Yves Klein in 1959 famously ideated a work called Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility where he sold empty space, an immaterial zone in the form of a certificate in exchange for gold; provided that the man who bought the certificate proceeded to burn it in front of the artist and other witnesses, making this purchase entirely ‘immaterial’. What drove Dino Buzzati and others who went along with this ritual, and paid for it in gold? Why would anyone acquire a work of art without ever being able to entirely posses it? Art makes a commodity and market out of something that has very little material value and at the same time is deemed priceless, which makes it almost impossible to formulaically predict the way the system functions. Yet Yves Klein was able to assume a buyer, a figure that was almost entirely necessary for this work to even come to exist, even as pure idea, and participate in completing it. While cynics would love to relegate collecting art to an investment like any other, driven by capital, what they often do not take into account is that this capital often contributes as much as it profits from the myth-making capacity of the art market. What we attempt to unravel here is the art of collecting, one that feeds and is sustained by the art world. The seeds for this issue were planted by the rather eventful session on collectors earlier this year at a forum in Chennai. (Those who attended know why!) Taking that further, it seemed fair to allow the collector some discursive space, and what better place for it than TAKE!
The process of putting this issue together threw patches of light on the figure of the collector. In every one of them, in varying proportions lies the whimsical, erratic hoarder, as well as the strategic mind that hunts down what she/he wants. But interestingly for most, more than the collection, it is the process that is compulsive. It would be safe to say that there is a subjective, individual logic behind collecting art. Most art collectors are capable of the passion and scholarship of an ornithologist, the compulsiveness of a gambler, the intuition of a stock broker and the impulsiveness of a shopaholic while they would all be rather known for their connoisseurship.
At the same time, it was a difficult issue to put together, realising how fiercely protective collectors can be of their possessions. Many of them photographed their homes for the first time at our persistence, and poured their heart out. Yet, with the collectors and their practices that we were able to inspect, we have tried to get a fair sense of the varied focus of collections, the various impulses and projects. Especially when dealing with huge collections, access to the public becomes debatable. We have featured the private museum phenomenon through conversations with Anupam Poddar and Kiran Nadar; while Ramin Salsali expounds on his efforts to encourage emerging collectors at the Salsali Private Museum. Monique and her team speak about their curatorial efforts with the Burger Collection. Priya Paul’s acquisitions for The Park and Namita Saraf ’s project for The Hyatt under Rajeev Sethi’s curatorial capacity, enmeshes art into hotel spaces. Sandra Mulliez, Edouard Carmignac and Tina Ambani’s collecting practices mark a departure, extending to a lifetime’s commitment towards the arts through their various outreach initiatives. The ‘makeover’ man, Manish’s conversation with Deepika Sorabjee provides an interlude into inventive display and use of corporate spaces for the public display of art and furthering this, Ashiesh Shah’s collections gives us an insight on interiors and architectural interventions. And then there are notes born out of close friendships such as Shireen Gandhy’s intimate account of Czaee Shah regaling her journey as a collector. A specifi ed focus on global interest in Indian art is brought to the issue by Deepanjana Klein who writes on early American collectors of art from this part of the world. Sandeep Reddy’s conversation with Sharmistha Ray and Anurag Khanna’s with Deepika Sorabjee reveals the thought processes of aware and informed collectors, who are driven by their personal vision and are willing to experiment with international artists. With the antique and textile collections of Lilly Vijayaraghavan and Ranvir Shah, we attempted to change the trajectory of focus on contemporary collections in the issue. As much as we endeavored, we have not been able to do justice in several ways, and collectors like Harsh Goenka, Rajshree Pathy, Aveek and Rakhi Sarkar, Vivek Gupta and many others could not be featured due to time constraints and other limitations, and we hope to feature them in the Part II of the issue slated for 2013.
Further down, Manisha Gera Baswani composes an inspiring visual/textual ode in reverence of the great, veteran artists who have stood the test of time in her regular ‘The Fly on the Wall’. A special feature on the documenta 13 awaits with Robert Kluijver writing on the Afghanistan arm of the documenta and a photo essay by Amar Kanwar as he allows a peak into The Sovereign Forest that marked his participation for the third time consecutively in this year’s documenta. Dr. Alka Pande, at her end provides a comprehensive overview of this year’s documenta with a comparative breakdown of the previous years. The reports include Maya Kovskaya’s account of the discourse that was triggered by the Experimenter Curatorial Hub. And, in this issue we are also excited to announce Paroma Maiti as the recipient of the Art Scribes’ Award.
Collecting art and the process of creating a collection, at certain times is also a result of amassed gallops of shared moments of friendship and a collective passion, shared thereafter. It would seem meaningless to wrap up this issue, which revels in the fervor of collecting, without a heartfelt tribute to the iconic photographer Prabuddha Dasgupta. Abhishek Poddar does so for TAKE through the moving account of his association and a sense of gratitude he draws towards the photographer, who inspired him to build Tasveer to patronise the photographic arts. Together, they make up a profound fall issue for TAKE on art following a series of tours with the previous issue, TAKE Biennale guest edited by Ranjit Hoskote, in its role as a media partner to Art Basel 43, Art HK 12, and Art Gwangju 12, culminating in a splendid Mumbai launch at Jnanapravaha in September.