Samuel F. B. Morse “Gallery of the Louvre” 1831-33, a 19th century view of the Salon Carre of the Musee du Louvre, image courtesy Terra Foundation for American Art collection
“In our day, we collected art to hang on the walls; today, people are traveling with their art via tattoos.” – M

My friend M says a lot of interesting things, but this statement caught my attention. The whole tattoo explosion has prompted a lot of conversation — but I thought his statement about it being a collection of art that is movable, easily movable at that, quite compelling. One tattoo does not a collection make, just like a painting over a sofa does not make a collector of the owner. But once the obsession sets in…both in body art and in art collecting, then, like Morse’s painting there’s no limit to the arrangement of images and the more the better.

I’ve always favored the look of the ‘gallery’ installation; one that utilizes all of the wall space available. The reason is that it begins a dialogue amongst the art and the artists that otherwise would not occur. Drawing comparisons, contrasts, expressions, confrontations…well, I’m sure you get the ‘picture.’

Now, people who cover themselves in tattoos, are they psychotic? Or just passionate collectors? Tattoos still carry a stigma for a certain group of the population (read, an older generation) but less so for those coming behind them. After someone leaves my house, perhaps on their first visit, are they shaking their head in disgust at the floor-to-ceiling exhibition of paintings, prints and objects that adorn my walls–as if I were a complete nut-job? (If they do, they’ve been diplomatic enough not to mention it…)

Those who choose to cover themselves in tattoos may have completely different motivations for their obsessions than an art collector does, but I believe that neither the tattoo collector nor the art collector have that much control over the process, as they’ve given themselves over to it gladly and freely.


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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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