A Private Collector Finding a Niche away from Traditional Philanthropy
Founder and director of FRANKFURT ART EXPERIENCE, Tyrown Vincent has initiated the first art weekend in the city, thanks to his determination in shifting away from traditional philanthropy. He is also a collector who started collecting from the age of 17 with a Salvador Dali poster, and a believer that even anyone with a small budget can start collecting great art.
LARRY’S LIST talked to Tyrown Vincent, who revealed which is the last art piece he will ever let go, why collector sometimes means “loss” to artist, his experience of setting up FRANKFURT ART EXPERIENCE, and offered advice to art lovers with small budgets on how to start collecting.
How did you start collecting art? Is there a special motivation behind the way that you collect?
Early in life, I realized that I was very peculiar about what kind of things I wanted to live and surround myself with. Not only in regards to people, food, clothes and music, but also for my private environment to create a creative, sensual and holistic experience. Collecting art helps me to change my philosophical perspective, re-evaluate my opinion and to question my direction of thinking. This maybe is the biggest motivation behind it all
Is it a challenge collecting art on a limited budget?
I come from a lower middle class family that does not care about art. Away from everyday life, I longed for inspiration – so at the age of 17, I bought my first Salvador Dali poster – all that I could afford at the time. Today, even with a small budget anyone can find great art – I, for example, only spend money that I have left after everything else is paid. On top of that, I try to look into places where nobody else is looking. There is so much incredible art that is not part of the art market.
To train and understand quality will help – not so much the focus on big names. Get to see the art collections of people who work in art every day (gallerists, museum directors, art historians, artist and art employees), I promise you are in for a big surprise to see what they collect because the “normal” for 95% of art collectors is a limited budget.
Do you have a specific focus in regards to the artists in your collection? Are you more interested in emerging or renowned artists and art?
Today’s contemporary art is yesterday’s art by tomorrow. And what is considered old today can be the next big thing to future generations. Personally, I am trying to stay away from “the trends” of the art market and just look for art pieces that entice me by their craft, technic, composition, story or “aura”. The artist just gets up in the morning and makes art – sometimes these artworks are incredible sometimes they are not. Within A PRIVATE COLLECTION you find emerging and renowned artist because if a work has what it takes for me to like, it does not matter when it was made and by whom.
Is there any particular theme of art that has consistently attracted you for your collection, or anything that unites all the art works you have acquired?
Within any art collection, all works are connected by the most important “soft factor” —the collecting mind behind it—the collector! We live in modern times compared to previous generations of art collectors. Input today is 360° via digital, mobility, and international exchange. There is a great variety of works, and their unity is based on the energy that I create around them as the art collector. Without me as the collector and the personal stories behind this art collection any unity will fade with time.
What was the first and is the latest artworks you acquired ?
My early “artworks” were presents and given to me.
On a more serious scale, one of the first works purchased in the 90s was a bronze by Salvador Dali Y Domenech “le Minotaure” from 1981.
One of the latest art works was acquired from the gallery Lisa Kandelhofer, Vienna by artist Maximillian Prüfer. It is an image of Mona Lisa (“La Cioconda”) re-interpreted by ten thousand flies.
How many artworks do you own? Where do you display your collection?
I am ashamed – I cannot confirm the exact amount of artworks. My estimate is between 900 and 1,100.
I never really counted the smaller works because I regularly give works away as presents and also receive some works in return.
The collection is A PRIVATE COLLECTION so I am living with the art at my home. One of my inspirations were Dorothy and Herb Vogel, who collected more than 4000 art pieces in a small two room apartment in New York.
You invite visitors to an “open house” experience a couple of times a year. What is your motivation to do so? How was the experience so far?
My first-ever “open house” that I was invited to as a guest happened during Art Basel, Miami at the home of Monica & Javier Mora, who were incredible, friendly and welcoming hosts and also art collectors. That was such a new and great inspiration for me. So in 2017, I did the first “Open House” here at A PRIVATE COLLECTION in my apartment – I couldn’t believe that 220 people showed up over the course of two days. It has been a great experience so we never stopped doing them – the last one was two weeks ago. The message behind it is simple – living with art is easy, and anybody can collect art.
There is a growing trend of building private museums among collectors. Would you wish to establish a museum or foundation one day to showcase your collection?
I have no interest in starting a private museum. And not to be mistaken—for some big collectors, it’s a simply a tax issue! For me, it remains a private pleasure. The great and famous collector Harald Falkenberg, Hamburg once said, “when he dies, he does not care what happens to the collection”. I agree – you will not find anybody that shares the same vision that you have. My interest is to place some works so they are well taken care of – maybe by other collectors. Anybody has to be careful not to create a burden for somebody else – when I am dead or old, the artworks should float again out there. Artworks will only survive if they intrigue a next generation of art lovers and collectors – just like they intrigued me.
