Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Art and the ?Love Factor?

Guggenheim counsels on smart collecting

Express Staff Writer

A home filled with fine art is akin to a garden full of rare flowers. It is exhilarating, sometimes expensive to achieve, but oh so satisfying. Like a garden, however, going it alone in the art collecting game can be a journey of mishaps. This is where consultants come into play.

One of the country's best-known art consultants, Barbara Guggenheim, visits Ketchum as part of the Sun Valley Visual Arts Forum, June 23-24. The forum is being held as a celebration of the Sun Valley Gallery Association's 25th anniversary.

Guggenheim is a partner in the firm, Guggenheim, Asher Associates, with offices in Beverly Hills and New York City. For the past 25 years, Guggenheim has built collections for some of the country's top corporations and numerous individuals, including many celebrities—such as Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg. She holds a doctorate in Art History from Columbia University, has taught at the college level, lectured at the Whitney Museum and worked at Sotheby's and Christie's auction houses in New York City.

Guggenheim regularly contributes to W and ELLE magazines and has written two books, including "Decorating on eBay," chronicling her experiences decorating a model house entirely with objects she purchased on eBay.

She lectures around the world on all aspects of art collecting. She lives in Malibu with her husband, entertainment lawyer Bert Fields.

Guggenheim said her main advice for collectors of any caliber is to take time.

"You don't have to spend a fortune to get in on the act. (You can) have as much fun as Steve Wynn, without having as much money. Do it wisely. Do your homework," she said. "It's fun and you shouldn't be intimidated by the great sums that are being thrown around."

As a consultant and lecturer, her travels take her to many locales around the world, and her favorite museum is the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

"Everybody relates to art in a different way," she said. "Some people like the life, the openings, the artist studios. Others don't want to deal with living artists or be swayed by charm and conversations. Others do it as an intellectual challenge to educate themselves. Some do it as a hobby or on vacation, and others do it for status in the community. And it can be a combination of all of that."

Her talk will encompass her knowledge of the collecting business, as well as practical advice. "More and more people are interested," she said. "Everyone wants to get in on the act. How? That's what my lecture will be."

Guggenheim will give participants at her lecture a map to help them negotiate their way in the art market. For example, she advises: "Be careful when you're on holiday. You know, you're walking down a street, holding hands and you want something to remember the vacation by. Don't be swayed by the emotion."

This differs from what she calls the "Love Factor," which is about literally falling in love with a painting and not being able to get it out of your head.

"It's very, very hard to find the next Monet or Picasso," she said. "It's hard when the art market moves so quickly as it does today."

Next week: Francoise Gilot

Visual Arts Forum

Friday, June 23: The Sun Valley Visual Arts Forum, 6-8 p.m., nexStage Theatre, Ketchum. Entrepreneur/art collector Steve Wynn discusses the passion behind his collecting and introduces Francoise Gilot, acclaimed artist/author ("Life with Picasso") at 6:30 p.m. Paintings by Gilot will be on exhibit. Gilot will take participants on a journey through her life as an artist and as Picasso's muse; living through a critical time in art history and knowing such artists as Matisse, Giacometti and more.

Tickets: Reserved seating, including open bar, $35. General seating is $15, wine and drink may be purchased at the event. Tickets will be available at the door, but pre-registration is encouraged. Visit or call Gallery DeNovo, (208) 726-8180. Saturday, June 24: The Sun Valley Gallery Association galleries host an open house from 9 a.m. - noon. Barbara Guggenheim speaks at 2 p.m., "How to be Smart: Money and Art" at the nexStage Theatre.

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