A couple of weeks ago, the opening of SF MoMA prompted Thomas Sevcik, a strategist, to opine in the Financial Times that the creative industries were turning their orientation toward the West, the Far West where tech and Asia converge.
It’s not a bad thesis but then Sevcik tips his empty hand when he starts to riff on the subject of which West Coast creative types might be persuaded to collect art next.
What Sevcik doesn’t seem to know is that there are many people in Tech who already buy heavily and have for a long time. Not just newer tech people like Marc Andreessen but old tech folks like Paul Allen.
This leads to an important question, one that is regularly heard anywhere art impresarios convene: “Will tech buy art?” The success of all these new ventures depends on the hope that the shift from finance to tech as the key wealth generator will happen smoothly. Traditionally, bankers collected art because many of them had a humanities education. Will people educated in digital technology collect art as well? And, for that matter, will Hollywood’s actors and directors, trained in narrative-creation and self-branding, collect art?
It’s not clear where Sevcik got the idea that bankers bought art because they had humanities educations. That’s a bit silly and reductive. Besides, he’s over-looking West Coast bankers like Charles Schwab who ranks high on anyone’s list of big deal collectors.
As for Hollywood, when didn’t they buy art in LA? A collector like Edward G. Robinson, whose purpose built gallery space you can see above, started buying French paintings 80 years ago. He was followed a few years later by Jacques Gelman who produced films by the Mexican star Cantiflas. His collection became a major donation to the Met in New York. Steve Martin and David Geffen are only the most recognizable names of collectors we associate with LA and the movie business. There are are many more.