The Artist As Collector
“I think of a collection as being like a map of a person’s life.
Like the flotsam and jetsam washed up on the beach of someone’s
existence. A collection is deeply personal, and says so much about
who the collector is.” — Damien Hirst
What artists collect can reflect or influence what they create. Just as interesting and revealing as what an artist collects, however, is the why—the personal and meaningful stories of how the artist came to acquire a piece.
Artists collect for many reasons, some for reference, like Rembrandt, who collected seashells and musical instruments, or Dr. Seuss, who collected an astonishing number of hats. Others collect for more personal reasons: Frank Sinatra loved model trains, Tom Hanks has an affinity for typewriters. American artist Richard Prince, who overcame severe dyslexia, now owns one of the country’s largest collections of rare books.
An artist’s collection can also grow organically, through exchanges, gifts, and purchases among artistic friends, colleagues, and peers. Such collections can connect us to the history of art, the generations of a family, or the lasting significance of a small seaside community in southeastern Connecticut.
Founded in 1913 as a membership association, Mystic Museum of Art is rich in the art created and collected by the artists who defined the institution in the past, and those who make it unique today. This exhibition explores the relationship between what artists collect and what they create, and highlights the personal significance of the pieces they have entrusted to the Museum.