Name: Marie Claire van Schooten
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Year started collecting: 1988
Number of artworks in collection: +/- 25
Marie Claire van Schooten was born and raised in the antiques trade with her mother, sisters, aunt, uncle and many of her cousins in the business. Having worked in advertising for over 20 years she eventually followed in her family’s footsteps by founding Browse. Be inspired. Start collecting., a platform and consultancy designed to help art lovers navigate the artworld, through hosted talks, seminars, art walks and accompanying partnerships.
Interview with art collector Marie Claire van Schooten:
What is the very first item you purchased/wanted to purchase? What drew you to it?
The first item that I bought was a beautiful tiny cup of blue and white Chinese porcelain, displaying the intricate ‘devils work’,..a cup with double sides, the outer side being made of intricate porcelain lace work. It is called ‘devils work’ as the technique was long not understood.
I love blue and white Chinese porcelain and as my aunt and uncle, at the time, were specialists in this field, I very much grew up surrounded by beautiful pieces like this. When I did some chores for them I asked to be ‘paid’ in a piece of Chinese porcelain. That’s how I started collecting.
The whiteness of the white, the blueness of the blue is what attracts me. Also, this very delicate work has influenced so many European artisans over the centuries that it is still very much in fashion. This is something that attracts me to a piece of art, even a piece made many years or centuries ago can still be ‘en vogue’ today.
What styles/mediums are you most attracted to?
I guess you might call me an eclectic collector. What matters to me most is if I think it’s a beautiful piece, plus it intrigues me, then I start investigating further. My collection ranges from Chinese porcelain, Indian miniatures, work by the Zero Gruppe to photography by Bethany de Forest, purchased at the Affordable Art Fair many years ago. My latest purchase is my first abstract painting by the Norwegian artist Thomas Pihl.
Would you call yourself a collector or a passionate owner?
I think I would call myself a collector, I do have the tendency to always, or at least wanting to, buy when I visit an art fair. My main motivation, again, is if I like it or not. I am one for buying a piece of art and fit my interior around it instead of the other way around.
Is there a piece in your collection you can’t live without?
Yes, but there are two actually, first my work by Dutch photographer Jean Marc Spaans.
Secondly my three works by the Zero Gruppe, collected by my parents in the seventies and gifted to me by my father when I purchased my first home.
Are you drawn to up-and-coming artists or established names?
I don’t really care, I have to like the piece first and then I look at who the artist is.
How has your taste changed since you started collecting?
In the early years I very much looked at antiques as works of art, as this is what I was raised surrounded by. Gradually I started to learn about modern and contemporary art, a passion shared very much with my late father, with the focus on photography. It is only been in the past year that I have purchased my first monochrome painting, by the Norwegian artist Thomas Pihl from ASAP galerie in Rotterdam.
Why do you like going to fairs?
If anything, it inspires me! Browsing the stands and being surprised and thus inspired gives me such a great feeling, even if things are hard in day to day life, it really lifts me up. This is why I called my company Browse. Be inspired. Start collecting. as I very much believe that these are the three stages one goes through, whether this is at very high-end fairs or more accessible ones like the Affordable Art Fair.
What will you do when your walls are full?
I believe my walls will never be full! An art collection is also dynamic… one art work could replace another one, I switch, put one art work up and give another piece a break.
Any top tips for new collectors?
As I mentioned before, it all starts with what you like, no matter who the artist is. Start by developing your taste, read about it. For example with photography, if you really like something but cannot afford it, as someone once told me; buy the book.
A second tip I would like to give is never be afraid to ask questions, gallery owners love to talk about their works. No question is stupid and you never know what you will find out!
Marie Claire van Schooten, standing near the Chand Baori stepwell in Abhaneri an hour outside Jaipur, Rjasthan, India.
Featured images from first to last:
Chinese porcelain cup, KangXI period, 1710, Marie Claire's private collection.
Artwork by Bethany de Forest, Marie Claire's private collection.
Three works by the Zero Gruppe, Marie Claire's private collection.
Monochrome painting by Thomas Pihl, Marie Claire's private collection.
Artwork by Jean Marc Spaans, Marie Claire's private collection.