Roderick van der Lee, photo with gloves and newspaper is an anonymous print from 1958, via the Institute for Concrete Matter by the late Frido Troost. Including Scheltens & Abbenes, Bouquet V, 2008 via Foam Editions.
In this section we let a selection of art lovers – from occasional buyers to art professionals – talk about their perception of art and preferences: where do they want to see art? Where do they purchase art, and above all: from which artists do they buy? Below, an interview with Roderick van der Lee (Director of Unseen, age 42)
What does art mean to you?
Everything and nothing. Art shouldn’t mean anything, just be there without any function or duty. On the one hand, too much weight is attributed to art, on the other hand I spend my days with it from early morning to late at night. It's my job, but in my spare time I also visit museums, fairs, galleries, dealers and auction houses - and I collect.
Bryan Schutmaat, Gas Sign, 2015, Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen.
Were you exposed to art while growing up?
I got it from home, I grew up in a house full of fine art and antiques. During my college years, my mother arranged a side job for me at the auction house of Jan Pieter Glerum, with whom she had made a book, and where she bought work. The very first work I purchased myself was from Jan Pieter as well. Once things had come full circle, the floodgates had opened.
Where do you read about the latest developments in the art world?
Mainly through the grapevine. Given my profession, I am in daily contact with people from the cultural field, and the ups and downs of the art world are discussed extensively. In addition, newspapers; both in print and online, locally, nationally and internationally.
Where do you prefer to look at art?
As director of an art fair for contemporary photography, I often visit openings to keep abreast of all developments in the artistic and commercial field, but then I mainly talk to a lot of people making it difficult to get a proper look. That's why I prefer to go again afterwards, at as quiet a time as possible, such as on a weekday, as soon as the doors open. This actually applies to museums, fairs and galleries as well.
Pieter Hugo, Burning Bush. Oaxaca de Juárez, 2018, Cokkie Snoei.
How often do you buy art each year?
Pretty much every month, really. In addition, I am often gifted a print by photographers to thank me for, for example, putting together an exhibition or have helped in some other way.
Where do you do your buying: in a gallery, at an art fair, at an auction or online?
Everywhere, but increasingly online. My latest purchase was a new photo through Instagram Stories, my penultimate work an 18th century painting via an online auction from an auction house.
Awoiska van der Molen, #589-5, 2020, Annet Gelink Gallery.
Is it important that you and your partner always agree on a purchase?
Haha, eehhh… No, I don't really consult with my partner. I try to take into account what will be on the wall in our house in Amsterdam.
Do you have a special relationship with any one gallery?
A lot, mainly because of the Unseen and Photo London fairs that I organized. I have built up a special bond with many of them that I cherish greatly, also personally.
If you had an unlimited budget, who would you buy a work from?
A house designed by Tadao Ando, does that count? In my opinion, Ando's architecture - the proportions between the spaces, straight lines and everything made of concrete – provides an ideal contrast with the expressive and dynamic nature of art and design. Richard Avedon strikes a special chord with me as a photographer, both in his technique and in his sensitivity and aesthetics in capturing his subjects.
Who are your favourite artists?
The beautiful, thematic documentary work by Pieter Hugo, which is simultaneously confronting and alienating.
The atmospheric, empty black-and-white landscapes of Awoiska van der Molen, with deep blacks in which you can disappear.
I particularly like the work Lonneke van der Palen makes outside her studio, in which she captures accidental compositions "in the wild" with the same view as her studio work.
Lonneke van der Palen, Trash Treasures #1, South Africa, 2017, Galerie Fleur & Wouter.