What considerations guide you to make an acquisition for your art collection?
I have to love the artwork! And I have to be able to afford the asked price! What more does it take? I am normally not keen on impulse buying – so I take my time and reflect. If I am supposed to have an artwork, I will get it eventually – sometimes not at the first attempt. Collecting art has a lot to do with patience and learning – so while you wait (sometimes years) for your chance to buy something you like—you can learn.
What is your most treasured artwork?
It depends on how one defines “treasured”? There are artworks in every art collection that are so rare based on quality, also when, how and by whom they were made. Every artwork has a story behind it, and each one has a different meaning for the art collector. Sometimes art collections get discontinued for different reasons – so the more interesting question for me is actually “which is the last art piece I will ever let go”? In my case, it’s a rare pencil drawing by Hungarian artist József Csáky – because of the story behind it.
How important is it for you to meet the artists who created the artwork?
For me, it is not important at all – in some cases you do, and it can expand your mindset and horizon. In some cases, artists really do not care about meeting collectors, and I understand that as well – because art collectors symbolise market and “loss”; did you realize that some artists are absolutely amazing, but they never have a breakthrough simply because they love their artwork so much that they cannot let it go—to anybody ever! So for an artist a collector sometimes stands also for “loss”, not just gain.
What is your advice to young and fresh collectors with a limited budget? Should we buy prints of some blue-chip artists or original works by emerging artists or even art graduates?
There really is no advice – 1000 people / 1000 opinions!
Always remember the art market is a market where businesses sell you art based on their opinions. Find out what you like, educate yourself on who you are—this will help you choose the art for you. Be patient, and don’t spend money that you do not have. The rest is your natural development as art collectors – you start with one thing, but you end up with another.
More specifically, people who are looking to start art collecting may feel intimidated in galleries or art fairs even if they frequent these venues as art lovers. Is there any advise on how to tackle that and really open the gateway into the art-collecting world?
I am afraid that the only advice I can give is – be professional and confident! I have been treated with arrogance, been ignored, invisible and under-valued. There is no recipe, but it can help to build a reputation for yourself based on knowledge, being humble and friendly. Not on Ego! People in the art industry have a tendency to remember if you make a difference – and you are able to make a difference by being yourself and polite. Me – I am more the quiet type, and I approach and disturb people in the art industry such as gallerists, artists, art historians only if I mean business to them. And since the art market is a business, so I avoid small talk. Other than that, get out there, have fun, and enjoy looking at art – as simple as that!
The Art World
What’s your art-world pet peeve?
I don’t think I really have one? It is just a hobby, so I make sure it does not take more time away than necessary from real life adventures. It’s already hard to do because managing an art collection professionally is almost like a second full-time job, so maybe that could be the “pet peeve” factor (laughing).
Who inspires you the most in the art world?
For me, any encounter is appreciated and inspiring. I can always take away something for myself no matter if I meet with a fellow collector, gallerist or artist. But I do adore the dedication and vision around the Team of the “Outsider Art Fair” – something completely different and inspiring.
The Frankfurt Art Experiences
What gave you the idea to set up such an art weekend?
I wanted to actively contribute to the local art community. Being a private collector on a smaller scale, I decided to find a niche away from traditional philanthropy or just paying a check each year to an art institution to become a privileged member. Me, being an event & project manager in real life helped me towards the development of THE FRANKFURT ART EXPERIENCE.
With an online reach beyond a million and over 13,000 people showing up for the 4-day art weekend, it was a success and gave a massive impulse on visibility to the art gallery scene in my town. This can inspire other young collectors to find new paths in contributing to their local art community aside from the traditional options, such as patronage.
How did you generate attention with the city officials to gain their trust and funding?
Prior to THE FRANKFURT ART EXPERIENCE, I finished a personal project – with the help of friends a YouTube clip was created showing a tour for visitors and tourists on how to discover the gallery scene of downtown Frankfurt.
It is an open secret that the mid-market art galleries worldwide are currently not doing so well and need local support. So this YouTube clip was actually the initial first project – a fresh new digital topic that nobody had done before here in Frankfurt. This helped to launch the next step, a campaign for THE FRANKFURT ART EXPERIENCE amongst officials and getting generous funding from the City of Frankfurt and County Hessen. I have been supported by amazing people, and I feel so blessed that I had a chance to execute this whole project as a director. This is what art can do for and with you.
A selection of artists Tyrown collects: