Mark Allen Svede

Sometimes it’s a challenge because it can be hard to think of a way to display them at home or at least to find a way of preserving them. The challenge isn’t the first thing I think of when I consider an acquisition, but bearing in mind life with four dogs and six cats – perhaps it should be.

For you to like a work of art – it has to surprise you?

It’s definitely an attraction if a work surprises me. Also – if I feel that the artist has himself found the process of creating the work to be full of discovery. I value the unexpected.

Is the artist as a person a deciding factor when you acquire a work?

It’s natural to take an interest in the artist if an artist’s work speaks to you. For example, if I had personal antipathies toward an author of a work, I wouldn,t be eager to collect that person,s work. Of course, if someone gave me a Futurist painting by Umberto Boccioni as a gift, I wouldn’t reject it. This despite Boccioni having said that he thought the First World War was a good idea. But I might not cling to my principles quite so strongly in such a case. (Laughs.)

What do you think about the global art market? Has it become too influential?

In my view it is exceedingly interesting that objects with such intangible value are among the most secure investments – safer than even real estate. Thank God, I don’t need to worry about such things, since I don’t aqcuire works in order to sell them later. I cannot imagine parting with even a single work in my possession.

It is also interesting that the art market in different countries works differently. It functions differently in Latvia, for example. I can’t say that I am fully familiar with how it operates in principle, but I am repeatedly pleased to see that it survives – that there are buyers, and that there is money with which to purchase art.

Otherwise, when speaking of prices and prestige – it has really always been true that art has offered an opportunity to launder money whilst simultaneously providing an avenue for the acquisition of a respectable status. Some of the greatest art collections in America were developed by robbers who later wanted to appear refined and cultured before society. But I am more fascinated by how an opposition to the art market in the United States was formed by artists themselves, most pronouncedly in the 1970s. Conceptualism, as we know, was a reaction against the turning of works of art into consumer goods.

How these things work in Latvia would be worthy of further study. I am surprised, for example, that the Latvian artist Kristaps Ģelzis and some of his contemporaries could do well in the art market today.