It starts with a simple enough question: "Do you own art that should be seen in a museum?" It ends with a fairly logical answer: "Yes." Yet, in between, there is a vacuum, unchartered territory, a survey yet to be made.There is, however, a tacit understanding that in this region there is plenty to be enjoyed.
Vastari, which launched in January 2013, is an online service designed to connect collectors to museums and vice-versa, helping facilitate new, exciting and original exhibitions to the benefit of all (including the art-going public).
The name of the organisation is inspired by Giorgio Vasari,the sixteenth century Italian painter, architect, writer and historian, who is particularly renowned for his seminal 1568 book the Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, from Cimabue to Our Times.
It's a very appropriate nod to a more inclusive understanding of art and culture, one that the founders of Vastari argue reflects "an age that appreciates more than what was previously defined as high arts". Any connection with objects from the past, they explain, is valuable, whatever term you may attribute to a painting, sculpture and/or piece of jewellery.
Founded by its current director Bernadine Brocker, who has been involved in the art world for most of her professional life, the service is designed to enable collectors to have an easier, more straightforward dialogue with curators – effectively bypassing the art market – which has the added benefits of being efficient and discreet.
"Currently, collectors have to communicate with curators via the market, and so deal with an annoying grapevine of forwarding letters," Ms Brocker explains.
"Our goal is to help collectors share their works with the public and create interesting new links, without 'burning' the piece to the market and without the unnecessary headaches."
Vastari is very philanthropic in its scope, acting as a sympathetic and informed facilitator, a quiet intermediary inspired and motivated by the importance of making art more accessible. A lot of collectors are not more interested in cultivating a collection for the pure love of it. At times, there is a desire to share and to do so without attracting attention.
It is a remarkable approach to developing exhibitions, while also being a novel way of communicating in the digital age. So much these days is predicated on social media, the ongoing, multi-channel conversation, characterised by lots of chitchat and imagery.
This conversation is a lot simpler. A curator sees something they like and sends a message saying as much, and the collector, anonymous thanks to SSL-encrypted technology, can respond accordingly.
Currently, a lot of interest has come from American, European and Middle East galleries and investors. Counterparts in South America and African nations have expressed interest too, but in Asia, there is very little activity. It will pick up though, as with the sector flourishing in the region, this service will become more relevant.This is still only the beginning.
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