bob Buford, President and CEO of Planned Realty Group, Inc. and avid art collector. The EXPO Chicago team, Smart Museum of Art, and IVY collaborated to create an amazing vibe at this inaugural event of the Chicago Emerging Collectors series.

The panel discussion was lead by Ali Gass, Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum, along with her fellow colleagues: Florie Hutchinson, San Francisco based media strategist in arts & design, responsible for the ballet shoe emoji and also a contemporary art collector; Orianna Cacchione, Curator of Global Contemporary Art at the Smart Museum of Art with a specialization in Chinese Contemporary Art; and Jennifer Carty, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art also at the Smart Museum.

The casual talk ranged from navigating art fairs to collector etiquette, as well as different ways to keep on the pulse of the Art World. Jennifer suggested reading Art Forum and other art magazines as well as keeping up with art related social media. Orianna, a seasoned traveler, suggested packing a suitcase and getting out to international art fairs and and biennials. It’s a great way to check out art scenes and emerging trends in different cities because galleries generally have their best shows up during the big fairs and biennials. Florie reminded us that we shouldn’t overlook the local MFA shows and buy Contemporary Art just as the artists are coming up the chain. Be a peer with your artists, follow them, get to know them and see what artists they follow. They all agree that we should look at as much art as possible, train your eyes and earn “eye-milage.”

The group also discussed the value of art works, and whether we should look at art as investment. Curators of museums must think about historical value, market value, and the value of the artwork in the context of the museum. Of course, depending on what type of collection you want to build, you may have some concern about investment value and appreciation rate of your collection, but the general consensus for building for your personal collection is that you should buy what you love.

They also touched on how to be a good collector. As a collector, you are contributing to the stewardship of an artist and their livelihood. When buying from emerging artists, every piece you buy has a direct impact in helping them build their reputation (and value of your art). As a general rule: always loan artwork to exhibitions and never sell contemporary artists’ works while they are still living. In cases where you must sell, try contacting the artist and/or gallery where you obtained the art to see if they will buy it back or sell it for you. Be careful when selling in the secondary market (artwork that has already been purchased once) because if some primary market galleries catch wind of it, they may not sell to you the next time.

They ended the discussion with some tips for buying art. Don’t be intimidated by the gallery and yes you should negotiate (up to 20% )! Ask questions and build a relationship. If you have a good museum connection, let them make an introduction. Some galleries have stringent vetting processes because it’s important to them who are supporting their artists.

Through the talk, they mentioned only two artists by name. One is Brooklyn based Hope Gangloff who works with Susan Inglett Gallery in NYC. The other is Scottish artist, Andrew Cranston, represented by Ingleby Gallery.

Hope Gangloff Coffee Klatch, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 48 in.

Andrew Cranston, Brie on the knee, 2018, Oil and varnish on hardback book cover, 8 ⅝ x 11 ¼ in.  

The evening concluded with a boozy wine tour around Mr. Buford’s home. It definitely is an art collection worthy of admiration and a wonderful example of a well rounded collection and collector. Mr. Buford’s collection ranged from early Impressionist to Modern to Contemporary, from oil paintings to sculptures to installations with famous names like Miro, Koons, Bacon, Matisse, Murakami, Warhol, Basquiat, Haring, Lichtenstein, and Kusama around every corner. On top the the brilliant art collection, every other inch of the home is complemented with amazing furniture design and decorative arts from the last century. The tour ended in his “basement wine cellar”. Turns out, Mr. Buford is also a well known wine collector.