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JONTY LEVIN

London based collector

{Artsper}: Tell us a few words about yourself?
{Jonty Levin}: South African born and bred, London-based for eight years now, with a career in finance but passionate about art and fascinated by the art market.

{Artsper}: When and how did you buy your first artwork?
{Jonty Levin}: My first artworks were editioned prints that I bought from a gallery in Johannesburg when I started furnishing my first flat. The gallerist showed me a range of works she had, and I chose a few from the selection as well as other pieces that I saw about the gallery. My first British acquisition was a painting which I saw at Zoo, a defunct Frieze satellite event, and which struck me for its strong presence yet it had been made with an economy of mark-making. I felt I didn’t want to live without it and so acted on my instinct.

{Artsper}: What is your favourite intermediary to buy art? Do you buy mostly from galleries, during art fairs or directly to artists?
{Jonty Levin}: I prefer to buy from artists directly as I enjoy interacting with them and learning about their practices. Often, it is through this interaction that an appreciation of their works develops. I get so much insight just by being in their studios and looking at the books they have and the images they have on their mood boards. And it is fascinating to see works in the various stages of progress. Art fairs are enormously enjoyable for their huge range which is great way of expanding awareness of artists and galleries. I do follow some galleries and have indeed bought from them: it wouldn’t be fair to undercut those gallerists who have promoted artists I have encountered as a result of their efforts. I especially like Copperfield, Breese Little, Purdy Hicks and the Photographer’s Gallery Print Sales Gallery.

{Artsper}: Do you follow the career of the artists that you are buying from?
{Jonty Levin}: Yes: both before and after. I seldom purchase pieces spontaneously without regard as to the artist. For me, buying art is about being able to always enjoy the acquired works but it is also about backing the artists and lending my support to them in their journey. Therefore, I like to have confidence that the artists, in addition to having interesting things to say and who say it in an engaging manner, will have staying power as a result of their commitment to their craft or because they have succeeded in gaining traction. And I like to engage with them on an ongoing basis and hear of their news and progress: it is interesting to see how their practices evolve and develop. Sometimes I’ve been able to bring them to the attention of other collectors which is a way of supporting them further even if I don’t have the financial means to do so.

{Artsper}: Do you consider your collection predominantly as investments or as object of pleasure?
{Jonty Levin}: I follow the old adage of buying what I love, but I do hope to have a collection one day that proves to have a lasting value – both in terms of monetary value and in terms of meaning and impact, so I do aim to buy works from artists who I believe are doing interesting work and will in time secure greater endorsement. My collection is also a record of the development of my appreciation and knowledge of art, and a means of surfacing issues that evidently preoccupy me.

{Artsper}: How do you keep an eye on the news of contemporary art?
{Jonty Levin}: I regularly visit Artdaily, Blouin Artinfo, and The Art Newspaper (web version) for general art news, and I follow Paul Carey-Kent’s blog for quick and engaging commentary on current artshows in London. I identify young and emerging artists who I want to follow collect by keeping abreast with the annual selections of the Catlin Guide curated by Justin Hammond, the Saatchi New Sensations show, the Photographer’s Gallery’s Wide Eyed and Fresh Faced show and Bloomberg’s New Contemporaries.

{Artsper}: What is your favourite movement?
{Jonty Levin}: I don’t have a favourite movement and try learn about the different strands of art practice by attending exhibitions offered by the national galleries, the Tates and the Royal Academy. I generally enjoy contemporary more than art made in the past.

{Artsper}: Do you have a tip for someone who wants to start a collection?
{Jonty Levin}: Set yourself an annual budget for art acquisitions and be disciplined about not spending that money on other things, and set a per work and/or artist limit so that you build your collection by several pieces a year. In so doing, you will develop a wider knowledge as you search for pieces that make the grade and your selections will more speedily cohere into a collection.
And when you come across a piece which causes you to experience the same emotions as falling in love, then buy it. You’ll not regret it: the joy you’ll experience every time you encounter the work in your home will be undiminished.

{Artsper}: As a collector, what do you think about the website Artsper?
{Jonty Levin}: Artsper already has a significant range of works from across Europe which will likely increase as it becomes more established in its different markets.


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Paulette Tavormina, Wild Raspberries, After GG, Photography

Paulette Tavormina

Wild Raspberries, After GG, 2013
40.6 x 50.8 cm
Photography

€2 100