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Art advice - 24 September 2019

How to start an art collection

Thole RötermundThole Rotermund is the Chairman of the German Gallery Association (Bundesverband deutscher Galerien und Kunsthändler) and owner of ‘Thole Rotermund Kunsthandel’, and an art consultant, offering advisory services for collectors across Europe. Having studied literature and art history, worked in auction houses, on freelance art projects and built up a career spanning more than 20 years, he has developed a specialism in, and love affair with, classical modern art.

To say Thole is qualified at advising on how to start a collection is an understatement, so we were super happy when he agreed to this interview! Read on for his top tips on this very subject…



How long have you been collecting art? What inspires you?

Artwork by Thomas MuellerThe first pictures I bought were in my student days, buying individual works of various kinds, partly bought out of spontaneous enthusiasm, and partly because I knew the artists. I would say it turned into a "collection" much later. I get the best and most varied inspiration at international art fairs, which I visit regularly. It’s not always at the big blockbuster events, sometimes at the smaller fairs where there is always something to discover.


Do you have any genres or mediums that you’re particularly drawn to?

My passion is for paper! Anything from small, detailed drawings to larger formats, such as the Stuttgart artist, Thomas Müller’s two-meter-high coloured pencil drawings, which I particularly appreciate.


How has your taste and collection process been refined over the years?

Of course, your taste develops as you increase your knowledge on any subject. These days I find I don’t let myself be inspired as spontaneously; I tend to sleep on a decision. But if the tension is still there, then I’m confident that the love for the piece will be long term. I tend to find that works which start to fascinate me only on the second glance, will stay interesting to me for the longest. If a work said to be ‘the latest big thing’ I find it hard to get enthusiastic about it. In this respect, works of art are rather like people...




When did you start your own art gallery and consultancy?

I started in 2000, initially without any significant stock, which I had to build up very gradually. While I had some client contacts, who I knew from my previous job in an auction house, I didn’t have an established reputation or brand – so I had to build the entire business from scratch.


What advice would you give to someone purchasing their first piece of original art?

Hans Reichel_1928-01The most important advice is to ignore any information on the significance and value of the artist, just listen to your heart and act on your feelings. Although the reputation of an artist driving higher prices certainly plays a role, but just because an artist is well-collected and respected, you don’t need to join in with the hype. Works that are highly praised today, are easily forgotten tomorrow.


What advise do you give to your clients if they want to start an art collection?

On top of the advice above, I always tell clients one thing: look, look, look! Go to as many museums, galleries and art fairs as possible. By doing this you’ll not only have a visual experience, you’ll get a great overview of the art. This will help you train your eye and give you the ability to recognise quality, and art you will love for a long-time. Of course, it’s never a bad thing to speak to a trusted expert, such as a gallery owner. They can help with general advice, and help you weigh up your opinions if you’re not sure. This helps.


We can’t agree more with Thole and think that his advice to purchase art because you fall in love, rather than as a financial investment or because you’ve heard they are the “next big thing”, is entirely correct. By choosing for love, you’re sure to build a collection of pieces which continue to speak to you for years to come.

If you’d like to test Thole’s advice out in person, purchase a ticket to Affordable Art Fair Hamburg (14 – 17 November, Hamburg Messe), where you’ll be able to not only browse 1000s of works under one roof, but hear Thole talk in person as he joins the fair to speak at our collectors talk:


Collecting Art – The Great Passion
Saturday 16 November, 3pm


Why does art trigger an emotional reaction? Why do we feel the need to own art? How can we recognise quality? How do we start an art collection? When can we start calling ourselves an art collector? What is the difference between an accumulation of art and a collection?

Collecting art is a passion as old as time, and yet the subject is inexhaustible. To help answer these questions and more, we have invited art expert Thole Rotermund and Dr. Anna Schwan (Schwan Communications) to talk about the art of collecting, and why it inspires such great passion.




All works from Thole Rotermund’s private collection, artwork credits:
August Macke (1887 - 1914), Reitende Araber II, 1913, pencil on woven paper, 12.3 x 18.1 cm.

Featured images from first to last:
Thole Rotermund, art consultant and gallery owner.
Thomas Müller, Ohne Titel, 2017, pen on woven paper, 200 × 140 cm.
August Macke (1887 - 1914), Reitende Araber II, 1913, pencil on woven paper, 12.3 x 18.1 cm.
Hans Reichel (1892 - 1958), Fische und Pflanzen am Meeresgrund "No. 17/1928", 1928, watercolour and pen on handmade paper, 24.8 × 17 cm.


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