How to collect contemporary art

The Whitechapel Gallery course that puts enthusiasts in the picture

Image: Guy Montagu Pollock

While centuries-old “greats” are firmly established in the annals of art history, “new” art can be more confusing and difficult to put into context. But if you have a taste for modern art and an interest in learning more about it – or have even thought about starting a collection but don’t quite know how to get started, let alone how to navigate the market – then London’s Whitechapel Gallery (pictured) has just the course for you.


The tailormade, three-week course runs from September 24 and offers students exclusive access to leading artists’ studios in east London (Bob and Roberta Smith, David Batchelor, Boo Saville and Lydia Gifford are just some of those who’ve been visited in the past), to a contemporary-art collector’s home to discuss how to shape a collection, and to a top auction house. It also includes visits to some of east London’s best commercial galleries (the Whitechapel couldn’t be better placed: it’s surrounded by other vibrant galleries, studios and art happenings).


Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick kicks off the proceedings herself, with a guide to contemporary art – “From Warhol to Whitehead” – covering the 1960s up to the present day. Towards the end of the course, participants can attend the private view of Mel Bochner’s exhibition at the gallery, and will be taken on a curator-led tour of some of Frieze Art Fair’s highlights – by which time they should all be feeling rather more confident about giving the credit card a (creative) workout.

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