While many art collections and private museums emerge under the names of the uber-wealthy and garner debate surrounding their intentions and role, the contemporary conditions of late capitalism call for an introspective look into how collectors have the clout to responsibly contribute to their ecosystems. With conscientious collecting at the heart of Metis Art, we take a look at a few innovative models that have emerged out of private collections and evolved into social practices. Here are some models that redefine collecting as a more radical, impact-driven practice.

KADIST Art Foundation

Exhibition view of ‘Not Fully Human, Not Human at All’, 2021, KADIST Paris. Image courtesy of Aurélien Mole and KADIST Paris.

KADIST is a non-profit organisation based in Paris and San Francisco, co-founded by the uncle and niece pair Vincent Worms and Sandra Terdjman. KADIST taps into the wisdom gained through their own private collection to formulate their programmes of exhibitions, residencies, research, social discourse, and educational initiatives, in order to foster cross-cultural connections and conversations about contemporary art that address key issues of our time. The collection represents over 800 artists and counting, through a growing network across North America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Asia and Latin America.


Kontakt Collection

Installation view of Milan Adamčiak, ‘Paganiniada’, 1979/2019. Image courtesy of Maria Ziegelboeck and the Kontakt Collection.

Another decentralised collection of works is the Kontakt Collection that supports a variety of artists who operate at the fringes of the art world. This is the art collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation for the Promotion of Central, Eastern and Southeastern European Art. The aim of the independent collection is to reflect on artistic production amid social and political developments within those regions. Featured above is a recent exhibition of performances titled ‘Collective Exhibition for a Single Body – The Private Score – Vienna 2019’ where works were activated from Viennese private collections. By focusing on not just one region but three, Kontakt upholds its purpose of tracing how art shifts alongside changing political geographies for Europe, therefore having a socio-political motivation at its core.


Art for Justice Fund

Agnes Gund in her New York City home. Image courtesy of Emiliano Granado for Artsy.

Art for Justice Fund was founded by visionary art collector, patron and social activist Agnes Gund. Following an inspirational decision by her to sell a Roy Lichtenstein painting which fetched $165 million at auction, the Art for Justice Fund was created with a primary focus to resolve the issue of mass incarceration in the United States of America. Fundmaking and collaborations are part of their ambit alongside many other socially driven strategies that amplify the power of art. Gund is praised for going beyond the usual philanthropic models to address injustice and oppression at the systemic level, and for contributing to society through her art collection as a force for change.


Samdani Art Foundation

Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani in their home, with Michael Armitage’s ‘Glue Sniffers’, 2016, Oil on Lubugo Bark Cloth, 150 x 170 cm. Image courtesy of Mark Tan and Tatler Hong Kong.

The Samdani Art Foundation (SAF) is the brainchild of art collector couple Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani. Based in Dhaka, this foundation has not only helped place Bangladesh on the global art map but also more chiefly supports the works of the nation’s contemporary art and architectural landscapes. SAF’s ongoing initiative ‘Art Around the Table’ sees contributing artists, curators and writers participate in a food donation campaign through a partnership with the JAAGO Foundation which aims to eliminate poverty and illiteracy nationwide. As an empowering extension of their collecting activities, the Samdanis look to producing grants, residencies, education programs and exhibitions while working with public bodies, thus making SAF a worldwide leader in the pursuit of a social mission through art.

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