Art in Luxembourg banks - Part III: Bonn & Schmitt Avocats
Alex Schmitt, managing partner of the law firm Bonn & Schmitt owns a sophisticated collection of contemporary art that can be admired at his offices in Luxembourg city. As one of those privileged people who can turn their passion into a real hobby, Maître Schmitt provides us with an insight into his acquisition strategy and turns out to be a real connoisseur of the art market.
Where are your new acquisitions executed? At art fairs, in galleries or privately via agents?
Actually, I buy art everywhere: in New York, London, Paris or Basel. I make the acquisitions myself, mostly at galleries, but also at art fairs, if I see something there by chance. Often, the gallery where I usually buy exhibits at these art fairs.
What kind of art do you collect and why?
I began collecting art in 1978 because of the pleasure of it. I have always been interested in contemporary art and only buy things that please me. I know the market quite well, because I have been dealing with art for quite a long time and sometimes I read the specialist literature. And so it became a hobby. If you have been monitoring the market for 30 years, you develop a sense of anticipation for art and a relation to it. Basically, I collect drawings and some photographs, but I am mainly interested in oil paintings and modern techniques.
Do you concentrate more on particular artists or on different artworks?
If I like the work of an artist, it can happen that I buy several pieces. The Belgian artist Jean-Luc Moerman, for example, is represented by six works of art in this office. I like figurative art, but do not fear art critical of society. There is for example this French artist, Damien Deroubaix, who is very interesting.
Is Belgian art underestimated?
Belgium art is for connoisseurs. The Belgian surrealists like Magritte and Paul Delvaux are beautiful, not to mention the artists from the turn of the century like Fritz Van Den Berghe, Leon de Smet and Gus de Smet. But the follow-up takes place on a very regional basis.
Do you support newcomers ?
I own several newcomers. These are artists that I like and from whom I buy quite often, for example Ryan Mendoza or the Serbian artist Maja Josifovi. Her works are very peculiar, but beautiful. Actually, I collect what I like and what fits into my thought pattern. In general, I acquire art pieces that are very young. The luck of the draw led me to contemporary art, but I also like art from the ‘20s, the ‘30s and the ‘50s, as well as art from the late Middle Ages. If you have a real relation to art, the period doesn’t matter. My favourite museum, for example, is the Prado in Madrid. All those Spanish and Flemish artists are wonderful.
Did your budget for the acquisition of art remain the same during the crisis?
I have a budget that I adapt as needed. I didn’t reduce the budget during the crisis, rather I also bought artworks that were a little bit more expensive. When I am really inspired, I can buy many things, but this year I have been cautious. I bought two monotypes from Elizabeth Peyton in Berlin. The problem is, if you have two many pieces, it becomes difficult to manage, exhibit and live with them. With 200 or 300 pieces, I have now reached a certain point, where you cannot acquire things blindly anymore. Where do I put it? I also have works of art at home, but at some point there is no empty wall left.
For you personally, is the act of collecting more important than the collections?
What I enjoy most is discovering new things. Today there are so many possibilities for acquiring art, at exhibitions or via Internet. You don’t need to go to Paris or New York to buy art, it has become so easy.
Pictures from top to bottom:
EVA & ADELE
Futuring Company N°42
Gouache and Pastel on canvas
Lilibeth Cuenca in Hamburg