Don’t just buy, give yourself time to learn, build an area of interest, and rely on a good consultant. Sheldon Inwentash tells Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo that, in order to make sensible choices, you have to begin from a distance.
Originally from Toronto, where after graduating in economics he dedicated himself to the development of startups, Sheldon Inwentash is an entrepreneur with a passion for contemporary art, who has been collecting “seriously and on a strict schedule” for more than seven years, together with his wife Lynn Factor
What was your first acquisition? A 1993 painting by Sean Scully, Cali, and a 1980 painting by Julian Schnabel, The fountain of youth, purchased on a trip to London.
How did you start collecting? The journey really does begin when you start understanding what you are missing. I’ve tried to learn as much as possible, reading a lot and visiting important exhibitions, but it’s essential to rely on a good consultant. When confronted with a work, people react in different ways, and there is no right or wrong path to collecting. You can also expect your strategy and tastes to evolve over time. I often get recommendations to buy what I like, but I don’t agree: you need to know the general context of art to make good choices.
Three things to know before buying an artwork? What are the conditions of conservation, the reputation of the gallery and its origin, its history.
What are the criteria to determine if the price that is asked for a work of art is fair? Establishing the value of a work is very difficult. Galleries do their best to assign a fair price, but there may be fluctuations and divergent assessments. Auctioneers are an important source of information to determine the value of a work, but even their results cannot be relied upon blindly. Finally, just because a piece has “a certain” value does not mean that you can sell it at that price.
Who are the most interesting emerging artists and which ones deserve to be rediscovered? Harold Ancart, Matt Connors and Kevin Beasley are three excellent emerging artists. Among the names to be rediscovered, we are particularly interested in those who have been underestimated for ethnic reasons or because they are women.
What exhibitions and events would you recommend for this year? Unless art is your main occupation, the must-see events are the Venice Biennale and the Basel Fair.
Is the Internet helpful in staying up to date with the world of art? I read the Artnet news every day. There’s a lot of information on the internet, but I don’t use the web. I read books about artists I’m interested in, including essays published in exhibition catalogues. Our curator, David Moss, takes us to museums to talk about the relevance of art history in relation to the areas of our interest.
Tell us about your winery in Tuscany? Tenuta Le Calvane is located in Montespertoli (F1). We recently opened a boutique hotel with 12 rooms, housed in a 15th century monastic building surrounded by vineyards. We are also in the process of renovating a large hunting lodge nearby, where we now bottle our own wine and olive oil. The idea is to create an international residence for artists who would find here the ideal environment for new productions, giving hotel guests the opportunity to meet them and visit their studios.
Any suggestions for a holiday in Canada? Vancouver is beautiful in summer, Banf, in the Alberta region, in winter; Ontario and the east coast offer unique destinations, such as the island of Fogo. As for museums, I suggest the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
Influences. Above, “Fire Below” (2014), by Frarik Bimba. Right, “Omega I” (1978), by Jack Whitten. Left, “Combustion” (1969), by Sam.
Personally. Left, a shot of Sheldon Inwentash during a visit to Ellen Gallagher’s studio in Rotterdam in 2017. In the middle, “Untitled” (2016), by Harold Ancart.