Collecting Romanian artists from 1989 to the present: Private collectors following public trends
Simona Vilau and Valentina Iancu: Art Collecting in Romania
The key-phrase of this chapter, 'private collectors following public trends', is based on an intense observation and analysis of the nowadays art phenomenon in Romania, and how does it appear in the eye of an art observer. At a glimpse, one can notice that most of the contemporary art collectors need guidance and counseling in their choices, in their investing plans, in their acquisitions and in the further development of the increasing collection. The process of collecting depends on each collector's profile and needs, but most of them had one or more art specialists (advisors, gallery-owners), or trusted professionals (artists, curators) who helped them in creating the shape of their collection. Seldom, the process of collecting is life-long, but there are exceptions, when collectors get a specific idea about what they are collecting, how much they are collecting and how much they are going to spend on art. Or, maybe, the worst case scenario, when the collector has financial issues and cannot rule this kind of investment anymore.
But it is not all about the money, business and investment. As we know, there are more 'romantic' approaches, and yet many collections are based on true friendships with artists, when the collector got the desired artworks at a lower or 'symbolic' price. The 90s in Romania, for example, were dominated by sporadic transactions, also caused by a lack of private galleries system. So, the artist was his own promoter and art dealer, in the same time. This is how many of the relations, between artists and collectors, had developed, and often became solid, 'time-proof' collaborations. And the 'price' hadn't been a commercial one, but a symbolic one. This is why almost all the visible, local collecting initiatives from the 90s were donations, except the ones that benefited by local public funds or private investment (Romanian or foreign).
Another particularity of these times is the surviving Union of Fine Artists, a national organization that, under the Communist regime, supervised, commissioned and managed all the financial transactions and all the state commissions. After 1989, their chain of commercial galleries also functioned as opportunities for selling and buying art.
After 2000, private galleries started to rise on the Romanian art scene. The first, in Bucharest, were H' art gallery, opened in 2002, and Galeria Posibila (firstly, deINTERESE), opened in 2003. They were shortly followed by Anaid Art Gallery, Bucharest (2004), Plan B, Cluj-Napoca (2005), Andreiana Mihail, Bucharest (2006), Ivan Gallery (former Hag Gallery, from 2006), also in Bucharest, and many others. I am putting into discussion only the galleries that are still active today, because in the last two decades, there were many initiatives that failed or closed, from many reasons.