BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

The Man in the Middle

On the curator’s private and public engagements

Tall Tree and an Eye by artist Anish Kapoor – © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017
Tall Tree and an Eye by artist Anish Kapoor – © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

The museum and the private collection: a relationship that is deeply intertwined and in constant negotiation.

At the interface of these two establishments that influence the art world in their own way, one often encounters the curator. This savvy and vital “middleman” frequently shifts between the two worlds, in charge of building up ties and fostering “friendships“ between the public and the private. Therefore, a common phenomenon amongst curators is to have two strings to one’s bow. Besides advising public institutions, many simultaneously work for private collections - an employment situation that certainly comes with its own challenges.

In a recent article published on Artslant, Ryan Wong discusses the “art world’s intrinsic conflict of interest when it comes to curating the private collection with the public trust”.

Wong notes that it seems to be the case that private art collections are increasingly entering the educational side of the art world – a position that thus far foremost museums have held. Today, private collections and initiatives are offering promising routes to young ambitious collectors to enter the highly competitive and institutionalized art world in an alternative way. Examples therefore are the residency program for young curators by “Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo” or the initiative “Pool” founded by Beatrix Ruf. The latter gives young curators the chance to create exhibitions from artworks from private art collections, perceiving collections as contemporary sources rather than rigid assemblages of personal taste.

Private art collections are in this sense entering the realm of the museum, shifting traditional structures and “actively shaping the public’s relation to art”. Surely, this is a beneficial development in many ways, but it also requires curators to be aware of their responsibility when it comes to connecting public, private establishments and negotiating conflicting interests.

Amended Image by Sarah/mira66 via Flickr; CC Licence Info

More Information on Artslant

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

A Private Matter?

On the importance of physical space for the value of art

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