“You better train your eyes before starting an art collection”

You have both the desire and the means to start an art collection, but you do not know where to start? Benedicte Goesaert has the answer. As an “artist connection”, she helps amateurs develop their collection. “The more money you have available, the more space you have to play. But the basic principles are the same: Buy mainly works that suit you.”

In 2019after eight years with the team from the Antwerp Gallery Zeno X Gallery, Benedicte Goesaert launched herself as an “artist connection”. “I learned a lot in the gallery, but I felt it was time to expand my horizons. In a gallery, you represent the artists and you try to sell their works. As an artist connection, I build a bridge between art and collectors. Today I work much more independently. Also freer. I do not really sell anymore. “” No pressure “, she adds, like the title of the exhibition, which she curates at Casttl, in Antwerp, with works from the collections of artists Carla Arochat, Stéphane Schraenen and Luc Tuymans.

It is very interesting to see what the artists themselves collect”She says during the visit to the exhibition.

Goesaert wanted to become an archaeologist, but eventually became one expert in contemporary art. “When I was a child, I found the bones of an animal in a meadow. I thought it was a dinosaur, but it was just a cow. But my interest in novelty and the unknown was already present. From there there was only a small steps to take to reach contemporary art. “

Today she works as “artist connection”. “I chose this title to make the difference in terms of consultants and art consultants, whose approach is more focused on investment. I do not avoid questions about money and the value of works – I know all the tools to evaluate works of art – but I am not an investment advisor. If anyone comes to find me to find out what to buy now to resell it in three years with capital gains, he is not at the right address.. This is not how I see art. Besides, I do not have a crystal ball. “

© Wouter Van Vooren

Let’s say I want to start an art collection and I come and knock on your door. What question would you ask me?

Benedicte Goesaert: “I want to ask you why you contacted me”. (she laughs)

“A work of art does not necessarily have to please. If you are shocked by a work, it may already be enough.”

Benedicte Goesaert

artist connection

I would need someone to guide me through the intricacies of contemporary art. The selection is too large.

Goesaert: “I fully understand you. I would especially like to know why you want to collect works of art and what is your knowledge of the subject. Imagine that I offer you a glass of an amazing wine and this is the first time you drink wine in your life. In this case, you will have a hard time putting this wine in context. Is the wine good? Or bad? Is it worth the price? You do not have a frame of reference. It’s the same with art.

If you want to start a collection, the first thing you need to do is train your eye. Do this for a few years before you start buying. Artwork scholarships are interesting. During the last edition of the Art Brussels trade fair, I organized guided tours for several graduate collectors. I can not their explain a work of art but I can their provide the keys to establishing a relationship with the work. “


Goesaert: “A work of art does not have to please. If you are shocked by a work, it may already be enough. Moreover it depends a lot on your personality and lifestyle. If you work in the technology sector, you may be affected by the jobs related to it. I’m not talking here about art on and with technology. But maybe you like artists who push the boundaries, who think differently.

Sometimes art acts as catharsis. During an emotional loss, it can be a way to make room for that loss. There are many reasons to connect with art. I still remember a discussion with a businessman and business leader who said to me: when I get home, I want to see works of art that I do not understand. As a kind of antidote to my analytical work ”.

“The German philosopher Walter Benjamin said: collecting is about gathering elements of a chaotic world and giving them meaning. That is also my opinion.”

Benedicte Goesaert

artist connection

Of course, there are several basic parameters to starting a collection. Do you want to collect works by Belgian artists and / or your generation? Are you open to non-Western art forms? These are things you need to think about. The answers form a filter that allows me to avoid any congestion. There are also collectors who buy impulsively or obsessed. They do not need me. But no matter what, art is still a fascinating universe. The German philosopher Walter Benjamin said: collecting is about gathering elements of a chaotic world and giving them meaning. That is also my opinion. “

Does it make a big difference to you whether I have 50,000 euros or a million euros to start a fundraiser?

Goesaert:The bigger your budget, the bigger your playground is. But the basic principles are the same: Above all, buy works that suit you. If you have multiple financial means, you will be able to make ‘cross collection’ easiera current trend among collectors. “

© Wouter Van Vooren

Do you recognize a collector’s personality from his collection?

