BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

A Private Matter?

On the importance of physical space for the value of art

Visitors at Art Basel Hong Kong 2013 in front of a mixed media installation by Haegue Yang
Visitors at Art Basel Hong Kong 2013 in front of a mixed media installation by Haegue Yang

In a time of increasing digitalization, it will become increasingly common in the future that we will not have to leave the house anymore to do everyday life activities like work, leisure or shopping. Through increasingly intelligent computer technology, we will be able to conduct everything from our private home, letting the virtual world define our social interaction and perception. Of course the question is: what happens to actual physical space and the concept of the public? Stepping back from this futuristic vision, it is notable that these questions are already today widely discussed - also in the art world.

In a recent article published in The Art Newspaper, author Blake Gopnik discusses the value of physical gallery space. In the last years, more and more art dealers have chosen to abandon the concept of a physical gallery space and to present their artists only at fairs or through the Internet. This is due to the increasing importance of art fairs and online sales, as well as avoiding high rents in art metropolises such as New York, London and Berlin (yes, also rents in this city are rising).

On the contrary, Marc Spiegler, director of Art Basel, explains that a physical gallery space is essential, not only to give some respect to and inspire the represented artists, but also to serve as a place for clients to visit. Furthermore, the location and space can already tell much about a gallery’s program.

But is that really all that matters? Blake Gopnik answers this question with "no" by pointing to the importance of the cultural value of an artwork that is generated by the public. Bringing art exclusively to private spaces, a broader cultural value that is essential to the artworks’ value, will be lost. In the words of the author "to the extent that fairs and websites are pushing galleries to the margins, they are also marginalizing the art their clients present."

Image by See-ming Lee, CC Licence Info, via Flickr; Mixed media installation by Haegue Yang: Courtesy Kukje Gallery, Seoul

More Information on The Art Newspaper

Insiders (67)

Wilhelmina Jewell Strong - Sparks

Founder of BiTHOUSE Projects - BAAR Art Journey


Collector behind the ARNDT Collection

Sandra Guimarães

Director of Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear

Grazyna Kulczyk

Founder of Muzeum Susch


Interview with Georgie Pope and Eleonora Sutter, Co-founders

Kamiar Maleki

Director at VOLTA

Gallery Weekend Berlin 2022

Tokini Peterside

Founder and Director, ART X Lagos


Founding Director of the Athens Biennale

Boris Ondreička

Artistic Director of viennacontemporary

Maribel Lopez

Director of ARCO

David Gryn

Founder and Director of Daata

Fondation Beyeler Audiovisual Broadcast

Fondation Beyeler and Nordstern Basel present Dixon x Transmoderna

Gary Yeh

Founder of ArtDrunk and Young Collector

WATCH: The Best of the BMW Art Guide

Where will you travel next to explore art?

Maike Cruse

2020 Gallery Weekend Berlin

Touria El Glaoui

Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Johann König

Messe in St. Agnes

PArt - Producers Art Platform

A crisis initiative to help artists directly affected by the pandemic

Barbara Moore

CEO of Biennale of Sydney

Unique Collector’s Item

by Independent Collectors

Alix Dana

Fair Director at Independent

When Collectors are Able to Commission

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Juliet Kothe and Julia Rust

Initiators of Collection Night, Berlin

Marie-Anne McQuay

Curator of Wales in Venice, 58th Venice Biennale 2019

Dorothy and Herb Vogel

Two extraordinary art collectors

Heather Hubbs

Director at NADA

Every Art Collection Needs Space

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Collecting Art with François Pinault

Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi

A Common Ground

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Caroline Vos

Director at Amsterdam Art Weekend

Hidden Collections

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Nicole Berry

Executive Director of The Armory Show

Daniel Hug

Fair Director at Art Cologne

The Role of the Art Fair

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Peter Bläuer

Director at LISTE

A Brush Against Nature

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Ilaria Bonacossa

Director of Artissima

Excessiveness, the Latent Danger of Collecting Art

by Independent Collectors

Jo Stella-Sawicka

Artistic Director at Frieze

Florence Bourgeois

Director at Paris Photo

Where Artists Can Work More Playfully

by Christiane Meixner

Specifically Commissioned

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Manuela Mozo

Executive Director of UNTITLED, ART Miami and San Francisco

Important Museums and Private Collections

by Christiane Meixner

Susanna Corchia

Director of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend

Emilia van Lynden

Artistic Director at Unseen, Amsterdam

Carlos Urroz

Director at ARCOmadrid

Shoe Smudges Streaked Across the White Walls

by Christiane Meixner

Amanda Coulson

Director at VOLTA Basel

Douwe Cramer

Director at Singapore Contemporary

Art and Architecture – Attractive Allies

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Jo Baring

Curator of Sculpture Series, Masterpiece London

Bidders and Buyers

by Christiane Meixner

Anne Vierstraete

Managing Director at Art Brussels

Nanna Hjortenberg

Director at CHART

The Crucial Role of the New

by Independent Collectors

Makers and Believers

On Art History’s Most Famous Patrons

The Past is Back

And collectors are buying it up

Are Artists the Better Curators?

On the diminishing boundary between professions in the art world

The Digital Museum

On the importance of the museum’s web presence

The Man in the Middle

On the curator’s private and public engagements

Off the Wall

How museums contribute to the worth of artworks

Where to Go Next?

The fragmentation of Manhattan’s gallery scene

To Buy or Not to Buy

Collectors on their experiences of letting an artwork slip away

How to Pass On a Passion

On long-term challenges for new private museums