THE PHILANTHROPISTS
artwork in a lobby

A colourful neon installation by Jason Rhoades in the home of German art dealer David Zwirner

Art collector and author Tiqui Atencio is the founder and chair of the Tate Latin America Acquisition Committee and a trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation amongst numerous other philanthropic arts and culture organisations. As part of our ongoing philanthropy series, she discusses her latest book, the importance of collecting art and her efforts to promote Latin American artists

Tiqui Atencio

LUX: How did you come up with your idea for your book For Art’s Sake?
Tiqui Atencio: The idea for my second book, For Art’s Sake was born whilst I was writing my first book, Could Have, Would Have, Should Have. For me, it was a natural progression. After visiting the homes of the collectors that I interviewed, I decided I wanted to write a book with photos about art dealers. I wanted to see how they lived in their homes with the artists they represent and collect. I wanted it to reflect their passions, motivations, pursuits, adventures, and personal choices.

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LUX: ‘Heroic commitment’ or ‘crazy silliness’ – how is collecting art different from buying art?
Tiqui Atencio: Buying art can be different from collecting if the intention of the person buying the work is different from buying to form a collection, or increase one. Motivations and objectives are very varied. Some are committed collectors that go the extra mile to get what they want, others are not as passionate or dedicated. I would never describe it as silliness or craziness; it’s more like a steadfast passion.

art book cover

The cover of For Art’s Sake by Tiqui Atencio, published by Rizzoli New York

LUX: How do you gain the trust to access these private homes with the team?
Tiqui Atencio: Most of the dealers I approached and interviewed were either trusted friends or people I had met through the art world at different occasions over the years, sometimes having bought from them myself.

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LUX: From your interviews, what essential principles guide an architect or designer in showcasing a collection?
Tiqui Atencio: I believe that a good designer or architect will take into consideration the taste of their client in art, their collecting patterns, and preferences in lifestyle and choices in home living.

LUX: Among the homes you have visited, do you have any personal favourites?
Tiqui Atencio: Every home and collection had a certain angle of attraction, and I can’t say I had a favourite one, but being originally Latin American I could have moved in Luisa Strina’s home in São Paulo with only a toothbrush.

artwork hanging in living room

Lucian Freud’s Annie, a painting of the artist’s eldest daughter from 1962, hangs above a sofa upholstered in William Morris “Acanthus” print in Iwan and Manuela Wirth’s home in the Scottish Highlands

LUX: How do you think your own approach to collecting has changed over the years?
Tiqui Atencio: At the beginning, when I was very young, I was buying what I liked without too much information. With time and experience, I buy with more caution and research, but still following my heart and instincts.

LUX:For Art’s Sake integrates with your other roles within art philanthropy, what are you most proud to have achieved with its publication?
Tiqui Atencio: I am very proud to inform the readers of my books about the sense of sharing, giving and philanthropic commitment to the art world that most collectors, through their collecting practices have given to humanity. Their sense of responsibility, their generosity and their role in promoting art and culture.

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LUX: What inspired you to become Chair of the Tate Latin American Acquisition?
Tiqui Atencio: I was part of an effort to increase the holdings of Latin American Art for the Tate. The intention was to promote the art and artists from the region of the world where I was born. So, I came up with the idea of forming a committee who would be willing to support this initiative, and that is how the Latin American Committee for Tate came to life.

contemporary art hanging

Platypus, 2009 by Amy Sillman in the home of British art dealer and collector Ivor Braka

LUX: Have you found that the pandemic has affected art buyers’ attitudes?
Tiqui Atencio: Yes, personally I am buying less. I am longing to go back to the fairs and auctions of the past to see and feel the emotions and excitement of falling for a work of art. I have bought online, but not often and I can’t say it’s the same experience.

LUX: Do you think the pandemic has affected fine artists’ creativity?
Tiqui Atencio: I believe the pandemic has affected us all in some way – positively and/or negatively. With time, it will be interesting to see what comes out of this challenging moment. I am a positive thinker and I do believe we will come out better than we think – same with artists!

LUX: What is your favourite period of art?
Tiqui Atencio: I confess it’s mid-century Latin American Art, but my taste is very eclectic and varied and in my collection, there are many periods and styles.

Find out more: tiquiatencio.com