Owen Reynolds Clements is a private consultant and independent curator based in New York.
How did you first get interested in contemporary art?
I was a photo nerd in high school, lived in the darkroom. I would tear out pages from photo books in the library and hang them on my bedroom wall – Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, Diane Arbus, Mapplethorpe. I navigated the city by way of taking pictures, seeking out what was new or exciting. I learned a lot, found a lot, photography was sort of the gateway drug which lead me into the world of artists and galleries and contemporary art. Matthew Barney’s “Cremaster Cycle” at the Guggenheim in 2002 was really spectacular, everything was really spectacular at that time. The show opened up my perception of what art is and what art could be. It expanded; art was no longer in my head just a painting or a photograph or a sculpture, it was this massively precious idea that was exploding in my path, it was an entire industry of exchange. That did it. My interest was piqued and I was then compelled to participate.
First artwork you ever bought or were gifted?
I bought an Alex Rose collage from the show Bob Nickas had curated at Envoy Enterprises in 2008. Rose is a bit of an outsider, has a unique authentic practice, dark but romantic.
Upcoming show you’re looking forward to?
Hanna Liden at The Fireplace Project, East Hampton and TM Davy at Exile, Berlin. Also, Alex Isreal at Peres Projects, Berlin.
What’s a common mistake new collectors make from your experience consulting people?
Young collectors may tend to overlook older, more historical works. A collector can have a contemporary focus, but there should be some depth to it. I think it is important to consider works made in the late 60′s and early 90′s. There is a connection right now, economically, politically, socially, to those time periods. I think the addition of work from the recent past would enhance the conversation within a young contemporary collection. Presenting a sensitivity to the history of a specific theme or certain aesthetic you are collecting is impressive.
Do not be hesitant. Especially when you are young or new, just go for it. Purchase work fairly consistently and often. Keep your relationships with dealers and artists well oiled. Make a bold gesture once in a while, Buying an entire solo show, or a large majority of it, by a promising emerging artist early on in their career, is smart. Everyone looks good, you have a stronger relationship to the gallery, the artist has a hot sold out show, people will talk, new work will be in demand, there is energy. And in the future, if necessary, you are then able to sell off one or two, while holding onto the rest, maintaing your credibility and integrity as a collector of the work.