Or read it in French: creation d'une
collection Read also collection-connection
In fact, building a collection is a little bit like making a bouquet of flowers.
You can choose to have all similar items coming from a same region and in a
specific material, like the collector I know who only wants well-patinated
ivory figures from the Congo. If the ivory doesn't show much use, he
doesn't want it.
I also know a sculptor who had collected 70 different Bassa masks. He told
"It is like the a James Ensor painting - all different characters".
Other collectors, such as the painter Corneille, don't feel a necessity to have
They just collect on the basis of shapes. A few years ago, I saw an exhibition
of Corneiller, in the modern art museum in Oostende and I was shocked to
see that most pieces where recent and in my eyes not Museum-worthy.
Corneille, however, explained that he was just interested in the shapes,
expressions and colours to inspire his own work.
You have also other artists collectors like Arman or Baselitz who focus on fine
I am a professional photographer, and my mother was a collector. That's how
became interested myself, but I couldn't live with pieces coming from one tribe
I like it all and the pieces in my shop are like a personal collection and
depicting a little bit my own personality in, multiform.
My main interest is Central African art and Gabon, but I also like the fine
carvings from West Africa, such as the Baule, Senufo, or Ashanti. I also have a
small collection of Indian bronzes, pre-Columbian pieces and other
So before starting a collection you should ask yourself what your goals
in relation to your personality :
1) Must my collection consist of items with high value at the short-term (buy
only antiques) or long-term (you can also buy contemporary creations)?
2) Do you want a mixed collection or rather focus on a special theme, like a
specific animal (e.g. snake, elephant, monkey ), or some utilitarian type of
object ( pipes, headle-pulleys, gold weights, Ibedji's twin figures, etc...)?
3) Abstract (textiles, utilitarian items) or figurative; fine carvings or
used (items with patina) or not?
4) Will you pick up what comes your way, like a fisher, or will you actively
chase after your pieces of choice?
5) Is my collection a work in progress, or will I keep my pieces forever once I
have them. Or will I have some goals (e.g.: 100 spoons from different
regions), and once attained will I sell it as a collection and start some new
6) Will I focus on a specific geographic area (eg. All Lega material) or not?
7) Do I want pieces that show European or cross-border influences ?
8) Will I document every piece and try to find similar items?
9) Will I try to find the best samples from current tribes or do I try to be
complete by finding the most rare samples?
Tell me what you think. How you build your collection or whether you have other
views on the subject?
David Norden www.african-antiques.com
You may use this text if you keep it complete with links back to my websites.
Read also collection-connection