On collecting and art patronage

Some thoughts on the importance of collecting and patrons of art in institutions and in the current artistic production

Published: Oct 14, 2015
On collecting and art patronage

Antoni Muntadas. "On Translation" (1995-2011).

By Semíramis González (@semiramis_glez), Semíramis en Babilonia.

Lately, there is much talk about issues like collecting or art patronage, about the relevance of both activities in the framework of current art, when the public aids for production, creation and exhibition have been curtailed.

Even if both concepts are not exactly the same, it is also true that they both come from the same person: the collector/patron of art, someone who allocates a part of its budget to support creation. It can be done by regularly purchasing art pieces, thus making a collection that starts as something small and then grows. Many collectors confess that they realised they had a collection “when there was no more room at home for the art pieces”. However they can also support creation with specific budgets, singular activities, grants or awards. Some months ago we wrote in this blog about the example of the Colección Los Bragales of the collector Jaime Sordo, who had brought the grant LABjoven of LABoral back to life. We should not forget that this is a call for an annual award, funded with €9.500, addressed to artist under 40 to produce an experimental artistic project (in particular audiovisual installations and multimedia), that should subsequently be exhibited in the Projects Gallery of LABoral.

In a recent text by Fernando Díaz de Quijano in El Cultural he mentioned the example of the policies implemented in France regarding art patronage, emphasising how French public collections have made money over the last years thanks to taxation incentives. Actually, the concept of “collecting” and “art patronage” is almost as old as the very concept of artistic production, where artists were able to create thanks to the support of a patron of art.

Now-a-days the market is much more complex and there are other agents involved like galleries, curators, art dealers, fairs, etc. the figure of the collector is still as necessary and even more over the last decade, where it has positioned itself due to its close relationship with all these agents.


At museums and art centres, where budgets have been curtailed, it has been the support of private institutions what has kept certain grants, exhibitions and awards alive.

From LABjoven_Los Bragales, as we have seen, to the production grant DKV Seguros – Álvarez Margaride (also at LABoral), the grant DKV – MARCO, Artistic Production Award Fundación Banco Santander (at Open Studio), or Comisart at Obra Social “la Caixa” to rethink their collection.

This determined support to consolidate collecting and foster the arrival of new collectors is increasingly present in fairs. The current edition of the fair Estampa is a good example, as the slogan was precisely this, collecting and its consolidation, bearing in mind and highlighting the quality of Iberian collectors. Comparisons are always odious, and even though it is good to get a view of what is going on abroad, it is as good to consolidate or build collections with based on the private collections existing in Spain and Portugal that, in most cases, are the ones that purchase Spanish artists in the fairs. Therefore, it is important to mention the work of associations like 9915, that has been working for some years to re-value the work of private collectors.

Caption: Visit "De la mano de un coleccionista" with the collector Francisco Jaramillo at Estampa 2015.

A work that is carried out bit by bit and all together, so that the great machine of the art system can work with the support of everyone ensuring that the art works that are being created today, will be part of our common heri

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