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Are Artists Hoarders?

Tuesday 14 April 2015
Words Ailis Mara

We’ve all watched ‘Hoarders Next Door’ and thought that most of them are pretty much just bonkers. But have you ever wondered if they’re onto something artistic? Now that thought probably hasn’t crossed your mind, but it’s something worth thinking about.

When you are first introduced to extreme hoarders, most are truly shocked by the amount of ‘junk’ these people can’t throw away. But what if those items become collectors’ items? What if they’re pieces of art? Compulsive hoarding means excessively acquiring items that appear of little or no value and not being able to throw them away resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter. However, clutter to one person is gold to another. We’re not trying to say its okay to have a house filled with ancient newspapers, 7 broken microwaves, 100s of damaged electronics, 500 cats and a door that no one can get through but… We wonder if you’ve ever thought of artists as hoarders?

Artists are constantly on the hunt for inspiration and on that hunt for inspiration it is easy to collect – images, fabrics, furniture, statutes, anything. What if your favourite artist was considered a hoarder? This no longer has to be a question, The Barbican has answered this for you with their exhibition ‘Magnificent Objects: The Artist as Collector’, it features collections from artists such Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Hanne Darboven, Hiroshi Sugimito and Jim Shaw.

Magnificent Obsessions Installation Images

The exhibition is displayed over six rooms and has been exceptionally curated by Lydia Yee to give you a visual insight into the mind’s of the artists. Each room has been carefully set up to create a mood and tone with the pieces arranged more like artistic instillations than a hoard of objects. Hanne Darbhoven’s collection displays an iron goat, gigantic flying angel, a cardboard cut out of Charlie Chaplin, a toilet, a wooden ship, taxidermy, 2 lamp’s, a life size wooden horse and around 200 more miscellaneous items.

What’s really interesting in this exhibition is the contrast between the collections of objects vs. the artists who collected them. For instance, Darbhoven’s artistic work is simplistic and minimal, whereas her collection in this exhibition is packed full of absurd and unexpected objects.

Magnificent Obsessions Installation Images

This exhibition gave us an insight into the minds of some great artists. But what is also intriguing is the insight into the way our own mind work. When we look at the exhibited items separately, they could be seen as a piece of junk with no importance, if we were to look at the items in a pile they could be seen as a hoard of junk with no importance. But when the items are arranged within this context, our brains look at them as art. This leaves us to question if it’s the arrangement of objects that makes it art or the individual pieces? You have until the 25th of May to find out.