Peter Ibsen is an art collector based in Copenhagen, Denmark. His background as a successful entrepreneur gave him the opportunity from an early age to collect art. Today his collection spans over 150 to 200 pieces of minimalistic, abstract and monochrome art. In the past years he has made a career shift into the art scene. First by curating the international art fair in Copenhagen, CODE in 2016 and today he runs his own gallery Sunday-S showing minimalist and abstract art to an international audience. Besides that, he runs the online blog Copenhagen Contemporary featuring interviews with his favorite artists. This gives Peter the opportunity to work with his all-time favorite activity; collecting art and to extend his view and knowledge about it.
When did you start collecting art, and why?
I’ve been collecting since the 90’s. It all started with an art piece I saw in the window at a gallery. I just really wanted but I was already sold. Fortunately, because a few days later I was invited to the artist’s studio and found another painting I liked. It was such an amazing experience for me and since then I’ve been collecting. It wasn’t like I decided to collect – it just kind of happened out the blue. For some years I collected very bright, colorful and figurative art until the day I stumbled over a black art piece of Gregor Hildebrandt made out of cassette tape on canvas. It irritated me. I thought to myself “how can this be art?”. There was no motif, no subject. It was annoying. But I bought it because something about it intrigued me. From then I started to collect much more abstract, minimalistic and monochrome pieces.
“I remember many years ago, someone asked me about the direction in my collection, I couldn’t give any answer and it hit me.. there was none; and I had just been stumbling around in blindness without any real focus. Game changer.. I decided to get to rid of all the figurative stuff soon after.”
What about the artwork makes you decide to select it to add to your collection?
I mainly collect works from six to eight different artists, which indicate the core of my collection. Beyond that I collect a few younger or newer artist in the early stages of their careers. That gives me the opportunity to follow them, which I think is very interesting. When I buy I always look into the background of the artist if I haven’t collected pieces from him or her before. One thing is to feel an instant love for an art piece but that’s not necessary enough for me. To me art or the quality of an art piece is just as much about all the stuff going on around the artists, their social environment, and the histories behind. Therefore, it can be a very long process buying art. Most important, collecting is to me of course about the art but I see the social aspects just as essential. To meet the artists and visit them in their studios.
“In the end when you bring home a new painting, sculpture, or work of art, you feel the romance, the passion and this is what it’s all about: Feeling it and living with it on a daily basis..”
Are there specific pieces you look for before choosing to buy?
Today I always go for minimalistic and abstract art. I tend, as mentioned, to follow the artist I already collect but I also use especially Instagram to check out new artist I could find interesting. One starting point I often take is look at the artists in my collection’s social sphere. They often surround themselves with other intriguing artist that reflects my taste. And in many cases artists have the best eyes !!
Do you have any advice for new collectors?
Be thorough. Buying art is not supposed be easy and shallow. As mentioned above, always look into the artist before buying. Read about the person; dig into the artist history of shows, placements in other collections and so on. You have to take it seriously and if you do so it will be long and fantastic journey full of interesting experiences. And ask. Ask or talk to other collectors or gallerists whose collection you like or find interesting. They will most likely give you their advice since you have the same taste and everyone loves to share their passion.
“One thing that hit me within these last few months, and especially after founding Sunday-S, is how extremely hard it is to be an artist. I meet so many talented and gifted artists that are fighting to get a show, get noticed, just to get their name out there. When you are on the collector side of the table — as I was for many years, and still am — you rarely see the other side of the industry. These artists — young or old, unnoticed or forgotten — deserve so much more respect than a like, or a flip of a JPEG. It’s truly an eye-opener to meet and feel their lives. When I was just a collector, I had no idea. The same also goes for gallerists. It's tough, and it's so much hard work. It's not just chilled white wine and fancy parties every Friday.”