Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector - art review

A collection of collections

Barbican | ★★★★☆

What art do artists like? From Damian Hirst’s extensive collection of stuffed animals and skulls to Peter Blake’s near-bottomless stock-pile of vintage road signs, many of today’s leading artists are as enthusiastic about accumulating stuff as they about making it. Over two levels of the Barbican, Magnificent Obsessions presents 8,000 objects belonging to 14 artist-collectors.
The majority of the objects appear as they do in the artist’s home, with the collectors’ own work stationed near by. In some cases, the juxtaposition is instructive (as with Howard Hodgkin’s collection of Indian paintings), in others it tells us nothing (one can only guess at the significance of photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto’s glass eye collection). A collection of collections will always struggle to do justice to each exhibit, but the glimpses into the tastes of artists make this a voyeuristic pleasure nonetheless.

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