Revealed: inside the private collections of South Australia – Samstag Art Museum – Til 22 July
Twelve months ago, Samstag director, Erica Green, convened a dinner for some of Adelaide’s most discerning and enthusiastic contemporary art collectors with the purpose of spruiking her idea for an exhibition of items from their own collections. Three weeks back and the first of what is hoped to be three exhibitions over three years was launched by Sydney based artist Mike Parr, who also has a work featured in the display.
Erica Green has formulated an admirable idea as it provides a window for the more casual or less well financially endowed art lover of Adelaide to see what is turning local patrons on and hanging on their walls. The concept of an exhibition curated only by the tastes of current private owners also means the result is quite eclectic and, to be sure, there is something there for everyone.
As the exhibition catalogue notes, private patrons are somewhat of the hidden face of the art world but it is through their varied tastes and interests that not only established artists’ great works find homes but also up and coming exponents get the chance to be ‘found’ and followed. This takes us beyond what the major art galleries can do, let alone present, and beyond also the private galleries whose primary motive is to move stock on.
However, the influence of the latter in broadly sponsoring or promoting single artists can perhaps be seen in the extraordinary fascination for the works of Noel McKenna that adorn, from all manner of sources, effectively an entire wall in this exhibition.
While the support of local art owners for this exhibition is terrific, it has to be noted that perhaps they have reserved their very best (hopefully for a subsequent event in the Samstag’s series). For it seems hard to believe that within Adelaide there is not a Jeffrey Smart container canvas or a Bill Henson nostalgia image (or any one of a dozen other of the better known contemporary artists) hanging somewhere.
The catalogue, although containing a useful essay on private collections, has no great depth and certainly investigations of the motives of the donors, as to both their own collections as a whole as well as for particular artists, would be most illuminating.
Still, one has to start somewhere and director, Erica Green, and the Samstag need to be congratulated on the initiative.
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