Goesaert: “I would not dare say that. But you can recognize a collector on his collection. Someone who mostly has famous names in their collection seems to be playing it safe. Personally, I find it fascinating to discover a collection of artists that I do not know well or not at all. I’m not an expert on everything. In general, Belgian collectors are bold. That’s why they love art fairs so much. “

But above all, they are very discreet. Is it for fear of burglars?

Goesaert: “It’s an aspect of things, though collecting works of art is something very personal and very intimate. Not everyone is ready to reveal. Some, yes. Like the former construction contractor Walter Vanhaerents and his children who turned a warehouse in the Dansaert district of Brussels into an art gallery. Is not it amazing? Do you collect works of art from generation to generation and share your collection with the public at a private museum in Brussels? That should not be forgotten either many museums have emerged from private collections“.

Do collectors not tend to be sheepish for fear of missing a hype?

Goesaert: “It can happen. We are all governed by algorithms. If we all look at the same Instagram accounts, we end up with a uniformity. But of course, we can also deviate from that and go against all fashion trends. I spoke some time ago with a collector who had bought a work by the American artist Robert Mangold a long time ago. He had discovered it during an exhibition in Brussels. At that time, no one was interested in Mangold. But this collector had still bought one of his works. He’s still very happy about it. “

Hypes often create mixed feelings. They simultaneously lead to loss of perspective and nuance. African American artist Jack Whittenwhich also here reveals, once testified about it. He was one of the artists whose work was shown in 2017 – a year before his death – in the exhibition ‘Soul of the Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power’ at the Tate Modern in London. The initiative started from a noble goal and it was important to understand the history of African American art, he said, but in fact, this exhibition was a new kind of ghetto.

It did not correspond to reality. The artists themselves were divided. Why are my works not exhibited with white artists like Willem De Kooning and Franz Kline, whom I know well? He felt it would be the ultimate integration and artistically interesting because of the joint research in the visual arts. “

“If you’re a so-called ‘art flipper’ – someone who quickly resells what they’ve bought – you’re not given priority in some galleries.”

Benedicte Goesaert

artist connection

You worked for eight years at the Zeno X Gallery. Don’t the big galleries dominate the market too much?

Goesaert: “It’s easy to say. But all large galleries were once small. Almost always to support artists. Collectors also have power. They can market works against the advice of artists and galleries because they think they can make money. There is secret trade in the art market by non-professional traders. Of course, the galleries try to counter them as they have power.

If an artist offers ten new works and there are 50 potential buyers, the gallery will make choices. Preference will, of course, go to collectors who are genuinely interested in the artist and whose long-term intentions are known. If you’re a so-called ‘art flipper’ – someone who quickly resells what they’ve bought – you’re not given priority in some galleries. “

What do you think about the digital art market and NFTs?

Goesaert: “I’m excited about how things will develop. The art market will definitely be turned upside down. But how? I think we’ll have to wait a few years to know the exact effect. An NFT has two components. Firstly it is a tool for buying a work of artand on the other hand, it can be a work of art in itself. British artist Damien Hirst has conducted an interesting experiment with his project ‘The Currency’. It includes 10,000 NFTs and 10,000 similar physical works. The goal is to give collectors the opportunity to choose. If they want NFT, the physical work disappears. If they choose the physical work, the NFT is destroyed. I can not wait to see how it ends. “

I also think it’s exciting to see how young people approach the issue of fundraising in the digital world. They buy Nikes and Adidas, which do not exist in real life. Are they less materialistic or extremely speculative? Like, dislike. Or as on Tinder: they immediately swipe left or right. “

© Wouter Van Vooren


Benedicte Goesaert (1988) er art educated from the University of Ghent.

Between 2011 and 2019 she has worked for Xeno X Gallery.

In 2020, she has launched as an “artist connection”. In other words, it puts collectors in touch with the works. She accompanies and advises artistic heritagesuch as the Philippe Van Snick Estate, and was previously involved with the Philippe Vandenberg Foundation.

In 2021 she was co-curator of the Watou Art Festivalwith Chantal Pattyn and Peter Verhelst.

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