The Collector Behind Copenhagen Contemporary
Copenhagen-based collector Peter Ibsen has a thing for abstract contemporary pieces, particularly monochrome and minimalist works. His collecting habits changed when he encountered a work by German artist Gregor Hildebrandt made out of cassette tapes (see below). It irked him so much that he bought it.
Peter has collected contemporary art for more than 20 years and runs Copenhagen Contemporary, a blog that supports emerging international artists. His Instagram account is on Christie's list of Top 100 Art World Instagram Accounts. We catch up with Peter to find out more about his sophisticated Scandinavian taste and what he looks for in up and coming talent. We also get a glimpse into his impressive collection.
What makes the Danish contemporary art scene unique?
To be honest it’s not unique. In this globalised world, I think it’s difficult to pin down why a country like Denmark has an unique contemporary art scene. To me it’s more about a specific style of an artist or an art piece that I look for. That’s also one of the reasons why you see so many Danish art collectors looking abroad when it come to new purchases.
What is it about monochrome and minimalist works that appeals to you?
To me it is all about what you don’t see on the canvas. When you look at an abstract monochrome art piece you only see 20%. It forces you to look deeper at the texture, materiality and process. The cleanliness of the surface can seem so simple and uncomplicated but often there can be months of preparation and execution. That’s what really fascinates me.
Has your taste as a collector evolved over time?
In the beginning I collected figurative art. But I got so easily bored until the day I stumbled over a black art piece of Gregor Hildebrandt made out of cassette tapes on canvas. It irritated me. I thought to myself “how can this be art?”. There was no motif, no subject, no theme. It was annoying. But I bought it because something about it intrigued me. Since then I have not looked back and all figurative pieces are out of my collection.
What qualities do you look for in your hunt for new pieces?
There always needs to be an element that I don’t understand. It also has to be visually minimalistic, abstract and monochrome - lots of process that one can’t figure out by looking at the works. I am also very much drawn to materiality, so works that aren’t painted in a traditional sense appeal to me. I find that I’m drawn to sculptures, objects and very tactile works.
Which artists do you have your eye on at the moment?
You've curated CODE Art Fair in Copenhagen. What opportunities do fairs offer artists and collectors and what does the future of art fairs look like in your opinion?
The opportunities art fairs offer collectors are: an overview of well selected galleries (if it’s well curated) representing some of the most interesting contemporary art; to meet gallerists; and to expand your network.
Meanwhile it gives artists an opportunity to be promoted to an international band of collectors and galleries. In the future, I hope to see art fairs become smaller, better curated and more targeted when it comes to style. That way you know exactly what to expect beforehand.