Collecting Art is a Labor of Love
My father is one of the few people I know who was both a left- and right-brained thinker. A tool and die maker by trade, he had a strong interest in science. On the flip side, he was very creative, invented several games over the years and loved art. I remember sneaking out of bed to watch him paint at the kitchen table while my mother was at night school.
My parents took us children to the Detroit Institute of Arts several times when we were growing up and passed their love of art to some of us. One year my mother went to Italy to visit relatives and brought back a statue of Michelangelo’s “David” as a gift for my dad. Rodin’s “The Kiss” was on display in the living room and a reproduction of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” hung on the wall.
I’m not much of an artist myself but I have an appreciation for it and over the years, I’ve come to recognize the styles and media I’m drawn to. I love Mondrian for reasons that will be explained below and I’ve come to realize I’m attracted to art made with metals. This hub showcases several pieces of art I’ve collected over the years.
Square World is something my dad made. I would jokingly tell him he should will it to me so I would be sure to get it. When dad passed away in 2008, my sister graciously let it go without (too much) fuss and I shipped it home from North Carolina.
I have no idea how long it took him or even how exactly he made it. I do know he worked on it during his lunch hours at the tool and die shop and I think that was in the 1960s. He dripped molten metal to create the continents. He fashioned a metal ball to at the end of a rod to represent the moon. When the rod was placed on the top of the axis, the “moon” could revolve around the earth. It has been lost for decades but I still remember it clearly. On the world’s base he engraved: Man’s square world on frail rod doth turn.
For the past several years, my husband and I have attended an art fair in St. Louis. I keep my eye out for something to buy each year and while there have been plenty of large pieces I’d love to own, I have neither the money nor the space for them. Instead, I focus on small items that fit my budget such as this piece called “Lizard Stem” from Pozycinski Studios. There were several very cool pieces we liked and we had a hard time narrowing down our choice. Looking at their website today, I noticed they have begun to move away from using strictly bronze and are incorporating glass into their pieces. Another artist whose work I am strongly attracted to whom I’ve seen at the fair is C.T. Whitehouse. I especially loved his bronze boats and if I ever come up with an extra $500 or so, I’ll be able to bring one home.
This print is called "Opposition of Lines: Red and Yellow" (1937). I love Piet Mondrian’s work between 1920-1940, give or take a few years. The symmetrical nature of his art appeals to my sense of order. I could never have a Jackson Pollock print hanging in my house. His style is too chaotic and jumbled; I truly think I would feel disoriented if I were forced to look at it every day. Conversely, Mondrian’s straight lines and use of color blocks is calming to me and I appreciate the geometric nature of his designs, much as I admire architect Frank Lloyd Wright for the same reason.
Mondrian was a Dutch painter who lived from 1872-1944. It’s interesting to see how his style evolved over the years. His early works, which were mostly landscapes, were painted in the style of the Impressionists. In 1908, he became interested in the theosophical movement launched by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, who believed it was possible to attain a more profound knowledge of nature than that provided by empirical means. From then on, his work was inspired by his search for spiritual knowledge as expressed through abstractionism.
Mondrian moved to Paris in 1911 and was influenced by the geometric shapes and interlocking planes of Cubism. Three years later met two other artists whose abstract work and use of primary colors had a profound impact on Mondrian. He began to develop a theory of abstraction and color and adopted the term neoplasticism to define it.
Neoplasticism seeks to express spiritual harmony and order. It ignores natural form and color and simplifies visual compositions to vertical and horizontal lines along with using only primary colors, black and white.
After World War I ended, Mondrian moved to France and it is this period of his art that I find the most fascinating. For 20 years, Mondrian refined his style. In the beginning of this period, around 1920, large blocks of color were used with just a few white blocks. As time went on, the color blocks became smaller and there were fewer of them. The horizontal and vertical lines he used at first were gray and faded as they reached the canvas’s edges. Later, they became thicker, were black and many seemed to stop arbitrarily before reaching the canvas edge.
In 1940, Mondrian moved to New York and again his art changed. He moved away from the simplicity of black, white and primary colors painted in his previous minimalist style. Instead of black lines of various widths, they became lines of primary colors. One of his more famous pieces, “Broadway Boogie Woogie,” is a good example.
Mondrian died in 1944 but his works have continued to inspire others. L’Oreal’s Studio Line products have a Mondrian-esque design and Yves Saint Laurent’s fall 1965 line featured dresses with blocks of primary colors bordered by black lines.
Like my dad, my younger son is both a right-brained and a left-brained thinker. Very strong in math and science, he also is a creative thinker with the same kind of off-the-wall imagination his grandfather had. For instance, one year Sam wanted to be a “dark and stormy night” for Halloween so he dressed all in black and carried a sound effects tape of a thunderstorm. Unfortunately, most people couldn’t hear the tape and thought he was a ninja. Another year, he went as a giant with Lego® men taped to the tops of his shoes.
When Sam was about 10, I enrolled him in a computer graphics summer art class. He learned how to use some programs such as Adobe Illustrator and created the abstract piece here of his initials. I imagined he would become an architect, incorporating his math skills and art talent into one field. Instead, he chose to follow in the footsteps of several family members and became a teacher, teaching physics at the high school level.
What is Your Favorite Medium?
What kind of art do you collect or are drawn to?
Collecting art can be extremely rewarding but I suppose you need to decide why you are purchasing a piece. Personally, I would never buy something just because its value might increase. Whether a piece is designed to be as functional as it is beautiful such as pottery or something that is created for purely aesthetic reasons, when I buy something, it has to speak to me, I have to be drawn to it. If you listen to your heart, you will find the right piece for you.