Going Public: International Art Collectors in Sheffield

Nov 27 2015

Exhibition Curator Louisa Briggs talks about the collections on display as part of Going Public: International Art Collectors in Sheffield:

I can’t quite believe we’re nearly at the end of Going Public: International Art Collectors in Sheffield, an exhibition that’s on show at five different venues across the city. This project had been in the pipeline for several years before it came to fruition and it was a huge undertaking for all involved. It was a very busy but exciting summer as artworks travelled across the world by plane, boat and lorry to arrive in Sheffield ready for the show.

The works have been lent by four different private collectors – Nicolas Cattelain, a French collector based in London, Egidio Marzona based in Berlin, Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo from Turin, and Dominique and Sylvain Levy who are based in Paris. The exhibition includes some fantastic works, some of which have rarely been seen in public. Although I’ve worked with private collectors before to borrow individual works for exhibitions, I’ve never shown such a large number of artworks from one collection.

Lewis Baltz, Candlestick Point,1989It’s been fascinating to hear how each of the collectors acquire their works, and to hear why they started to collect. Each of the collections is very different and this is reflected in the exhibition. As you look around the different venues, you get a real sense of the individual collector’s tastes and interests. Nicolas Cattelain’s collection at the Millennium Gallery focuses on Minimal and Conceptual Art from the 60s and 70s, and work by contemporary artists who explore the legacy of these ideas in their work; Egidio Marzona has created one of the most comprehensive archives of avant-garde art from the 20th century, a very small selection of which is on show at Graves Gallery; Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo’s collection at the Cathedral focuses on work that explores social and political events and comments on contemporary life; and Dominique and Sylvain Levy collect art by contemporary Chinese artists, with a special focus on work from the Guangdong Province, a selection of this is on show in the Going Public exhibitions at SIA Gallery and Site Gallery. Although all the collections are very different, the one thing they have in common is that a passion for art and artists lies at their heart.

The stereotype of the private collector is someone who keeps their collection on the walls of their home, rarely letting anyone see it. One of the refreshing things about this project was dealing with collectors who challenged this stereotype. All of the collectors talk very passionately about the importance of sharing their work with the public, feeling they have a social responsibility to do so. They’ve found different ways to do this, for example through the creation of their own exhibition spaces, gifts of artworks to museums or through digitising collections and making them available online. This sense of sharing is one of the reasons why they were excited about their work ‘going public’ in Sheffield.

Going Public- International Art Collectors in Sheffield is on show at Graves Gallery, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield Cathedral, Site Gallery and SIA until 12 December.


Image: Lewis Baltz, Candlestick Point, 1989 © the artist, courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander. Photo courtesy Cattelain Collection.


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