As the world adopts new technologies at an increasing pace, let’s explore the benefits and new possibilities for art collecting in the digital age.
Why digitise? Well, there are several good reasons to consider.
The first is pleasure. A collector with several hundred works recently told me he envied a friend who was able to browse her collection on her cell phone whenever she wanted to. Conversely most of his collection is packed securely away and not digitally accessible. Now that he is changing that, he is looking forward to being able to view the works easily to make decisions about rotating them so that he can live with them more.
The second is protection. Good safekeeping requires collated information, such as original invoice, certificate of authenticity, provenance, location, condition and restoration records. Having all of this documentation digitally attached to the artworks and easy to access, makes it possible to update valuations, insurance, locations and painlessly report on a collection’s status.
The third is legacy and estate planning. I was assisting an octogenarian collector who wanted to get organised so that her family would have clarity around the value and locations of her artworks, and there would be no confusion or huge task for them to do when it came to implementing her will. During the process she confided in me that she had already lost some works she had loaned out and later forgotten who she’d loaned them to.
The final reason is value building. Provenance is one of the levers of value that many collectors under utilise. Especially at the beginning of the journey with an acquisition. Proofs of provenance often not collected at this stage, are photographs from the acquisition event, especially if it is from an artist’s studio or gallery exhibition. An image of the collector with the artist and the work, a ‘thank you’ note from the artist, an installation image or video from the exhibition, a catalogue. Years later these can add significant value to a piece, and have proven invaluable in legal disputes.
This post is an excerpt from an article titled 'The re-imagining of art collecting in the digital age'
by Tamzin Lovell-Miller, published in the Summer 2021 edition of Art & Museum Magazine.