Name: Marije Bettenhaussen
Year started collecting: 2003
Number of artworks in collection: 22
Meet Marije Bettenhaussen - a curator and art advisor based in Amsterdam, whose work sees her helping a number of companies and foundations, in all manners of business relating to art.
Having curated and collected for LeasePlan and curated the eigth biannual Young In Prison benefit auction, it’s no wonder that Marije also purchases and curates for her personal collection at home.
We sat down with Marije to talk about her journey as an art collector.
Interview with art collector Marije Bettenhaussen:
What is the very first item you purchased/wanted to purchase?
One of my first purchases was an African voodoo object. My father was a curator in ethnicity and my parents have always had a strong bond with Africa, something that I have inherited. I found this piece in a funky sort of ethnic shop in Amsterdam. It was my first year in Amsterdam and I had to save for 2 months to scrape the 40 euros it cost to buy it, but it was definitely worth it. At that time, one of my part time jobs was to support the viewing days at Christie’s, I showed them a picture of it and was told that it was a good investment!
Another work that I bought early on was by George Struikelblok. I was interning at the Surinamese Museum in Paramaribo and I knew his work from a gallery in the Netherlands where I had worked. In Surinam I was able to visit George in his studio, the floor was cluttered with colorful works, it was amazing! One of his earlier works caught my eye – he told me that it represented the bond between a parent and child and that it was sometimes important to set the other loose, and give each other the freedom to develop their own life. The irony was that I needed a small loan from my parents to be able to buy the artwork. Now that I have children of my own I look at this piece from the parental side – whereas when I bought it, it was from the perspective of the child. This work is very precious to me!
What draws you to the pieces you buy?
It is a compulsion. You need to have it, you dream about it, your thoughts return to it every day – you return to look at it again… at least that is how it work for me! Mostly I buy pieces that speak to me personally, it could be the colours, the materials, the technique or the story behind the work. Every now and then I regret certain pieces that I didn’t buy – but you can’t have everything.
What styles/mediums are you most attracted to?
I like almost everything, but when I look at my collection I can see that it is mostly figurative. I have learned to appreciate photography, the clean execution is something I think fits nicely into modern apartments. I also like works with an epoxy finish – I have a work by Toyin Loye made this way – it is my daughter’s favourite.
Would you call yourself a collector or a passionate owner?
A Passionate owner, my ‘collection’ is completely random with lots of souvenir works hanging in my home that I love. Its all a bit eclectic. A collector, in my mind, is someone who buys with a specific vision, even rules. Perhaps because I work with art collections everyday, I feel the need to totally let go in my own world.
What is the main motivation behind your collecting?
I buy art because I think it’s beautiful. And to decorate my home, I hate empty walls.
Is there a piece in your collection you can’t live without?
Hmm… I would have to choose ‘’The gate to heaven’’. This work is from my uncle, artist Wim Bettenhausen. He is well known for his beautiful etches – although personally I think his paintings are better!
Are you drawn to up-and-coming artists or established names?
I’m definitely drawn to up-and-coming artists. Not only are they affordable, it is great to get to know the artist personally. However, I would actually secretly love to buy a beautiful Eugene Brands painting at an auction someday. Or a lovely seascape by the old masters. That would look great in a home office, alongside a Chesterfield chair and a corny Globe Liquor Cabinet.
How has your taste changed since you started collecting?
The more you read about art, the more you see, the more you know… this obviously influences your taste. Dare I say that I make bolder purchases now…?
Why do you like going to art fairs?
An art fair is a trip to the candy store for me. There is sooo much to see! And that great thing is, unlike a museum, you can buy it! I love that thought. You can walk around an art fair and imagine being quite greedy, then walk out feeling satisfied without even having bought something – but with a head full of new ideas.
In your opinion, what is the role of an art collector in the career of artists?
An artist can only have a career by the grace of the buyer(s) – they need to pay the bills as well. A collector is therefore very important to an artist, along with any other buyer, such as businesses.
Any top tips for new collectors?
It sounds a bit cheesy, but just follow your heart. And don’t let yourself be rushed – artworks don’t usually sell as quickly as ice creams. Take a night to think about it – consider where you would hang it. If you find it important to make a “good” purchase then take the time to research the artist. Does the work fit into their ouvre? Have they won prizes?
Name three artists you have seen grow from final shows into ‘’must-haves’’
This is a tricky question – there are so many artists with wonderful work who are all absolutely a must-have. Luckily, I have followed Chris Berends since his days at art school, and now he is a well-known artist at a well-known gallery (Jaski Gallery who will be attending Affordable Art Fair Amsterdam ). I also like the works by Anne Geene and Marleen Sleeuwits. I can go on and on.
What will you do when your walls are full?
Hahaha – we already have that problem! At the moment we’re lending art out to friends so that they can enjoy beautiful art on their walls too. We hope to do some renovations soon – then we’ll have more space to give everything ‘a home’.
Photograph of part of Marije Bettenhaussen's private collection, ‘Animals’ postcards by Rop van Mierlo
Featured images from first to last:
African voodoo piece, unknown artist
Artwork by George Struikelblok
Artwork by Toyin Loye
Artwork by Wim Bettenhause
Artwork by Anne Geene