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AXA Art Collectors Survey

  • Art Collecting
March 26, 2014
Ana Bambic Kostov specializes in contemporary art writing, editing, content creation and management. Connect via LinkedIn

A renowned art insurance company AXA Art published a survey recently, after an extensive research of collectors. The goal of the study is to show and classify types of collectors of today’s art market, and to present what they collects, how and why they do it. The results of the survey are exceptionally interesting, especially since the collecting activity has been reviewed from a current point of view. AXA Art publication testifies to the diversity of contemporary collectors, encompassing almost 1,000 international figures.

Art Collecting
Selim Varol Collection of OBEY Posters

Four types of collectors

Survey participants are distinguished by four different categories, defining their reasons for collecting. The art aficionado encircles 37% of the surveyed, with their prime motivation being strong enthusiasm for all art. The traditionalist covers only 16% of the pool, following the lasting tradition of collecting, usually bound to their family. The investor appears a little more often, encompassing 24% of the participants, wanting to enrich his investment portfolio. And the hybrid collector covers a significant section of 23% of the collectors’ pool, including all the participants whose collecting drives are so diverse and cannot be categorized in any meaningful way. The one shared characteristic of 100% collectors is the enjoyment they find in collecting.

A very interesting fact is that the great majority of the surveyed are highly educated males, of age between 40 and 69. Most of collectors listed paintings as their prime objective, followed by works on paper and sculpture. About a half of the partakers collects photography.

Art Collecting
Peggy Guggenheim in her Venetian palace, 1961. Photo from VOGUE Italia.

The role of Internet and online art purchase

One of the most interesting traits of the survey was the issue of Internet. It was found that although over 95% of current collectors do use the internet as the foremost medium in gathering information, only 34% actually purchase art online. This portrays the still secondary role of the worldwide web in the art trade, but it’s undoubtful its importance is increasing. Regardless of the 42% of collectors who claim to be uncompromising when it comes to online acquisitions, the rates of the principle gripping art lovers are continuously decreasing, while the Internet is growing as a convenient and omnipresent platform for accessing artwork.

Art Collecting
L&E Private Art Collection of Latin Art

Why and what they collect?

AXA portrayed what could be considered an average collectors’ pool, as 1 in 10 participants in the research possesses a collection worth over $1 million, and about 15% keep treasures of less than $100,000 in value. Their criteria for accumulating art are various, and over half stated they trust their instinct, while 30% based their purchases on research of item quality. Only 5% leans on the plan made by a curator.

When it comes to why, this may be the most difficult question to answer. The majority of collectors agree they are driven by their love of beautiful things, their passion for art or they develop their connoisseurship through learned acquisitions. The information on the piece is definitely an imperative for all compilers, as 95% of them said art fairs are great places to find all the necessary info. However, a large percentage of 73% still prefers buying their art in art galleries rather than on fairs.

The survey of AXA Art revealed many interesting facts about currently active art collectors and hinted some trends as well. But as the market evolves, so do the collectors, and in a few years it will be interesting to review the changes on some of the most dynamic market sections, while the Internet will probably become increasingly important.

Art Collecting
Legendary Peggy Guggenheim in her Venetian palace