Today young collectors are as important to emerging artists as Gerturde Stein was in championing the likes of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. While some wealthy young collectors like to make splashy purchases to be mounted proudly over their aubergine chaise lounge, there are some young collectors who are invested is supporting true artists. Not only are these collectors interested in acquiring interesting and notable art, they are equally invested in the success and nurturing of the artist they choose to lend their support.
While Alexander Soros may be known in certain circles as the son of billionaire George Soros, this young philanthropist and political activist is slowly becoming quite respected and revered in his own right by the international art world.
Besides his recent art world cred, Alexander currently sits on the boards of Bend the Arc, which supports grassroots efforts to strengthen lower-income neighborhoods across the United States; Global Witness, which exposes and breaks the links between natural resources, conflict and corruption; and the Open Society Foundations, which work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies.
While little is known about most of the stealth blue-chip purchases made by the young Soros heir, his reputation as being one of the young, hip and knowledgeable collectors precedes him. He is very rarely seen at random art openings and gatherings, but is known to quietly visit artists studios while building personal relationship as well as introducing unique business opportunities for fledging artists. Mr. Soros' support of the creative community at large is both admirable and inspiring.
Recording artists and author, Mashonda Tifrere has over the past few years not only upped her social profile, she has upped the ante on her support for young artists as well as built a formidable pop-art collection which includes pieces by Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Sam Francis. While the beautiful Mashonda is a red carpet and charity auction favorite, don't let her pretty face fool you - she is a serious art connoisseur and a highly sought after collector.
What inspired you to begin collecting art and supporting emerging artists?
I've always been an art lover. As I child I enjoyed visiting local galleries and watching as street artist designed wall murals. As soon as I was able to afford the art that I always wanted to collect, I went for it!
As a woman, it's so important to invest your money in things that bring culture and meaning to your life. Buying expensive bags and shoes don't equate to buying a beautiful piece of art.
Who are some of your favorites artists you currently collect and why?
Right now my favorite artist is Sandra Chevrier. I see myself in all of her pieces. She creates super women. They have so much soul and pain in their eyes. Yet, they are colorful, beautiful and resilient.
I also love Ryan Hewett. I recently saw his work in London. He takes iconic figures and distorts their image. His pieces are very powerful and full of mystery.
How important is it for a collector/patron to have a real relationship with the artists they collect and support?
For me it's very important. I love to meet the artist and look into their eyes- see their joy, pain-listen to their voice. I always look at their hands. I love when they still have paint in their nails. Their life story really tells you all you need to know about their work.
Erkko Etula is a Vice President at Goldman Sachs and a tremendous supporter of young artists. It appears Mr. Etula became a fixture on the international art scene just a little over two years ago. However, he seems to have been quite active in building his art portfolio while simultaneously flying under the radar. Unlike many young collectors who spend more time in galleries and utilizing the services of art advisors and consultants, Mr. Etula likes to personally visit and become acquainted with the artists he collects and supports.
While Mr. Etula holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and formerly served as an Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, once he passes the threshold of an artist's studio, he leaves the academia and world of finance at the door and uses his eyes and heart when selecting an artist's work. While the work he collects seems to run the modern and contemporary gamut, he is particularly invested in collecting the work of women artists along with upcoming street artists. It is also believed he has recently made several blue chips acquisitions. With this in mind, we can only hope he continues to lend his support to emerging artists as well as forging a new path from the cliché "finance-guy" collector.
In addition to collecting, Mr. Etula is involved in a variety of non-profit activities focused on arts, education and emerging markets. He serves on the advisory boards of the Rue de Fleurus Foundation, the Time In Children's Arts Initiative as well as the Africa 2.0 Foundation.
photos courtesy of @alexandersorosfoundation.com, @lifestyleher.com, @erkkoetula.com