Conversation with Dakis Joannou, one of the most significant contemporary art collectors today and founder of the Deste Art Foundation
BB Who was the first artist whose work you bought?
DJ Jeff Koons was the first artist I started to collect. As for buying, anything from a very early age…
BB How do you choose what you buy? Is it love at first sight, or the concept of the piece or the texture?
DJ Everything has to work and when you look at a work of art, you have to connect with it.
I establish personal relationships with the artists I collect: I befriend them and build a rapport with them, but don’t ask a lot of questions about their work.
We just talk.
BB Do you buy one offs or do you collect works by the same artists?
DJ With some I do, some I don’t. I have several one offs and I can collect others’ work extensively.
It’s important to do this because you give the collection presence, you don’t just collect masterpieces. You create a juxtaposition of various artists and varied artworks.
BB Is hype responsible for inflating the price of contemporary art?
DJ Talent will always out!
BB Have you ever collected fine art?
DJ No, the only thing I did when I started the collection, was to buy some pieces to give reference to the collection and to put young unknown artists into context. Twenty years later, they ARE the context and the supporting pieces are sold.
BB How important is art in general?
DJ I can’t judge this from other people’s point of view, but people in general need art. Everyone has something on their wall, whether Chinese embroidery or photography or anything else. Different people have a different relationship with their art.
BB How do you want to be remembered?
DJ I am not concerned with posterity, but with now. What I do, I do through art – that’s my language and my tool.
Art’s purpose is to enrich people’s minds and take them to another level. Contemporary art is relevant to what is happening now.
N. B. This is a short version of an interview which is published in full in our sister publication,
B Beyond magazine, Spring 2010.