Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector, The Barbican Art Gallery, 12 February – 25 May.
I had an amazing time at this exhibition and really recommend you go and see it. It is the first major exhibition in the UK to present the fascinating personal collections of post-war and contemporary artists and it is like stepping into the eclectic mind of each artist.
There is an obsession with most creative people to collect things, especially object d’art. The collections range from mass-produced memorabilia and popular collectibles to one-of-a-kind curiosities, rarefied artefacts, and specimens. In themselves, they are fascinating: the exhibition seems to be bursting at the seams. But even more interesting is the opportunity they provide to enter into the minds and psyche of these artists.
Martin Parr’s collection was one of the highlights for me. His postcard collection dates back to the early 1900s, where each card was used as a news items of what was happening at the time, such as the collapse of a mine or horrific storms. But it also reveals the transition of the postcards from factual updates through to kitsch 1950’s advertising. These cards for me were mesmerising.
Peter Blake’s weird collection of puppets and dolls gives glimpse into the Pop Art supremo’s fascination with the eccentric, while Damien Hirst’s obsession with skulls and dead animals clearly informs his work.
While some artists are connoisseurs, others accumulate hoards of objects, never letting anything go. Among those also featured are Edmund Waal, Howard Hodgkin, Arman and Andy Warhol. Each of their collections is unique and says a lot about their interests, inspirations and completely personal interpretation of the world. You will not tire at the vast array of objects.