Art Collector

How to Start Collecting Art with Sibylle Rochat

Sibylle Rochat of Rochat Art Consultancy discusses collecting in the context of culture and legacy.

Why do your clients want to collect art?

To capture and reflect the time they’re living in

To define themselves and their opinions

To believe in something and belong somewhere

To enhance their daily lives and homes

To diversify their assets

To build a legacy


What are the three things you would like a prospective client to know before they come talk to you?

1. We need to have common ground in our taste in art.

2. I need to find my clients interesting and interested, I need to want to talk to them and share ideas.

3. To (please!) understand that art is a volatile investment it pays emotional, intellectual, social, decorative, and sometimes but not always financial dividends.


Why would a collector not be a good fit for you?

I don’t advise dirty or ethically questionable money


What should a beginning collector focus on for the first purchase?

Your first work should start to get you thinking, and hopefully lead you in the direction of a coherent collection. Do you want to build to a collection that has an art historical context or collect art that engages with a certain topic etc. 


Do collectors ever make mistakes? What happens then?

You clean the collection


Should the collector just get it over with or hold out for the right first object?

It depends on where you are in the journey, but you have to buy what you love.


When does someone become a collector? As soon as they decide to buy art? Once they’ve bought the first work? Only after they have three works?

Collector is a term that should reflect your commitment to art, until then you are an art buyer.


Then what do you do to show your commitment to art?

I co-founded Concrete Projects in 2015, an initiative to enable the production of challenging exhibitions that would not be possible without this support.

I see the art world as an ecosystem that needs to be perpetually balanced between commercial pressures and a need to support the expression of new ideas.

Here are the projects we have supported:


What do you collect?

Husbands… (I am mostly joking)

I collect with my daughters in mind, wanting to pass on something that will have a meaning for them.

For my eldest daughter, Camilla, I collect art by strong female artists to show her the way to independence and empowerment, something that has been central to my life.

Carol Rama, Isabelle Cornaro, Camille Henrot, Latifa Echakhch.


Isabelle Cornaro at Bern Kunsthalle Isabelle Cornaro at Bern Kunsthalle

For my youngest, Theodora, I collect works by artists of African or mixed race heritage. Theodora is Swiss and Nigerian. Through art I hope she will find answers to questions about her identity that I am unable to answer for her.

Alvaro Barrington, Kapwani Kiwanga, Lewis Hammond, Nigatu Tsehay.


Theodora and Sibylle looking at Alvaro Barrington, 1963-857, 2020Theodora and Sibylle looking at Alvaro Barrington, 1963-857, 2020

How did you get started collecting?

My Swiss grand-mother was a collector, humble and local, but she had exquisite taste. She definitely left her mark on me.


First artwork?

A Jim Shaw dream drawing in 2004 - I still love the artist today!


When is a collection finished?

Never, you outgrow nearly everything.

As you grow the collection will too.


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