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Pori Art Museum in city of Pori, Finland © Porin taidemuseo

Collecting in Scandinavia 0

Barbro E. Schauman, Christie's Consultant in Finland and the Baltic States

Collecting art has a long tradition in the Scandinavian countries. Each generation has collected its contemporaries. So also today. Private collections are often the nucleus of national galleries though many have  been dissolved and dispersed through inheritance, bankruptcy, war etc.

If one considers the situation in Scandinavia in modern time it’s worth noticing that a change has taken place: banks and insurance companies, which still collected in the 1980’s have stopped buying. The contemporary art market has become the playing ground of the private person. There are several reasons for this. One is: how to justify to shareholders the use of their money for buying art? Another is simply that walls and space get filled up! There is soon a need for storage and a curator to look after the collection. Money needs to be allocated to a staff for the upkeep of the collection.

Why have banks and companies collected art?

Historically they have assumed a social role supporting artists in a time when there were few grants and no artists’ state salaries.

Today promoting art and culture is considered enhancing the quality of life for people. 

Why does the individual collect? He usually doesn’t have the well-being of people as his first objective?

There are many answers to this question. Here are some (not in any order of importance).
- a passion for art
- education of one’s self
- art as an investment
- a pastime

In the 1980’s a new phenomenon ‘site specific work’ cropped up to designate works which are conceived for a specific space, usually outdoors but not necessarily. This new concept of how to present art as an integral part of a forest, a park, a sea shore, and a cityscape has revolutionized the scope of art as a medium. It influences the passer by with or without him immediately recognizing being under the spell of something new.