The Easel

Why People Collect Art

A somewhat less than charitable history of art collecting. The Roman rhetorician Quintilian deemed art collecting “an ostentatious desire to seem persons of superior taste.” Tax evasion and spreading one’s “message” also get a nod.  A favourite bad boy is J Paul Getty.  He bought antiquities because that’s what European aristocrats did. He eventually placed these treasures in the Getty Museum but never visited.